Amanda Kendall, Jack Conger advance to semis; locals move up in rankings

Amanda Kendall, Jack Conger advance to semis; locals move up in rankings

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Tyler Clary, left, and Jack Conger react after swimming in the men's 200-meter backstroke preliminaries at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. (Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)

It was another great morning session for local swimmers at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Two local swimmers advanced out of the preliminary heats to earn themselves a second swim tonight in the semifinal events in Omaha.

Fairfax's Amanda Kendall (Mason Makos) slipped into the final of the women's 100-meter freestyle in 16th position. Kendall won gold last summer at the 2011 Pan American Games in the 100 freestyle, as well as anchored the winning 4×100 freestyle relay for the Americans. Tonight, she hopes to finish top eight, landing a spot in tomorrow night's final and giving herself a shot at making the U.S. Olympic team on the freestyle relay. She would join Sterling native Matt McLean as the second Northern Virginia representative in London on the U.S. national swim team.

Also advancing, RMSC's Jack Conger finished 13th in the men's 200 backstroke to earn himself a lane in tonight's semifinals. He needs to be top eight tonight in order to advance to Saturday night's final where, if he makes it, he will test himself against Olympic champion Ryan Lochte.

Conger posing as the 2012 All-Met Swimmer of the Year. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The two-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year doesn't shy from the big stage. Last August, Conger posted three top six finishes as a member of the U.S. Junior National Team that competed at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru. A year later, Conger is ready to shed the “junior” tag and show himself ready to compete with the

world's elite.

“Everyone is going to be looking at Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, but hopefully by the end of the meet people will realize I'm one of the rising stars in the sport going into the next four years,” said Conger during an interview prior to Olympic Trials.

Making an Olympic Trials final was the goal for the rising Good Counsel senior's long before his flight touched down in Omaha, something he achieved earlier this week when he finished eighth in the final of the men's 100 backstroke. After that performance, the expectations went up for the young star as his name became familiar to the commentators and spectators alike.

“[My coaches] always tell me not to let my nerves get the best of me and to have a short-term memory,” said Conger. “I can't be thinking about how I did in my 100 back during my 200 back. I have to remain focused.”

The other rising local star turning heads is Curl-Burke's Andrew Seliskar, who at just 15 is one of the youngest male competitors at this year's Trials. In this morning's men's 200 individual medley heats, Seliskar jumped 2.52 seconds off his best to move up 60 spots to finish in 18th position, missing tonight's semifinal by .13 seconds.

Conger's RMSC teammates Garrett Powell and Sarah Haase also made waves in the morning heats. Powell dropped 2.02 seconds in the men's 200 backstroke, moving up from 69th to 18th place, barely missing out on joining Conger in the semifinal tonight. Sarah Haase dropped an incredible 2.36 seconds in the women's 200 breaststroke to move from 100th to 31st overall.

Seliskar's, Powell's, and Haase's drops are particularly impressive considering how few swimmers are swimming beyond their seed times at Trials this week, according to

Tonight's finals and semifinals will begin at 8 p.m. on NBC. Complete results available at Omega Timing.