WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
May 26, 2012
With 29 days left until the opening day of the U.S. Olympic Trials, construction on the portable swimming pools got under way this past week at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
About fifty workers are putting in 18-hour days for the next 10 days to assemble the competition and warm-up pools manufactured by Myrtha Pools.
Myrtha manufactured and installed the seven pools that will be used in London. This is the third U.S. trials for Myrtha.
The stainless-steel pools, priced at $2 million each, were designed in Italy and then shipped to Omaha. The pool, held together by 12,500 nuts and bolts, will be filled with 1.7 million gallons of water by June 4th.
The U.S. Trials field will feature 1,700 qualifiers, up from 1,200 in 2008 including Dara Torres of Coral Springs Swim Club, Jessie Alcaide and Tiffany Oliver of SOFLO and former Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer Kevin Bandy of University of Louisville.
A new addition to the pool will be the use of Track Start starting blocks. The platform will allow swimmers to start with the back leg at a 90-degree angle. Every detail will try and mirror the conditions in London including 81-degree warm-up pool and 80-degree competition pool.
Meet officials will host a dress rehearsal at the June 8-10 Mutual of Omaha Swim Invitational.
The Trials are set for June 25 to July 2. The top two swimmers in each individual event will make the Olympic team.
Speedo Grand Challenge
Forty-year-old wife and mom Janet Evans was fourth in the 400-meter freestyle on the meet’s opening night at Irvine Novaquatics. Evans was third for most of the race and finished in 4:19.29, slower than her morning prelim time.
“It’s weird how it’s only for four,” Evans told reporters. “It would have been nice to have been in there but it was good. I am tired and happy and looking forward to the 800.” The 800 is expected to be her best chance to make the finals at the Trials
In other races, Rebecca Soni topped Jessica Hardy in the 100-meter breaststroke and Hardy came back to win the 50-meter freestyle. Soni was first in 1:06.57 and Hardy finished in 1:06.81. Hardy won the sprint race in 25.11 in one of her final tuneup meets before the Trials.
Eric Shanteau won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:01.16.
Prize money was also awarded to winners. “I think all meets should have prize money, it’s cool,” said Soni, who won $400 for her win.
European Swimming Championships
At the Debrecen 2012 European Swimming Championships, Jonathan Koplev became the first swimmer from Israel to win a gold medal at the European Championships. He won the 50-meter backstroke in a best time of 24.73 seconds and even got a congratulatory phonecall from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Mazel Tov,” he told the swimmer. “Your achievement is incredible. Keep your head above water and continue breaking records.”
In other notable races:
Serbia’s Milorad Cavic is fully recovered from back surgery and looks ready to give Michael Phelps another go at the Olympics. Cavic knocked off Hungary’s hot swimmer Laszlo Cseh in the 100-meter butterfly in a meet record 51.45. Cseh had already won two gold medals before the butterfly event. Cavic has been training with Club Wolverine, Phelps’ old training site. Cavic had surgery to repair a herniated disk in July 2010, and was unable to qualify for any finals at last year’s world championships in Shanghai. “I’m half-tapered coming in here and that gives me a lot of hope,” Cavic said. “I had my eye on the competition record.”
Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki won the 200-meter backstroke in a meet and national record of 1:55.28.
Italy’s Olympic champion and world record holder Federica Pellegrini won the 200-meter freestyle for her second gold to remain unbeaten in this event since 2008 and after winning the 200-meter individual medley in 1:56.76.
University of Florida’s Sarah Bateman earned a spot on the Iceland Olympic team after swimming the FINA “A” time in a 50-meter freestyle three-swimmer swim-off in 25.24, also a national and school record.
Norway’s two gold medals were dedicated to Alex Dale Oen, the world champion who died suddenly last month during a training camp in Arizona. When Sara Nordenstam won the 200-meter breaststroke she flexed her muscles and pointed to the Norway flag on her cap like Oen did when he won the 100-meter breaststroke at last year’s worlds. After Ingvild Snildal won the 100-meter butterfly she pointed to Oen’s initials on her cap.
Italy’s Filippo Magnini knocked off Olympic champion Alain Bernard in the 100-meter freestyle for his first medal in four years.
Canadian Scott Dickens broke the meet record in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Mel Zajac Jr. International Canada Cup in Vancouver. Dickens, named to the Olympic team in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, won in 1:01.57, bettering his own meet record in 1:01.88. Also at the meet, three-time Olympic champion Leisel Jones of Australia won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:07.84.
Open water swimming
A field of 2,326 swimmers will compete in the open water swim in the Adriatic Sea in Italy at the June 3-17 FINA World Masters Championships. Because of the large amount of entries, the 3K open water swim field will be divided into age groups and held over two days (June 16-17) based on safety issues according to FINA.
Swimmer Erika Braun, 40, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.32. Braun trains with the Marlins of Raleigh at the Pullen Aquatic Center. Braun, director of human resources for Golden Corral and former Georgia Bulldog, joins Torres and Evans as the only other women 40 and older to qualify. Torres is 45…
Speaking of Torres, the Coral Springs swimmer from Parkland made quite a splash on CNN’s Piers Morgan Show this past week. Morgan asked to see Torres’ famous six-pack washboard abs and she obliged lifting her sweatshirt. “Oh my God, they weren’t kidding were they? Morgan said. “You actually have no stomach.”
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong won his first Half Ironman title at the recent Ironman 70.3 Florida in Haines City. On a hot, windy day, Armstrong finished the 1.2-mile swim in 24:52, 56-mile bike in 2:01:13, 10 minutes faster than the field and 1:15:56 in the 13.1-mile run to finish in 3 hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds. Part-time pro David Kahn was first out of the swim in 23:29. It was Armstrong’s fourth 70.3 event. Armstrong told reporters, “I felt pretty good I must say. Think I finally figured out the nutrition component which has been dogging me.”….
Ted Knapp, an assistant under Skip Kenney for the last 28 years, was named head coach of the men’s swimming and diving team at Stanford. Kenney is retiring after 33 years. Knapp swam for Kenney his junior and senior years…April Woo was hired as an assistant women’s coach at Florida Gulf Coast University after coaching three seasons at Cleveland State. She was nominated as 2011 Assistant Coach of the Year Award…Minnesota men’s and women’s associate head coach Bill Tremel has accepted the head women’s coaching job at Marshall University. Tremel has been with the Golden Gophers for eight seasons.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org