SOFLO’s Tiffany Oliver Swims Lifetime Best Time At U.S. Olympic Trials

SOFLO’s Tiffany Oliver Swims Lifetime Best Time At U.S. Olympic Trials



June 29, 2012

In a pressure-packed atmosphere, South Florida Aquatic Club’s Tiffany Oliver swam a career-best time on one of swimming’s biggest stages Friday night in Omaha.

On the fifth day of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, the Florida State junior won her heat in the 100-meter freestyle in a best time of 56.71. Her splits were 27.33, one of her fastest, and 29.38.

Oliver, 19, finished 54th among a field of 133 swimmers in her Olympic trials debut.

Oliver will swim the 50-meter freestyle prelims on Sunday along with SOFLO teammate Jessie Alcaide and five-time Olympian Dara Torres of the Coral Springs Swim Club. At 45, Torres is going after a record sixth Olympic team.

Oliver will be joined by FSU teammates CJ Hendry and Kaitlyn Dressel in the sprint event.

“This was a mental breakthrough for me,” Oliver said by phone from Omaha. “That was one of my faster opening splits. Usually at big meets I get nervous and let my nerves overcome me.

“I am really happy to go a best time at trials. Now I get ready for Sunday. I am more excited about the 50, it’s shorter.”

Oliver is fitting in nicely at the meet that features the nation’s best swimmers.

“It was really shocking at first to be here,” Oliver said. “All the great stars are here. It’s been entertaining seeing everyone you see on TV or read about. I see new people every day. I saw Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak warming up. They warm up in crowded lanes just like us. 

“Of course, I feel like I belong here. I like racing here. When I walked in the door I didn’t realize it was an arena and there was a pool where the basketball court was. I just thought wow I have never seen that before, an indoor pool in an arena. I didn’t think it would be like this.”

Oliver isn’t even thinking about down the road in another four years at the next trials for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But she admits she is getting stoked for the collegiate season in the fall.

“I like to take it step by step.” Oliver said. “I am motivated for the fall and the start of college season. I would like to think hopefully, I will make it in another four years.

“I am glad I am here. It’s been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot. It’s great seeing all the fans. I didn’t know swimming was so popular here but it is.”

In front of a sellout capacity crowd of more than 14, 103 at CenturyLink Arena in Omaha on Friday, there were a few surprises in the finals and semifinals on the fifth night.

In the much-anticipated men’s 200-meter individual medley semifinals pitting Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, Lochte swam the fastest time in the world this year in a textile-best 1:55.51 in the first semifinal. Lochte and Phelps were stroke for stroke after the first two legs. Lochte pulled away slightly during the breaststroke leg. They both cruised into the wall on the freestyle. Phelps was second top qualifier in 1:56.66. Lochte’s training mate Conor Dwyer was top qualifier in a best time in the second semifinal and qualified third overall in 1:58.32.

The men’s 100-meter freestyle final featured six Olympians in the field.

California’s Nathan Adrian, 23, led from start to finish to win in 48.10. Cullen Jones, 28, of SwimMAC was a surprising second in 48.46 and is the first African-American swimmer on the 2012 U.S. Olympic swim team. Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens and Jimmy Feigen were third, fourth and fifth to qualify for the relay and Jason Lezak, 36, is going back to the Olympics on the relay after finishing sixth in 48.88.

“Making the team is the hardest part,” Adrian said. “I thought I wouldn’t be nervous going into it,  but I was nervous as ever. It’s quite a relief to be on the team. I just followed the race plan for the last 50 meters. I put my head down and did not breathe to get to the wall.”

Added Jones: “It means a lot to be going back after 2008. I wanted to represent the U.S. I am really happy I pulled that out. I am ready to do it again.”

Texas A&M head women’s coach Steve Bultman, former coach at the now-defunct Mission Bay in west Boca Raton, is all but assured a spot on the Olympic coaching staff after qualifying his second swimmer on the team.

Texas A&M Aggies’ Cammile Adams won the 200-meter butterfly in 2:06.52, fastest time in U.S. history. Kathleen Hersey of Texas was second in 2:07.72.

“My coach is big about swimming your own race, doing your own thing and taking it out there I feel good,” Adams said. “That’s what I did. I like bringing it home, so I wanted to keep things exciting.”

Sentimental favorite Teresa Crippen of the University of Florida was fourth in 2:09.45 and missed her shot at making the team.

“If it weren’t for Coach Shoulberg, University of Florida and family, I wouldn’t have been in the pool at all the last two years,” said Crippen, who lost her brother Fran to a tragic drowning during a FINA-sanctioned open water event in United Emirates two years ago.

In other races Friday night:

Men’s 200-meter breaststroke:

The U.S. men’s team is going to have four different breaststrokers in London. In the 200 final, Scott Weltz, 25, of San Jose, shocked the field to win in a best time 2:09.01, third fastest in U.S. history, followed by Clark Burckle of Louisville in 2:09.97. The 100 Olympic breaststrokers and favorites coming in, Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen finished third and fourth respectively in 2:10.05 and 2:10.25. Both were noticeably disappointed after the race. Burckle took it out fast in the first 50 at 29.05 and held it at 1:02.11 at the 100. Shanteau flirted with the lead briefly at 150 meters while Hansen faded to fourth. Four swimmers were bunched together coming down the stretch with Weltz and Burckle surging ahead in the final 20 meters. Burckle just outlunged Shanteau to the wall for second. Weltz was 37th in the trials four years ago.

