June 22, 2012
Seventeen current or former Tennessee swimmers will compete for positions on Team USA beginning Monday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
The Trials run Monday through July 2 at the CenturyLink Center, which holds more than 13,000 spectators. The top two finishers in each event automatically qualify for the Olympics.
For news and notes heading into next week:
THE LADY VOL COMPETITORS
The Lady Vols are scheduled to have 13 swimmers in the field, headlined by 2008 Olympic silver medalist Christine Magnuson and 2012 first-team All-SEC performers Jenny Connolly, Kelsey Floyd, Lindsay Gendron, Molly Hannis and Caroline Simmons.
Magnuson, who won the silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2008 Olympics, now trains in Arizona and plans to compete in 100 butterfly, the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. She has the second-fastest seed time in the 100 butterfly (57.32 seconds) and is also the event record-holder in the Olympic Trials, swimming in 57.50 to qualify for the 2008 team.
Connolly won two individual titles in her final SEC Championship in February and made headlines last summer by winning the gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke in a meet record-setting performance at the World University Games. She also won silver in the 100 backstroke at the meet.
Connolly is slated to swim in the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. She has the sixth-fastest seed time in the 100 backstroke (1:00.21), a race that promises to be a closely contested one with four swimmers clocking times under a minute. The also has the 12th-fastest seed time in the 100 butterfly (59.02).
Floyd, a rising senior, won the SEC title in the 200-yard butterfly and also took bronze in the 100 butterfly last season as a junior. At the NCAA Championships, she took third place in both those events. She is competing in the 100 butterfly, the 200 butterfly and the 200 freestyle.
Gendron is entered in the most events of the Lady Vols, swimming the gamut of freestyle events: the 100, 200, 400 and 800 races. She placed sixth at NCAAs in the 200 freestyle, and in a show of versatility, also finished 16th in the mile.
THE VOLS IN THE FIELD
Brad Craig, the back-to-back SEC champion for Tennessee in the 100-yard breaststroke in 2010 and 2011, is among the four Vols competing at the trials. He is among the veteran Tennessee swimmers departing for the trials, having competed at the 2008 event. Craig is set to swim the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Rising junior Samuel Rairden is Tennessee's top returning swimmer, having earned a silver medal in the 100 backstroke at the 2012 SEC Championships. Rairden has one of the busiest schedules of the Tennessee swimmers, set to go in the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.
TENNESSEE IN THE OLYMPICS
The Vols have boasted 19 Olympians in the past, including five who have medaled at the Games. Four Vols swam at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing: Octavio Alesi (Venezuela), Andrew Bree (Ireland), Jonas Persson (Sweden) and Jevon Tarantino (USA).
The Lady Vols have had seven Olympians over the years, including two at the 2008 Games: Magnuson (USA) and Fabiola Molina (Brazil).
Diving coach Dave Parrington has been to the Olympics as both a diver and a coach for Zimbabwe.
Tori Lamp and Michael Wright still have one day to go in the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials in Federal Way Washington.
Lamp is in fifth place heading into the final round of the women's platform. The rising redshirt junior from Knoxville has a score of 641.15, putting her 62.60 points behind second place. Like the swimming trials, the top two in diving make the Olympic team.
Wright is in 12th place in the finals of men's 3-meter springboard.
The men's 3-meter finals will be held Sunday at noon Pacific (3 p.m. Eastern) with the women's platform to follow. The competition will be televised on NBC.