Information provided by and written by Samuel Nadell.
Three current and four former swimmers from have qualified for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials that will take place from June 25 to July 2 in Omaha, Neb.
The seven swimmers are Sam Metz (Class of 2010), CJ Smith (’11), Max Grodecki (’12), Reed Malone (’13), Jack Mangan (’13), Samantha James (’12) and Riley Hayward (’13).
“I was pretty excited because it’s such a privilege. It’s something that a lot of swimmers work towards in their swimming careers and so it's a pretty big accomplishment. But, it’s also a privilege to get this opportunity,” said Smith, who swims at the University of Minnesota and will be competing in the 400 and 1500 meter freestyle events.
At the conclusion of the Olympic Trials, 26 men and 26 women will be awarded the highest athletic honor – to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
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Fastest Meet in America
“The Olympic Trials is a special meet. It's the fastest meet on American soil,” Metz said. “It's a lot different than your typical U.S. Nationals because everyone goes. None of the big names are missing. Everyone is there.”
Metz, who currently swims at the University of California, was on the 800 yard freestyle relay team that placed second at the 2012 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship meet. California has won back-to-back National Championships.
At the Olympic Trials, Metz will be competing in the 200 and 400 meter freestyles, 200 meter breaststroke and 200 meter IM.
“I think it says something about the program overall. I think it says something about the New Trier Swim Club, the girls program, the boys program and how those work together and are able to produce, not only Olympic qualifiers, but really are able to work with and coach kids of all abilities to the best they can be. Certainly Olympic qualifiers,” New Trier Boys Swimming and Diving head coach Mark Onstott said.
New Trier, a Swimming Community
On the women’s side, James, who signed her letter of intent to swim at the University of Virginia, will be competing in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke events.
“I really would like to see myself get best times in both events,” James said. “Just do the little things right and see how far I can push myself.”
Hayward, at age 17 just finished her junior year at New Trier and will be representing the New Trier Swim Club in the women’s 100 meter breaststroke.
“I really couldn't believe it. I didn’t think I was looking at the right lane until I heard all my teammates because they were cheering on the side. They were all going crazy. It took me a second to process it all and soak it all in,” Hayward said about her reaction to qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
“I think it speaks highly of the level of swimming in our community. It’s not the first time that we’ve sent student-athletes to Olympic Trials and it certainly won't be the last,” New Trier Girls Swimming and Diving head coach Mac Guy said. “I’m really proud of them."
IHSA State Champs
All seven qualifiers won Illinois High School Association state championships for New Trier.
“All of us our pretty close. All the alumni from the New Trier swimming organization are extremely close. We all talk to each other; whether we are going to the Olympic Trials or not,” Smith said. “Everyone is pretty supportive of what the other person is doing, so it’s very exciting for everyone.”
Metz talked about New Trier’s swimming philosophy and how it has created a model of excellence.
“It’s kind of a created culture of success where you go and work hard, because that’s what everyone’s doing and then you swim fast. That’s just kind of how it works. I think it's a reflection of the hard work of the coaches and the swimmers. Not only the swimmers who are going, but the swimmers who came before us, whether they were seniors when I was a freshman or ahead of some of these guys who are still in high school. I think it’s just a total team thing, much more than the seven people. It's a really great team culture,” Metz said.
Grodecki, Malone and Mangan were a part of the 400 meter freestyle relay team that set a national high school record this past year. Grodecki will be swimming at the University of Wisconsin in the fall and is competing in the men’s 50 and 100 meter freestyle and the 100 meter backstroke events. Malone will be competing in the 100, 200, 400 and 1500 meter freestyles and 200 meter butterfly and Mangan will be competing in the 100 meter backstroke.
“My main goal right now is to take in the whole experience. It’s my first time ever going, so I just want to have fun,” Smith said. “But on the swimming side, I also want to swim a couple personal bests and hopefully crack the top 16 in the 1500 free. Compete at a higher level and a level that I believe I can compete at.”