With Olympic Trials fast approaching, we’re taking a look at each of the eight days of competition, which will begin June 25 and conclude July 2. We break down who we see as the favorites entering the meet, preview each event, make our picks for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, and give you a list of current and former local area competitors. Read our Day One, Day Two, Day Three and Day Four Previews here.
2008 Olympians will attempt to fend off the next cycle of American swim stars on the fifth night of competition at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha. Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau will face a group of collegiate upstarts in the 200 breaststroke, and Kathleen Hersey and Elaine Breeden seek their shot at redemption in the 200 butterfly after falling flat in Beijing. Capping off the night will be men’s 100 freestyle, where long-shots hope to finish fast enough to earn a coveted spot on the 4×100 freestyle relay in London.
Men’s 200 breaststroke
The 200-meter breaststroke promises to be a battle between former world record holder Brendan Hansen – who retired for two and a half years after the Beijing Olympics — and current American record holder Eric Shanteau. Hansen will likely have an easier time qualifying in the 100 breast, so this event will be the true test of his recent comeback, having only been in serious training since January 2011. During Hansen’s absence, Shanteau took center stage, posting seven of the top 10 times by an American in the last three years.
Behind Shanteau and Hansen are several promising young swimmers, including 2010 NCAA Champion Clark Burckle and 2011 FINA World Championships representative Elliott Keefer.
2008 Olympic Champion: Kosuke Kitajima (Japan) 2:07.64.
World record: Christian Sprenger (Australia) 2:07.31, set in 2009.
American record: Eric Shanteau (Longhorn Aquatic) 2:07.42, set in 2009.
1. Eric Shanteau — American record holder (2:09.28)
2. Brendan Hansen — Former world record holder (2:09.64)
3. Clark Burckle — 2010 NCAA champion (2:09.72)
4. Sean Mahoney — owns second-fastest time ever in this event by an American swimmer (2:11.47)
5. Elliott Keefer — 18th, FINA World Championships (2:12.09)
6. Scott Weltz — relative unknown out of UC-Davis (2:12.37)
7. Adam Klein — 2010 NCAA championships bronze medalist (2:12.71)
8. Eric Friedland — 2011 NCAA champion (2:12.91)
Local competitors: Former RMSC swimmer and 2011 200-yard breaststroke NCAA champion Eric Friedland (Texas/Longhorn Aquatics) looks to make waves on the national stage in his signature event. In addition, Chuck Katis (Curl-Burke/Harvard) is looking to shed seconds in this event on the heels of an impressive freshman NCAA season.
Picks for London: Shanteau, Hansen. Shanteau and Hansen should be ahead at the 100-meter mark. If Hansen holds on, he’ll have a busy schedule in London.
Women’s 200 butterfly
In 2008, Elaine Breeden and Kathleen Hersey finished seventh and eight in the Olympic final of the 200 butterfly — not the dominating performance expected from the United States in a swimming event. Things did not get better in 2011 at the world championships, when no U.S. swimmer advanced out of the semifinals. Still the favorites, Breeden and Hersey are hoping to redeem themselves in 2012, but have not made the strides over the last four years that you might have expected, leaving the door open for swimmers looking for their first Olympic appearance.
Of those, Teresa Crippen who joined Hersey at worlds this past summer, but did not advance out of the heats, has the experience to sneak into the top two. She has been training hard under Florida Coach Gregg Troy – the 2012 U.S. Olympic coach — and those grueling practices could pay off in Omaha.
The biggest surprise in this event has been Cammile Adams, whose time — posted mid-NCAA season — from the Austin Grand Prix in January jumped her to the top of the Trials psych sheet, beating out Hersey and Crippen’s world championships swims. Adams is coming off a successful second season at Texas A&M and has looked sharp in all of her Olympic trials tune-up meets over the past two months.
Behind the top four sits a decorated group that includes several Olympians and Nationals medalists, any of which could challenge the favorites for a spot on the U.S. team.
2008 Olympic champion: Liu Zige (China) 2:04.18.
World record: Liu Zige (China) 2:01.81, set in 2009.
American record: Mary (DeScenza) Mohler (FAST) 2:04.14, set in 2009.
