In 2008, at age 13, Zhesi Li swam in the Olympics in Beijing, about 400 miles from her home in Shenyang, China.

Four years later she was out of the sport, having been suspended for two years by swimming’s governing body for testing positive for a banned substance.

So when Li moved to central Ohio in 2013, it was not with swimming in mind. She came to learn English at an intensive program at Ohio Dominican.

“I didn’t want to swim at all. I just wanted to study abroad and get that experience,” said Li, who goes by Liz in the States. “Then my friend brought me to Ohio State, said I had to see the pool. I was like, ‘Oh, man, I want to be here.’ That made me want to restart my swimming.”

This weekend, Li will finish her swimming career at that same facility, OSU’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The Ohio State senior will compete in seven events at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships.

Now 22, Li graduated with a degree in sports industry last year and is now pursuing her master’s in sports coaching with an eye on helping OSU coach Bill Dorenkott and his staff once her swimming days end.

“She wants to coach. She will always have a place here,” Dorenkott said. “She is just an amazing human being. She is so much more than just a talented swimmer. She’s very kind, humble, has a great work ethic and loves the team aspect of the sport. She has been a blessing to all of us.”

Li is entered in three sprint races and four relays. She won the conference championship in the 50-meter freestyle, the same event she represented her country in at the 2008 Beijing Games. As the youngest member of the Chinese swim team, she placed 13th at those Olympics.

“I was super-excited seeing the huge crowds,” said Li, a nine-time Big Ten champion and six-time All-America selection.

Dorenkott remembers hearing about Li’s visit to his facility. He was in California at the U.S. nationals and took a call saying Li and a friend stopped by to inquire about her joining the team. Dorenkott quickly got back to her.

“She told me a little bit of her story,” Dorenkott said. “She has had a heck of a journey. We’re grateful she landed here.”

Ohio State will have nine swimmers and two divers competing individually at the national meet, which opened Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

“This is probably the best team Ohio State has had in 30 years,” said Dorenkott, whose Buckeyes are No. 13 nationally. “I like the group we have. It has been a joy to work with them.”

Li said she will enjoy this last run at a championship and added that swimming in front of fans in Columbus reminds her of her trip around the pool deck in Beijing 10 years ago, when she was wildly cheered as her name was announced.

“I loved hearing all the cheers. I was like ‘This is all for me,’ ” Li said. “That’s why I love racing at home in front of our super-awesome fans. This is a great place to end it.”

Last year, Li finished third in the 50 free behind Simone Manuel of Stanford and Olivia Smoliga of Georgia. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Manuel is ranked first nationally going into this meet, with Li right behind.

“I cannot wait to have a fast swim,” Li said. “I want to treasure each moment. I know I’m going to retire after this, so I want to do the best I can and enjoy the moment, enjoy the competition. I don’t want to make things complicated.

“I just want to race and I want to be fast.”