Over the next two weeks those trials will feature 1700 American swimmers converging on a pool in Omaha, Neb., vying for one of 52 spots on the 2012 United States Olympic Swim Team. Among those 1700 are returning medalists like Phelps, Torres, and Natalie Coughlin along with a number of aspiring Olympic champions that call North Fulton home.
Between powerhouse swimming clubs Dynamo and SwimAtlanta, 10 local athletes will make the 994 mile trip from Atlanta to Omaha.
“It is a great achievement for any of our athletes to make it this far,” said Swim Atlanta coach Mark Minier, who is sending 28 total athletes to the Trials, including four local residents that train at SwimAtlanta’s Roswell pool.
“My expectations for the kids are just to have a great experience in a very stressful and competitive environment.”
SwimAtlanta’s participants include collegiate swimmers Julia Treible (Florida) and Julia Henkel (Florida State). Treible, a Centennial graduate, will compete in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke. Henkel, a Roswell graduate, will swim the 400-IM.
“They both started with us around the age of 13 and I think they both took off when they saw Kathleen Hersey make the Olympic team. It was one of those if she can do it why can’t I situations,” said Minier of the two collegiate swimmers.
“Like all the kids that have made it this far, they have put in a ton of hard work.”
Brent Murray, who previously swam at the University of Utah, is whom Minier said gives SwimAtlanta the best shot to land in a semifinal or final race — Murray will compete in the 50-Free. Cody Ruel, a rising senior at Alpharetta High School, will compete in the 400-Free.
Dynamo Swim Club, which has pools in Chamblee and Alpharetta, will send 21 total swimmers to Omaha including six with North Fulton ties.
“It’s a significant honor for our kids who train in the pool every day and for up to 20 hours a week,” said Dynamo swim coach Rich Murphy. “I’d say that less than a half of one percent of competitive swimmers can even get to this competition level.”
Allen Browning, an Alpharetta alum currently swimming at Auburn University, qualified for the Olympic Trials in five events (100-Free, 200-Free, 200-Back, 200-Butterfly, and 400-IM).
Recent Northview grad Sam Lewis, a University of North Carolina signee, will swim in the 100-Back. Emily Ranzau, a rising junior at Johns Creek, will swim in the 200-Back.
Jay, Kevin, and Mick Litherland — 16-year old triplets that attend Chattahoochee — all qualified for and will swim at the Olympic Trials. Jay will compete in the 400-IM, 400-Free, and 200-Back. Kevin will swim in the 400 and 1500-Free while Mick swims in the 200-Fly.
The top two swimmers in each event will represent the United States in the London Olympics.
“We just tell our kids to go out and swim as fast as they can and let the chips fall where they may,” said Murphy.