1. Cammile Adams — 2012 NCAA silver medalist in 200-yard fly (2:06.76)
2. Kathleen Hersey — American record holder (short-course meters) (2:06.89)
3. Teresa Crippen — 2011 U.S. Nationals bronze medalist (2:06.93)
4. Elaine Breeden — 2011 U.S. Nationals bronze medalist in 100 fly (2:08.14)
5. Lyndsay De Paul — 2011 NCAA bronze medalist in 400-yard IM (2:08.44)
6. Kimberly Vandenberg — 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in 4×200 free relay (2:08.53)
7. Jasmine Tosky — 2011 Winter Nationals silver medalist (2:09.28)
8. Dana Vollmer — 2011 World Champion in 100 fly (2:09.86)
Local competitors: This is Janet Hu‘s strongest event and her best shot at reaching the semifinals despite entering the meet seeded 37th. This would not be the first time the 16-year-old Curl-Burke swimmer has reached the semifinals in a national competition, but it would be the strongest all-around field she has faced to date.
Seeded ahead of her in 20th place is her former club and high school teammate, Kaitlin Pawlowicz. Her seed time was achieved at Nationals in 2010 when she was still in high school, but since then she has been well off that mark — two weeks ago she was 2:15.39. But, with a year of collegiate training under her belt, she could make a splash in this event if she hits her taper.
Also looking to drop time are former RMSC swimmers Danielle Schulkin (Harvard) and Elizabeth Pepper (Florida State) seeded 60th and 75th, respectively. Representing U-Md. will be Addi Koelle (Conn.) seeded 103rd.
Picks for London: Hersey, Adams. Hersey made the final in Beijing, four years ago — that experience will carry her to her second straight Olympics. Behind her, Adams’s has consistently been one of the fastest in the pool in 2012. If she can keep swimming at the high level she has carried over from her NCAA season, she could find herself on her first Olympic team.
Men’s 100 freestyle
Although Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have both considered adding this event to their Olympic schedules, they will most likely swim only the preliminary heats in order to earn a spot on the 4×100 freestyle relay — top six fastest swimmers are selected. That leaves the second individual event bid wide open.
One contender is 36-year-old Jason Lezak, who still owns the fastest relay split in history from his anchor-leg heroics in Beijing. Lezak’s Olympic relay teammate, Garrett Weber-Gale, swam well at the FINA World Championships last summer and also hopes to punch his ticket to London with this event. Meanwhile, 200 freestyle specialist Ricky Berens has spent the last year developing his breakout speed and that could translate into an individual Olympic bid in the 100.
2008 Olympic champion: Alain Bernard (France) 47.21.
World record: Cesar Cielo (Brazil) 46.91, set in 2009.
American record: Jason Lezak (Rose Bowl Aquatics) 47.58, set in 2008.
1. Nathan Adrian — 2008 Olympic gold medalist, 4×100 freestyle relay (prelims) (48.05)
2. Jason Lezak — 2008 Olympic gold medalist, 4×100 freestyle relay (48.47)
3. Garrett Weber-Gale — 2008 Olympic gold medalist, 4×100 freestyle relay (48.49)
4. Ricky Berens — 2008 Olympic gold medalist, 4×200 freestyle relay (48.94)
5. Scot Robison — ACC record-holder (48.98)
6. Jimmy Feigen — 2011 World University Games gold medalist (48.99)
7. Dave Walters — American record-holder (49.01)
8. Davis Tarwater–third, 2011 U.S. National championships (49.06)
Local competitors: This will be the first career Olympic trials swim for Curl-Burke’s 29-year-old sprinter Joe Pascale, who will be Potomac Valley’s highest seed at 65th. Teammate Zach Hayden, who competed at the British Olympic trials earlier this year, will also be in the race. Former U-Md. swimmer and recent Penn State signee John Hauser is Potomac Valley’s second-fastest qualifier. Although this is far from his best event, Michael Flach (South Carolina/FISH) will also swim the 100 freestyle, as he will all five events he is qualified for.
Picks for London: Adrian, Weber-Gale. Adrian should easily make it into the top two, but less than one-tenth of a second will decide the second spot.
Tags: 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Adam Klein, Brendan Hansen, Cammile Adams, Chuck Katis, Clark Burckle, Curl-Burke, Dana Vollmer, Danielle Schulkin, Dave Walters, Davis Tarwater, Elaine Breeden, Elizabeth Pepper, Elliott Keefer, Eric Friedland, Eric Shanteau, Garrett Weber-Gale, Janet Hu, Jasmine Tosky, Jason Lezak, Jimmy Feigen, Joe Pascale, John Hauser, Kaitlin Pawlowicz, Kathleen Hersey, Kimberly Vandenberg, Lyndsay De Paul, Michael Flach, Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian, Ricky Berens, RMSC, Ryan Lochte, Scot Robinson, Scott Weltz, Sean Mahoney, Teresa Crippen, Zach Hayden