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Local swimmers conclude stellar week

By Bryan Flaherty

Kate Ziegler (R) and Katie Ledecky celebrate after they competed in the championship final of the women's 800-meter freestyle during Day 7 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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The D.C.-area swimming community concluded a stellar week at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. after Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky and Great Falls’ Kate Ziegler finished 1-2 in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, joining Matt McLean, a Sterling native, on this year’s U.S. Olympic team.

Ledecky, McLean and Ziegler headlined the group of over 40 current and former local swimmers who competed in the week long meet, the majority of which represented the local club teams that developed their talent from ebullient age group swimmers to national elite. Those numbers include 12 swimmers who competed this last winter for their high school teams and one 13-year-old, rising high school freshman.

(L-R) Katie Ledecky and Kate Ziegler on the medal stand together. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Area swimmers made nine finals appearances and 14 semifinal berths in 10 events. Remarkable considering the Potomac Valley — the USA Swimming’ local swimming community that comprises the D.C. metropolitan area — is, geographically, the smallest local swimming community in the country.

However, despite encompassing little more than a city, the Potomac Valley ranks as the fifth largest LSC in the U.S., topping 10,000 swimmers in 2011 after adding over one thousand swimmers since the last Olympic Trials. The only regions ahead of the Potomac Valley are the states Indiana and Illinois and the Pacific and Southern California LSC’s, home of powerhouse collegiate programs Stanford and Southern Cal.

Without any major collegiate programs or professional swim teams in the area, club teams grow purely off of the results at elite level meets like Olympic Trials — successes that include placing a local swimmer on every U.S. Olympic team since 1988, save one.

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