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Eight swimmers stroke to Olympic Trials
Eight swimmers stroke to Olympic Trials
By TONY LANGE
Just as Kenyans are known to be the best marathoners in the world, Americans are known to be the best swimmers in the world.
At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, United States swimmers won more gold, 12, silver, nine, and bronze, 10, medals than any other country.
So when eight local swimmers from Hawken School, University School and Walsh Jesuit High School compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials June 25 through July 2 in Omaha, Neb., they'll be competing with the best of the best.
The trials are every bit as thrilling, pressure-filled and suspenseful as the Olympics itself, said Hawken School head coach Jerry Holtrey, who is preparing five swimmers on his USA Lake Erie Silver Dolphins team for the big meet.
"Just the thrill of qualifying for the Olympic Trials is a big honor for these swimmers, and they'll be able to see a meet that's probably every bit as good as the Olympics themselves, because the competition is so strong in the United States," he said.
During the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials for Beijing, nine world records were broken by American swimmers.
While the United States can only enter its top two swimmers in each event, Americans sometimes have the top three swimmers in the world in an event.
In 2008, Ryan Lochte placed third in the 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. trials and had the third-fastest time in the world at that point. While two of his teammates, Aaron Peirsol and Matt Grevers, took gold and silver in Beijing, Lochte was not able to compete in that event.
For the 2012 trials, Holtrey is training Sarah Koucheki and Marissa Cominelli, who will be seniors at Hawken next fall, 2012 Hawken graduate Morgan Cohara, 2012 University School graduate Kevin Stang and 2011 University School graduate Mike Gaudiani, who swam at Harvard University this past season.
Former LESD swimmer and 2011 University School graduate Andrew Malone also will be competing in the trials but opted to stay and train at the University of Southern California, where he just finished his freshman year and now represents the Trojan Swim Club.
Also a 2011 University School graduate, Korey Schneider, who just finished his freshman year with the Hawkeyes at the University of Iowa, will be representing University Swim Club at the Olympic Trials. He will be travelling to Omaha with University Swim Club coach Charlie Lownes, who coaches out of Gilmour Academy.
There's a little bit of pressure when it comes to training a swimmer for such a high-level competition, because a coach does not want to mess his or her swimmer up, Lownes said.
"That's just the internal self doubt that most coaches have and won't say out loud," he said. "But the fact is coaches can only school a kid up. You don't create talent. Korey is a very, very strong and talented kid. God did that."
The success of Stang, Gaudiani, Malone and Schneider also should be credited to University School's head swim coach, Brian Perry, who trains them during the high school season, Lownes said.
Danielle Margheret, a Solon resident who will be a senior at Walsh in the fall, also will be competing at the Olympic Trials. She will represent the Cleveland Lancers Swim Club, coached by Wally Lutkus.
All swimmers have big meets in some capacity, Lutkus said.
"What I try to do is build a background in her, try to build an endurance base, try to make sure that we work on simple things like head alignment and our dives and off-the-wall technique and still try to keep her happy," he said about training Margheret for her big meet. "Danielle just turned 17. You don't have too many chances to go to trials, so taking advantage of them and going to more than one, I think that's a great thing. She's done a great job. Her attitude's great. We just have to see what we can do right, I hope."
Depending on how many swimmers make cuts, there could be fewer than 50 or as many as 100 in any given event at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Coming up June 15 through 17, five other LESD swimmers still have one last chance to make their trial cuts during the USA Busbey Meet at Cleveland State University.
U.S. Olympic Trial cuts must come in an Olympic-size pool, which is 50 meters long. Swimmers have limited opportunities to swim in the long-course pools, because even natatoriums like Busbey, where LESD trains in the mornings during the summertime, are set up for short-course 25 yards during the majority of the year.
Many aquatic facilities, like the University of Akron's Ocasek Natatorium, where Margheret trains, and Mentor's Garfield Park, where University Swim Club trains in the summer, just made their short-course to long-course pool transformations.
LESD swimmers on the brink of qualifying for the trials during this week's Busbey Meet are upcoming Hawken seniors Carrie Bencic and Kaitlyn Cerne, upcoming Chagrin Falls High School senior Austin Quinn, 2012 University School graduate Nicholas Crane and 2009 University School graduate Ian Stewart-Bates.
Quinn, for example is 0.5 second off the cut in the 1,500-meter freestyle and 0.9 second off the cut in the 200 backstroke.
"Those that are close have been training extremely hard, but now we've got to start letting up a little bit so that they start feeling good for the Busbey Meet, because, if they're not feeling good both physically and mentally, the chances are not good at qualifying," Holtrey said two weeks ago. "So we have to use this meet as a real big taper meet, and they're going to do the very best they can in terms of trying to qualify."
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