“I owe it all to my coach,” said Weltz, an assistant coach at UC-Davis where he trains. “Ever since day one I told him I wanted to come back. He never stopped believing in me.” Weltz was so excited he climbed over the touchpads to get out of the pool. “Before the race, my whole body was kind of tingling. It just felt different. I just thought it’s time.”

Said Burckle: “Right now I am in shock. I looked up at the board and thought I was fourth. I was disoriented for a minute and didn’t know. I am so proud of what I did.”

Amanda Beard, 30, advanced to the finals in the 200-meter breaststroke finishing fifth in the semifinals in 2:25.90. Beard, trying to qualify for her fifth consecutive Olympics, did not make the team in the 100 breaststroke. Rebecca Soni is the top seed in 2:21.45.

Eleven-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, 29, advanced to the finals of the 100-meter freestyle, as the No. 7 seed in 54.48. She took it out fast but similar to her other races, faded down the final stretch and finished sixth. Coughlin, trying to earn her third consecutive Olympic bid, did not make the team in the 100 backstroke. Amanda Weir, Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt and Jessica Hardy are the fastest qualifiers. Coughlin still has a shot at a relay.

In the men’s 200-meter backstroke semifinals: Tyler Clary (1:55.88) and Nick Thoman (1:58.92) were top qualifiers in the first heat of the semis. Ryan Lochte (1:55.73) and Bolles’ 16-year-old Ryan Murphy (1:57.39) finished 1-2 in the second heat. 


Women’s 200-meter breaststroke: 43. Mhyria Miller, Florida Keys 2:34.33; 77. Emily Kopas, Davie Nadadores 2:37.44; 114. Emily Norton, St. Andrew’s Swimming 2:44.55; Julie Stupp, PAQ, DNS.

Women’s 100-meter freestyle: 54. Tiffany Oliver, SOFLO 56.71; 58. Rhi Jeffrey, Unattached-FGC 56.78; 99. Jessie Alcaide, SOFLO 57.50; 130. Lindsey McKnight, St. Andrew’s Swimming 59.22.

Men’s 200-meter individual medley: 116. Samuel Smiddy, AK Sharks 2:13.40.


Before Friday night’s finals, the U.S. team had 28 members on its Olympic roster including 16 first-time Olympians…At age 34, Naples Erika Erndl made her second semifinal in the 100-meter freestyle…The Anderson family will be in full force in London with sisters Haley in the 10K open water event and Alyssa on the 800-meter freestyle relay…There was a Trojan Swim Club swimmer in every one of Friday’s events and five past or present Gators in the pool…Matt Grevers changed his mind about scratching from the 100-meter freestyle so David Walters will not move up on the alternate’s list. “I’m very confusing, I apologize,” Grevers said. “I really want to be on that relay very badly.”…Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson is the surprise star of the trials. USA Swimming failed to include her biography in its media guide. Her first name is pronounced Bree-yah. Larson is enjoying her newfound celeb status. “Lots of autographs,” Larson said. “Having a lot of little girls pronounce my name right, I’m like, ‘Sure I’ll sign your shirt.’”. Larson also said the trials is the first long course meet she has tapered for…NBC’s live coverage on television was not in-sync with its live streaming webcast. Several Twitter complaints about NBC breaking away before the women’s 200 butterfly race was completed to switch to the gymnastics trials then 20 minutes later NBC switched back to the Lochte-Phelps semifinal. After that race, the TV network returned to the gymnastics while the live streaming stayed with the swimming…TV ratings for NBC’s trials coverage dipped on Thursday night with 6.2 million viewers…At least nine members of the USA Swimming staff have lost their homes because of the Waldo Canyon wildfires in Colorado Springs. The Olympic Training Center and offices have been shut down.


“I love when my parents officiate the trials through the TV.”—former SOFLO swimmer Leonie Davies

“I made it, 2012 Olympian. No time to celebrate since I am swimming the 50 tomorrow.”—Nathan Adrian

“What a night. Going to London for a second event. Still got a lot of work to do, but stoked to be on this historic relay.”—Ricky Berens

“I live to fight another day.”—Natalie Coughlin

“Decided to swim the 50 even though I had my doubts. Can’t go anywhere but up at this point.”—Rhi Jeffrey


Morning session: Men’s 50 Free H, Women’s 800 Free H, Men’s 100 Butterfly H, Women’s 200 Backstroke H.

Evening session: Men’s 50 Free SF, Women’s 200 Breaststroke F, Men’s 200 Backstroke F, Women’s 200 Backstroke SF, Men’s 200 IM F, Women’s 100 Free F, Men’s 100 Butterfly SF.


Prelims 6:30-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Finals, 8-9 p.m. ET, NBC

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Schmitt, Phelps Win On Day Four Of U.S. Olympic Trials; SOFLO’s Alcaide, Oliver Compete Friday

Schmitt, Phelps Win On Day Four Of U.S. Olympic Trials; SOFLO’s Alcaide, Oliver Compete Friday


January 28, 2012

North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates Allison Schmitt broke her own American record and Michael Phelps stayed on course to swim eight events at the London Olympics to highlight action Thursday night in front of 11,849 at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha.

Schmitt, the top seed in the 200-meter freestyle and two seconds faster than anyone in the final, showed why with an impressive swim.

