Spotlight on Grace Carlson, Youngest U.S. Trials Qualifier of This Year -- July 11, 2008

By Sarah Eckersley

LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon, July 11. GRACE Carlson, who has been training with Lake Oswego Swim Club for merely two years, swam the 50 free (26.72) this past weekend at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Although Carlson did not qualify for the Olympic Team, there is still plenty to be said about her athletic abilities.

Carlson will be celebrating her 13th birthday next month. That fact makes her the youngest athlete to qualify for the Trials this year.

"Grace is a huge talent," said Lake Oswego head coach Coley Stickels. "She has a feel for the water and is naturally streamlined."

Lake Oswego Swim Club has never had an athlete compete in the Olympic Trials and – this time – they had two. Carlson was joined by fellow teammate, Karen Turner. Turner, 14, swam the 100 back (1:03.46) and 200 IM (2:20.19).

The Olympic Trials was invaluable for both athletes.

"I think this was a good experience for the girls. They had been to [Grand Prix and Senior National] meets before, but the Olympic Trials is such a competitive meet," said Stickels. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, just being there and competing against the best swimmers in the world."

For Carlson, the Trials was exhilarating.

"The most exciting part was just seeing all of the famous Olympians [in person] and racing them," she said. "My next goal is making the 2012 Olympic Team."

The goal is not, by any means, unrealistic.

"I think if they continue to work hard and stay on the track that they're on, they have a fairly good chance," said Stickels.

There is more to Carlson than her talent as a swimmer alone. She enjoys singing, learning piano, and reading in her spare time.

"My favorite series is Harry Potter," she said.

But, of course, she loves to swim, too.

"I love going to the pool and training with my friends," said Carlson. "And, when you go to a meet and you know that the training has paid off."

Carlson is right about that. The training has definitely been rewarding. No one would probably agree more with that than Stickels.

"They are great kids," he said. "They work hard and they always come to practice. I think they'll be very successful."

The 2012 Olympic Trials are four years away – and Carlson will be ready for them.

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Reaction Time Comments

July 11, 2008 So how much younger was she than Woodhead? I thought we covered this before, and that Woodhead was youngest, according to USA Swimming.
Submitted by: Park528
July 11, 2008 Up until about a few days before Trials, Sippy was the youngest. She was 13 something, but the youngest 13 they'd had make the Trials.

USA Swimming released a notice when Grace qualified in the 50 free at 12 that she was the youngest to ever compete in the meet.
Submitted by: Jason Marsteller
July 11, 2008 Oh ok. Thats not what I thought I had remembered you writing after one of the threads had people trying to find out who was youngest this year, and that Sippy was in 6th grade when she qualified.

Perhaps I am confused on a minor technicality. Was one group trying to find out who was youngest ever to QUALIFY for Trials, and another trying to find out youngest to actually SWIM at Trials?
Oh well, no big deal.
Submitted by: Park528
July 11, 2008 Interesting. Do they mean youngest to actually compete at the Trials or youngest when she qualified for the Trials? These are two different things. She may have "qualified" for the Trials earlier if she made the cut earlier than the others (Woodhead and Vollmer). However based on what I am reading above, she is still not the youngest qualifier to "compete" at the Trials.
Pretty sure that still goes to Sippy Woodhead. And I am pretty sure I have a little inside on this. I was Dana Vollmer's coach for 6.5 years and took her to 2000 Trials at the age of 12 years and 9 months (which according to my math still makes her younger to compete than Carlson if her birthday is next month).
And back then we were told she was the youngest ever to compete. Then we found out USA-S was wrong and it was still Sippy Woodhead.
So this is not be the first time that USA-S would have got this statistic wrong. But it would be nice if they actually figured out who it really is.
However, if they are saying she is the youngest to qualify then that may be factual as Dana did not make her cut until the month before Trials (12 years 8 months). Don't know when Woodhead qualified when she was 12.
But this young lady is certainly in good company and both of her predecessors ended up Olympic champions, so will be fun to watch her progress.
Submitted by: rcoach
July 11, 2008 I guess maybe it was NOT this site where discussions took place over what the answer is, I thought that Jason Marsteller put an email into USA Swimming and found out and got back to us, that Sippy Woodhead went something like 2:10 to make a NJO cut (might be wrong on this made an NJO cut, but I didsee that time printed), and that shortly after that, a month or so, she dropped five more seconds to go a 2:05, break the NAG record and make trials. I'll have to go though all the threads sometime. And when I was reading those threads, I now don't remember if she WAS the youngest to merely qualify, or to swim at trials or both. I guess Iwas assuming both. Oy
Submitted by: Park528
July 11, 2008 Yeah, there was a conversation on the psych sheet thread. I heard back from USA Swimming something about Sippy.

But, when Carlson qualified, they sent out another alert.

Not sure whether it was qualified, or competed.
Submitted by: Jason Marsteller
July 12, 2008 Dana Vollmer was 12 at the 200 Trials. SInce her birthday is in November, that would make her younger at that Trials than Grace was at the recent one.
Submitted by: rrswim
July 12, 2008 Here we go again! LOL
Submitted by: Park528
July 13, 2008 Based on all the input, I've modified the story to reflect that Grace isn't the youngest ever.

Thanks for the input!
Submitted by: Jason Marsteller
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