Schmitt took it out fast in 27.01 and settled into American record pace the rest of the way. Schmitt had a full body-length lead by the third 50 meters.

Schmitt, now a double Olympic gold medal threat, won in 1:54.40, fastest time in the world this year. She broke her previous record of 1:54.96.

Teenager Missy Franklin moved from fifth to second off the final wall to finish second in 1:56.79. The remaining four swimmers, Dana Vollmer, Lauren Perdue, Shannon Vreeland and Alyssa Anderson qualified for the relay.

“I knew I had to take it out in order to get a good time,” Schmitt said. “That’s what I tried to do. I just tried to hold on.”

Said Franklin: “I am happy all three of us (Franklin, Schmitt, Vollmer) were next to each other. I knew it would be an incredible race. I knew I had to come back in the end and get my hand on the wall.”

Phelps, 26, has owned the 200-meter butterfly event for ten years. It was his first event he qualified for in his first Olympics and continues to be a sentimental race for the 14-time Olympic gold medalist.

Phelps controlled the men’s final to win in 1:53.65, fastest time in the world this year. Phelps made his surge on the third leg and was a full body-length ahead of the field when he touched.

Phelps is the first swimmer to threepeat two events in trials history. It was also his 11th win at trials.

“The biggest thing is that this is my fourth Olympics in this race,” Phelps said. “It’s been a pretty special race for me. I was able to put together an all right time tonight. It is decent but it’s going to take better than that to win a gold medal.”

Tyler Clary, who just missed making it in the 400-meter individual medley by finishing third, took second in 1:55.12 and qualified for his first Olympics. He just edged Bobby Bouiller in third in 1:55.79. Davis Tarwater was fourth in 1:56.83.

Early leader Tarwater tried to hold on but Clary turned it on and made up a full body- length in the last 15 meters.

“It hasn’t even settled in,” said Clary, who battled a fever all last weekend. “I am trying to go over everything that happened in that race. The last 100 meters I didn’t think any way I could come back. It’s like the biggest endorphin rush and biggest explosion of serotonin in your head.”

Phelps scratched from the 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter backstroke heats.

Ryan Lochte talked with NBC’s Bob Costas during a break in the races.

“We’re going to light it up in London,” Lochte said.

“The one good thing about Olympic trials is this is the only meet where second is just as good as first. I’m not going to London for the silver or bronze, I am going for the gold. Win or lose Michael and I are still going to be friends no matter what, that’s what separates us from everyone else.”

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Jessie Alcaide and Tiffany Oliver will compete in the 100-meter preliminaries on Friday morning.

In other races Thursday night:

Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Caitlin Leverenz came on during the breaststroke leg to win in 2:10.22. Ariana Kukors, who has been training at Bolles, put on a late surge to take second in 2:11.30 and make her first Olympic team. “This is the most emotional moment for me,” Kukors said. “The last 50 I just closed my eyes and prayed.” Liz Pelton of Naples was the early leader but was overtaken during the breaststroke and faltered to third in 2:11.55.  The IM was Pelton’s best chance at making the team.

Men’s 100-meter freestyle semifinals: As expected, Nathan Adrian is the top seed in 48.33. Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens, and Ryan Lochte  were also among top qualifiers. Grevers and Lochte both scratched from the finals moving Jason Lezak and Dave Walters into the finals.

Women’s 200-meter butterfly semifinals: On the heels of Breeja Larson’s breaststroke win, Texas A&M Aggies teammate Cammile Adams, 20, is the top seed in 2:08.07 followed by Kathleen Hersey in 2:08.61 and Teresa Crippen in 2:09.59. 

Men’s 200-meter breaststroke semifinals: In a great second semifinal, Clark Burckle (2:10.01), Eric Shanteau (2:10.14) and Brendan Hansen (2:10.45) were stroke for stroke down the final stretch and finished as top qualifiers. Scott Weltz was top finisher in the first semifinal in 2:10.99.


Women’s 200-meter butterfly: 129. Julie Stupp, PAQ 2:25.26

Men’s 200-meter breaststroke: 125. Nick Manousos, Davie Nadadores 2:25.52


After Dana Vollmer qualified in the 100-meter butterfly, her husband and Olympic trials swimmer Andy Grant gave her a gold charm with the Olympic rings on it….According to USA Swimming’s database, Bolles’ Ryan Murphy’s 53.76 is the fastest ever by a 16-and-under….Six teenagers qualified for the women’s 200-meter semifinals including 14-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater. Before her race Mann kneeled on the pool deck and said a prayer…Coral Springs Swim Club’s five-time Olympian Dara Torres and her coach Bruno Darzi arrived in Omaha on Thursday. Torres will compete Saturday in the 50-meter freestyle and try to make a record six Olympic teams.


“Olympic Dream time of death—10:34 a.m.”—Dax Hill

“Just saw a man fill 2 water bottles with pool water and conspicuously put them in his cargo pants. Wonder if we’ll see these on ebay.”—The Nation


Morning session: Women’s 100 Free H, Men’s 200 backstroke H, Women’s 200 Breaststroke H, Men’s 200 IM H

Evening session: Men’s 200 Breaststroke F, Women’s 100 Free SF, Men’s 200 Backstroke SF, Women’s 200 Butterfly F, Men’s 100 Freestyle F, Women’s 200 Breaststroke SF, Men’s 200 IM SF


Prelims, 4:30-6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN Sports

Finals, 8-9 p.m. ET, NBC

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Franklin Breaks American Record; Phelps Beats Lochte On Day 3 Of U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

Franklin Breaks American Record; Phelps Beats Lochte On Day 3 Of U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials


June 27, 2012

In their second head-to-head showdown of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Wednesday night in Omaha, Michael Phelps got in the second punch.

The 14-time Olympic gold medalist from North Baltimore Aquatic Club raced an impressive 200-meter freestyle final to win by 5/100ths of a second over rival Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach.

The U.S. men’s team top two swimmers are now 1-1 after Lochte won the 400-meter individual medley on opening night.

“Obviously, it’s been a while, so it felt better,” Phelps said.”But there’s still some things I can improve on.”

It was a race from the start with Lochte in Lane 4 and Phelps in Lane 5. Phelps, the defending Olympic champion in the event, led for most of the race with Lochte right behind him.

Off the third wall turn, Phelps glanced at Lochte and turned it on to win in 1:45.70. Lochte was second in 1:45.75.

Ricky Berens was third in 1:46.56 and will join fourth place finisher Conor Dwyer on the 800 free relay team.

“I was watching the semifinals and my turns are something that killed me,” Phelps said. “I wanted to jump on the first 100 a little bit and nail some good turns.”

Phelps, seeded second going into the race, was noticeably happy smiling while swimming over the lane lines. The two are scheduled again to meet Saturday night in the 200 IM final.

“I always count on Ryan having a good race,” Phelps said. “I know it’s going to come down to the finishes. I got one back but we are going to have a lot more of this.”

It wasn’t only the Phelps-Lochte show.

American teenager Missy Franklin made her first Olympic team and did it in style breaking the American record in the 100-meter backstroke.

Franklin, 17, won in 58.85, breaking her idol Natalie Coughlin’s American record of 58.94 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Franklin, trailing after the first 50 meters, came on in the final 20 meters.

“I have dreamed of this moment, but I never thought it would come true at 17 years old,” Franklin said. “Dreams do come true.”

Another teenager, Rachel Bootsma, 18, was second in 59.49. Coughlin was third in 1:00.06 and has one shot left to make the team. Coughlin will not get a chance to make a third straight run at Olympic gold in her backstroke event.

“I can’t even put into words what it means to make my first Olympic team, it hasn’t hit me yet,” Franklin said. “It means the world to me. I am so happy.

“Natalie is my biggest role model. I am proud of her no matter what. She has accomplished so much. I am praying for her. I would love her to be on the team so much.”

Said Coughlin, an 11-time Olympic medalist: “It’s not exactly what I was hoping for coming into this, but I’ve done everything I could possibly do this year. I’m a little bummed. My training has been amazing. The races just haven’t been quite there.”

On Wednesday night she had 20 minutes between the semifinals of the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke final. She was the top qualifier in the backstroke. Her time of 59.06 in the semis was less than second off Gemma Spofforth’s world record.

“Right now I still feel awesome and full of energy,” Franklin said.

In other races on Wednesday night:

Men’s 100-meter backstroke: Six-foot-4 Matt Grevers made his second Olympic team winning in an impressive 52.08, second fastest time in history. He went out in 25.37. Nick Thoman of SwimMAC was second in 52.86, the third fastest time.

“It was comfortable. I was so excited in the water, it was just natural speed. It was perfect training. I owe it all to my coaches.”

Said Thoman: “I looked at the scoreboard and then I turned around and looked back again. I didn’t know I made it. I am so excited.”

Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson, coached by former Mission Bay coach Steve Bultman, knocked off Rebecca Soni to win in 1:05.92 and made her first Olympic team. Soni was second in 1:05.99. Jessica Hardy led at the first 50 meters but faded to third in 1:06.53. Bultman was the first person Larson hugged when she got out of the pool along with her Aggie teammates. Grevers’ fiancé Annie Chandler was fifth in 1:07.28.

“I dreamt about this for as long as I’ve been swimming,” Larson said. “I think every person wants to go, but it’s a shot in the dark. I am still processing this.”

Said Soni: “I’m happy to have that ticket to London and I’m happy to be going. I am really proud of Breeja.”

Women’s 200-meter freestyle semifinal: In the opening event of the evening session, Allison Schmitt of North Baltimore Aquatic Club and coached by Bob Bowman, earned the top seed in 1:55.59 followed by Shannon Vreeland, Dana Vollmer, Megan Romano and Missy Franklin, who had 20 minutes to prepare for her 100-meter backstroke final.

Men’s 200-meter butterfly semifinals: Phelps, world and American record holder in the event, had plenty left in the tank to qualify third in 1:56.42 behind Bobby Bollier in 1:56.06 and Davis Tarwater in 1:56.10.

Women’s 200-meter individual medley: California’s Caitlin Leverenz is top seed in 2:10.51 going into finals followed by Liz Pelton in 2:11.37 and Elizabeth Beisel in 2:12.27.


Women’s 200-meter freestyle: 57. Rhi Jeffrey, Unattached FGC 2:03.27; 67. Lindsey McKnight, St. Andrew’s Swimming 2:03.83; 76. Lauren Driscoll, Swim Fort Lauderdale 2:04.13.

Men’s 200-meter butterfly:

46. Connor Knight, North Palm Beach 2:02.08, best time; 72. Austin Manganiello, AK Sharks 2:03.24; 108. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 2:05.30; 116. Kevin Bandy, PAQ 2:05.93.

200-meter individual medley: 64. Julie Stupp, PAQ 2:19.78; Lindsey McKnight, St. Andrew’s Swimming, disqualified.


Television ratings after three nights of coverage is at 7 million viewers and a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating…Temperatures reached 104 degrees in Omaha on Wednesday…Katie Hoff, who trains in Naples, still suffering from an intestinal virus, failed to make the 200-meter freestyle finals, her last best chance to make her third straight Olympic team. Four years ago, she won five events at trials. Hoff has the 800 remaining on Saturday. “I was trying to go in very positive,” Hoff said. “I gave it everything I had. Just didn’t feel like I had my normal pop.”…Elizabeth Beisel and Natalie Coughlin scratched from the 200-meter freestyle…According to statisticians at Swim Swam, 78 percent of Wednesday’s prelims swam slower than the seed times at trials…Flyover starts are being used in the time trials only.


“If Matt Grevers and Annie Chandler both qualify tonight there should be an on-deck impromptu wedding. Let’s do it.”—Christine Magnuson


Morning session: Men’s 100 Free H, Women’s 200 Fly H, Men’s 200 Breaststroke H

Evening session: Men’s 100 F Semis, Women’s 200 Free Final, Men’s 200 Fly Final, Women’s 200 Fly SF, Men’s 200-meter breaststroke SF, Women’s 200 IM F


Prelims, 6:30-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN Sports

Finals, 8-9 p.m. ET, NBC

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 178: SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Swims Best Time, Named Swimmer Of The Day

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 178: SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Swims Best Time, Named Swimmer Of The Day


June 23, 2012

Caroline Kuczynski swam back-to-back best times during the Swedish Long Course Nationals on Wednesday

Kuczynski swam lead-off on the 400-meter freestyle relay that just missed a medal. She was clocked in 57.73 during finals bettering her previous best time she swam in prelims.

Kuczynski was also named Swimmer of the Day at the meet and was given a gift from her coach, a book entitled The Time of My Life by Cececlia Ahern.

“So proud of the team today! We had great swims. Everyone is amazing,” Kuczynski tweeted.

SOFLO teammate Sharntelle McLean of Trinidad and Tobago won two silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.94 and 50-meter backstroke in 31.12 at the CISC Championships in Aruba. Dylan Carter set a national and CISC record in the 50-meter freestyle in 23.39.

Silva Kicked Off Olympic Team

Glauber Silva was kicked off the Brazilian Olympic team by the Brazilian Swimming Federation for testing positive. Silva, who had qualified for the 100-meter butterfly, was suspended for two years. No swimmer will replace him in the event.

Silva was one of three Brazilians that tested positive at the Maria Lenk Trophy Meet. Silva tested positive for testosterone.

Pamela Alencar De Souza was suspended for six months for the substance furosemide, a diuretic.

Flavia Delaroli was suspended for three months for testing for tuaminoheptano. She has been using the substance for years because of a chronic illness but neglected to submit a therapeutic use exemption before the meet.


Former Florida Atlantic University runner and swimmer Manny Huerta, a 2012 triathlon Olympian from Miami, is featured on the cover of Tri Magazine…Kunio Kono has been hired as the new men’s and women’s swimming and diving head coach at University of New Mexico. Kono was at University of Las Vegas…Swimmer Caitlin Leverenz has been nominated for the 2012 ESPY awards as Best Female Collegiate Athlete.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Western Kentucky’s Claire Donahue Qualifies For First Olympics On Day Two Of U.S. Olympic Trials

Western Kentucky’s Claire Donahue Qualifies For First Olympics On Day Two Of U.S. Olympic Trials


June 26, 2012

In front of a deafening crowd at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Claire Donahue found another gear to get herself on the U.S. Olympic team.

Four years ago, the Western Kentucky alum was 32nd at the U.S. Olympic trials. On Tuesday night, Donahue lived up to her potential to finish second in the 100-meter butterfly behind Dana Vollmer and qualified for the London Olympics.

Donahue, swimming in Lane One, finished in a lifetime-best 57.57. She went out in 26.68, third fastest split in the field and finished with a better back half than anybody else in the field.

Vollmer, who set the textile best and American record in 56.42 during semifinals, won in 56.50. Vollmer was under world record pace until the final 15 meters.

While Vollmer was the favorite, Donahue, even though she won gold at the last year’s Pan American Games, was the underdog after a shaky semifinal where she finished tied for sixth.

Donahue, 23, is well-known in South Florida. She has trained several times at South Florida Aquatic Club’s Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines as a collegian and post-grad the past four years and recently leading up to the trials.

“I still can’t believe it,” Donahue said holding a large red WKU banner. “I looked up and saw No. 2 and that’s all I was looking for. I am so happy. There are no words.

“I think the past four years it’s been a gradual kind of thing with me improving,” Donahue said. “I feel myself more and understand how my body responds to certain things.

“This past summer what pushed me further was working on the second half of my 100 fly. It’s huge to think the dream I had almost 15 years ago is actually coming true.”

She received several texts and tweets from family and friends In Lenoir City, Tennessee, where she grew up, Kentucky and Florida.

“Congrats Claire on making the Olympics in the 100 fly! Proud to have trained with you!” tweeted former SOFLO swimmer Leonie Davies now in Texas at The Woodlands.

Vollmer, who broke the American record on Monday, was just as happy to make the team as Donahue even though she was the favorite. Vollmer made the team in 2004 as a 16-year-old but missed out on the 2008 team with injuries and illness.

“It’s a relief just to look up and see I made it,” Vollmer said. “It all comes down to the final where it’s anybody’s game. I didn’t need to break the world record or anything special. I just had to get to London.”

Olympian Natalie Coughlin was seventh in the butterfly in 58.66 and is danger of not making the Olympic team after a shaky backstroke semifinal in which she is seeded seventh for finals in 1:00.63.

In the 400-meter freestyle, three-time Olympic legend Janet Evans, 40, a wife and mother of two, finished seventh in her heat and 80th overall in 4:21.49, off her seed time of 4:17.27. It was a tune-up race for the 800.

“I was actually more nervous than ever,” Evans said. “I was talking to my husband about it. It is such a different situation because when I swam at trials and meets before, I knew I would at least be in the finals, or maybe win or get second.

“It was a very different mental game for me, just swimming to swim. I am so used to swimming for a purpose. Just to be here to enjoy it was different emotionally for me. I’m not saying it was better or worse. It was just a different mindset.”

Evans will swim the 800 on Saturday.

Katie Hoff, feeling sick before the race according to her coach Paul Yetter, failed to make the final of the women’s 400-meter freestyle finishing in 4:13.08 in prelims. “I am hoping to feel more like myself tomorrow,” Hoff tweeted.

Despite being second-fastest qualifier in prelims, Ryan Lochte scratched from the 100-meter backstroke semifinal to focus on the 200-meter semifinals where he earned the top seed.

In other races Tuesday night:

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Brendan Hansen, 30, shooting for his third Olympic berth against a loaded field, won in 59.68. Trailing at the wall, Hansen turned it on in the last 25 meters to win. Inspirational cancer survivor Eric Shanteau was second in 1:00.15 and also qualified. Japan’s double Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima was watching from the stands. Kitajima trains with Shanteau. He also beat Hansen at the 2008 Olympics.

“I just have a smile on my face knowing we are going to London,” said Hansen who staged a comeback at the urging of his wife. “Now the pressure is off. I am excited Eric is going. Kitajima now knows how hard it is to make the U.S. Olympic team. We will see him in London.”

Said Shanteau: “This is the best feeling in the world. This is just great. I can’t describe it right now.”

Women’s 400-meter freestyle: Allison Schmitt of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, coming off altitude training, took it out so fast that she was one second under world record pace for the first 200 meters. She fell off the pace at 300 but held on for the win in 4:02.84, third fastest time in the world this year. 2008 Open water Olympian Chloe Sutton, who said she wanted to make the team in the pool, was second in 4:04.18. Katie Ledecky, 15, competing in her first national meet, was third in 4:05. Clearwater’s Beeca Mann was sixth in 4:08.65, just a second off Sippy Woodhead’s 1978 national age group record.

“I am so happy to be here, I don’t have any words,” Sutton said.

Schmitt said “I definitely heard the crowd going. I got excited. I was just hoping for that wall first.”

Men’s 200-meter freestyle semifinals: In another great race, Ryan Lochte finished ahead of Michael Phelps by 2/100ths of a second to earn the top seed for finals. Conor Dwyer, Ricky Berens and Charlie Houchin also qualified after a tight semifinal.

Women’s 100-meter breaststroke semifinals: Rebecca Soni, trailing Jessica Hardy at the wall, turned it on in the final 25 meters to earn the top seed in 1:05.82. Hardy was second in 1:06.88 and Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson was third in 1:07.00. Soni broke the Olympic trials record twice in the same day. Amanda Beard, in search of her fifth consecutive Olympic berth, was seventh in morning prelims and tenth in semis in 1:07.92 failing to make finals.

Women’s 100-meter backstroke semifinals: America’s sweetheart Missy Franklin posted the fastest qualifying time in prelims and semifinals in 59.06 followed by Rachel Bootsma in 59.10.

“Talk about motivation, you just look up and see the Olympic rings on the overhead scoreboard,” Franklin said.

Men’s 100-meter backstroke semifinals: Matt Grevers swam a textile best time of 52.94 in morning prelims for the top seed and finished first again in semifinals in 53.10. David Plummer is seeded second in 53.24. Bolles teenager Ryan Murphy earned the fifth seed in 53.76.


Women’s 100-meter backstroke: 86. Tasija Karosas, St. Andrew’s Swimming 1:04.16; 132. Alana Berrocal, Pine Crest 1:05.01; 139. Danielle Smith, FLA Boca/West Virginia 1:05.27; 151. Clara Smiddy, Unattached 1:05.80.

Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: 47. Emily Kopas, Davie Nadadores 1:11.14; 74. Mhyria Miller, Florida Keys 1:11.99, 137. Lindsey McKnight, St. Andrew’s Swimming.

Women’s 400-meter freestyle: 48. Lauren Driscoll, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:18.75.


SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski and former Comets swimmer Natasha Moodie are listed as swimmers competing at the U.S. trials even though Kuczynski represents Canada and Moodie represents Jamaica…Jacksonville Bolles’ Ryan Murphy broke his own 15-16 national age group record in the 100-meter backstroke in 54.23 to earn the fifth seed in finals and broke his national record again in semifinals in 53.76…15-year-old Katie Ledecky, competing in her first national meet, broke Janet Evans national age group record in the 400-meter freestyle with a third place time of 4:05.00…Rachel Bootsma turned in the third fastest time in the 100-meter backstroke semifinals and broke the 17-18 national age group record in 59.10…Tyler Clary scratched from the 200-meter freestyle…13-year-old Keaton Blovad of the Phoenix Swim Club, the youngest swimmer at the meet, finished the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.70…14-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater Aquatic Team swam 4:10.38 in the 400-meter freestyle to make her second Top 8…ASCA executive director and SwimFast coach John Leonard of Fort Lauderdale couldn’t have picked a better seat, sitting behind Lane 4. He was on television for most of the broadcast taking pictures…NBCSN is not making any friends, heating up Twitter with complaints including blasts from Olympians Markus Rogan of Austria and Arianna Vanderpool of the Bahamas. The last two nights they have ended its broadcasts before the racing was over. They should have at least mentioned the livestream on for the remaining races and medal ceremonies.


“I swim Wednesday at around 10:10 a.m. CST so 11:10 for my family and friends on the east coast and 3:10 a.m. for my family and friends in New Zealand.”—Olympian and Florida Gold Coast swimmer Rhi Jeffrey


Morning session: Women’s 200 Free H, Men’s 200 Fly H, Women’s 200 IM H.

Evening session: Womens’ 200 Free SF, Men’s 200 Free F, Women’s 100 Back F, Men’s 100 Back F, Women’s 100 Breast F, Men’s 200 Fly SF, Women’s 200 IM SF


Prelins, 6:30-8 p.m. ET, NBCSN Sports

Finals, 8-9 p.m. ET, NBC

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Lochte Wins First Race; SOFLO’s Alcaide Opens Trials In Butterfly On Day One Of Olympic Trials

Lochte Wins First Race; SOFLO’s Alcaide Opens Trials In Butterfly On Day One Of Olympic Trials


June 25, 2012

In their first head-to-head showdown of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Monday night in Omaha, Ryan Lochte threw the first punch.

The Daytona Beach swimmer beat longtime rival Michael Phelps for the first time in the 400-meter individual medley. Lochte, the top seed after morning prelims in 4:10.66 and defending world champion, came back to win in a career-best 4:07.05.

Phelps, 14-time Olympic gold medalist, became the first male swimmer to make four consecutive Olympics with his second-place finish in 4:07.89. Tyler Clary, who has tonsilities, was third in 4:09.92.

Phelps is the world record holder and has won the 400 IM in the last two Olympics.

Lochte was in Lane 4, Phelps in Lane 5 and Clary in Lane 6. Phelps led the opening butterfly leg in 25.71 and 55.66. The backstroke leg became a three-man race with Clary taking the lead at 1:27.06 and 1:58.04.

Lochte reached for another gear on the breaststroke leg and pulled away for a body length lead on the field. Picking up his turnover he maintained the lead in the freestyle while Phelps held off Clary. 

“The biggest thing and hardest thing for us is making the team,” Phelps said after his race. “They always have deep stacked fields here. Being able to come in, get the first race out of the way and get the monkey off my back is what I wanted to do.

“Ryan and I have had a lot of tough races,” Phelps said. “I will swim this race in London. Tonight was just a baby step. Ryan knows just like I do that the race that counts is in the next couple weeks.”

Said Lochte: “It’s taken years and years of training to beat Michael. Like he said, this is a baby step. The big picture is the U.S. taking over the world. We have the two best swimmers in this race. The first race is always the hardest. I can go out and have fun now.”

Lochte scratched from the 400-meter freestyle.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Jessie Alcaide swam the first of her three events on Monday morning. Alcaide finished 97th in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.18, off her best time. She went out in 29.17. She has the 100 freestyle on Friday and 50 freestyle on Sunday remaining.

In other races Monday night:

Men’s 400-meter freestyle: In one of the most exciting 400 races ever, Peter Vanderkaay and his Gator Swim Club training meet Conor Dwyer finished 1-2. It will be Vanderkaay’s third Olympics and Dwyer’s first. Charlie Houchin, who has been training at Bolles, took the race out early. Vanderkaay started reeling him in at 150 meters and took the lead at 250 meters and went on to win in 3:47.67. Dwyer came on in the last 50 meters to place second in a best time 3:47.83. 

“I just put my head down like practice, tried to get home and get my hand on the wall,” Dwyer said. “Making my first Olympics is tough to put into words. It’s just a dream come true.”

Said Vanderkaay who moved from Michigan to train in Gainesville said, “I just had a little more experience, that was the difference. Training with Conor all year has been a big asset for me. I am just thrilled.”

Women’s 400-meter individual medley: University of Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel made it look easy winning in 4:31.74, just off the American record. Beisel took off on the backstroke leg and distanced herself from the field. Caitlin Leverenz, fourth at the trials four years ago, was second in a best time 4:34.48. Fourteen-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater Aquatics Team, seeded sixth, was fifth in 4:41.61.

American record holder Katie Hoff scratched from the event.

“I think everybody has confidence issues and I had a lot coming into this race,” Beisel said. “It’s been a long year. I was surprised with my time but I am happy it’s over now. We are both going to medal at London. I definitely think we can do that.”

“This is amazing,” Leverenz said. “It’s hard to put into words. Four years ago I remember finishing fourth and now I’m second. There is so much emotion, I can’t describe it.”

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: In the only race NBC didn’t televise, Brendan Hansen earned the top seed in the semifinals in 59.71, fourth fastest time in the world. He is the first American to break a minute in a textile suit since he did it in 2006. Scott Weltz, Mark Gangloff, Eric Shanteau and deaf swimmer Marcus Titus also qualified.

Women’s 100-meter butterfly: In the semifinals, Olympian Dana Vollmer went out in 26.42, under the world record pace, to break her own American record in 56.42, fastest time in the world this year to earn the No. 1 seed. In her heat, Claire Donahue took it out fast and finished second behind Natalie Coughlin in her heat and is seeded tied for sixth in 58.53. Vollmer, making her fourth trials appearance since she was 12, broke the U.S. Open and trials record of 56.59 in morning prelims. Donahue, 23, a Western Kentucky alum qualified second in a career-best time of 57.82, ninth fastest time in the world. Donahue trained at SOFLO’S Academic Village Pool leading up to the trials.  Jessica Hardy scratched from the 100 butterfly semifinal. Naples’ Erika Erndl barely missed the final in ninth at 58.87.

The Gators are four-for-four in Olympic spots and three-for-three in event wins. Gators head coach Gregg Troy coached four of the first six swimmers to make the Olympic team.


Women’s 400-meter individual medley: 11. Lauren Driscoll, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:44.90.

Women’s 100-meter butterfly: 97. Jessie Alcaide, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:02.18; 100. Rhi Jeffrey, Unattached 1:02.26.

Men’s 400-meter individual medley: 17. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 4:23.39; 50. Ryan Rosenbaum, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:28.26; 109. Sam Smiddy, AK Sharks 4:41.46.

Men’s 400-meter freestyle: 56. Joey Pedraza, Davie Nadadores 3:59.69.

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: 137. Nick Manousos, Davie Nadadores 1:07.11.


Sam Smiddy of AK Sharks was in the same heat as Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley…Forty-year-old Steve West, one the oldest swimmers in the meet, swam 1:03.90 in the 100-meter breaststroke prelims….There are no outside lane lines for lanes one and ten. Swimmers in those outside lanes are up against the wall. Even though the pool was configured for 10 lanes, it wasn’t fitted for outside lane lines even after USA Swimming decided at the last minute to switch prelims from an 8 to 10-lane course….USA Swimming also decided not to have flyover starts to help quicken the pace of morning prelims. Officials wanted to protect the sanctity of the meet as an elite meet and not have it look like an age group meet…Of the record 1,800-plus crowd, 111 swimmers are from Florida…Olympian Amanda Beard has been joined by her husband and son Blaise who went to a College World Series game Monday night in Omaha…A fire alarm at the Hilton, where many swimmers are staying, woke Michael Phelps and Dana Vollmer during their afternoon naps. “Well I have always had a problem with waking up from our naps, but not possible to sleep through that fire alarm,” Phelps posted on Twitter…Kevin Cordes lowered his own 17-18 national age group record in the 100-meter breaststroke semis in 1:00.32.


“Awesome 400 IM, proud mama.”—Debbie Phelps


Morning session: Women’s 100 Backstroke H, Men’s 200 Freestyle H, Women’s 100 Breaststroke H, Men’s 100 Backstroke, Women’s 400 Freestyle H.

Evening session: Women’s 100 Butterfly F, Men’s 200 Freestyle SF, Women’s 100 Breaststroke SF, Men 100 Breaststroke Final, Women 400 Freestyle F, Men 100 Backstroke SF, Women 100 Backstroke SF.


Prelims, 6:30-8:00pm ET, NBCSN Sports 

Finals, 8:00-9:00pm ET, NBC

 Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 177: SOFLO’s Sharntelle McLean Wins At CISC Championship

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 177: SOFLO’s Sharntelle McLean Wins At CISC Championship


June 25, 2012

South Florida Aquatic Club two-time Olympian Sharntelle McLean of Trinidad and Tobago won her opening event in the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships at the Betty Kelly-Kenning Aquatic Centre in Savaneta, Aruba.

McLean, 27, won the 50-meter butterfly in 28.24, the only swimmer under 29 seconds.

McLean also won the 100-meter butterfly in 1:04.76, nearly a minute ahead of Jenna Chaplin, 21, of the Bahamas.

McLean was second in the 100-meter freestyle in 58.72 behind Surinam’s Chinyere Pigot, 18, who trains at Metro Aquatics, in 58.36. The pair were the only swimmers under one minute.

Teammate Dylan Carter, who has trained at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, broke the Games record in the 50-meter butterfly in 24.53. The previous record was 25.39 held by Vereance Burrows of the Bahamas.

Carter also won the 100-meter butterfly in 56.31.

Water polo

Former Stanford star Tony Azevedo and Ryan Bailey became the first men in U.S. history to qualify for four Olympics in water polo. Joining them on the team are Layne Beaubien, Peter Hudnut, Peter Varellas and John Mann, the 2006 College Player of the Year, who is making his Olympic debut. The U.S. took a silver medal in Beijing four years ago. Ironically, there will be two Ryan Baileys at the London Games. Ryan Bailey, the track sprinter, finished third in the 100-meter dash to qualify with Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay in Eugene, Ore.

Sharon Robb can be reached at