By Bryan Haddad
NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 26. FOUR swimmers qualified for the USA Olympic Team Trials on the first night of the 2004 Nashville Aquatic Club Summer Sizzler contested at the Tracy Caulkins Competition Pool in Nashville, Tennessee. Each of the night's Trial cuts came from the Super Final Heat, a format in which the top four qualifiers swim in the A Final heat with open lanes between them.
The first swim of the night to actually be under the Olympic Trials standard came from Ireland's Andrew Bree, representing (University of) Tennessee Aquatics. Bree swam to a very fast 1:02.74 in the men's 100 meter breaststroke. The 23 year old swimmer has high hopes of qualifying to swim in Athens in August.
While each race was exciting, swimmers kept coming up just short of the chance to swim at Trials. That is until the men's 100 meter butterfly. Each of the four swimmers in the "Super Final" heat was within seven tenths of the standard in prelims and one could feel that we would have a special race coming in finals.
The swimmers did not disappoint as the crowd rose to a standing ovation in cheering home three swimmers just under the Trials time. Ryan Crosby (UN-CA) of Western Kentucky University touched first in 55.29, while Tennessee Aquatics' Andrew Engle (55.37) and Oakland Live Y'ers' Chris Sullivan (55.38) finished second and third respectively. The Olympic Trials standard stands at 55.39.
Oakland Live Y'er's (Michigan) added their second Trials cut of the evening session as 17 year-old Alex Vanderkaay qualified for the meet in the 400 IM with a time of 4:27.88.
Many swimmers qualified for the USA Swimming National Championships in their Friday evening swims. Anna Miller of Pilot-Knoxville and Sarah Peterson of Nashville each qualified in the women's 200 meter freestyle swimming to times of 2:03.96 and 2:04.25. Tennessee Aquatics' Tyler Gustafson qualified the 200 meter freestyle as well, winning the event in 1:53.21 (1:52.85 in prelims). Margo McCawley of Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club qualified for Nationals in the 100 meter butterfly with her first place effort of 1:02.87. Nashville's Lindsay McIlvain swam to a very impressive 4:56.02 in winning the 400 meter IM, while Greater Chattanooga's Ryan Bishop qualified for Nationals with a 4:30.88.
14 year old Andrew Mitchell, swimming Unattached-Nashville posted the evening's best age group performance with a 4:38.34 in the 13-14 Boys 400 meter IM. The time would have been second on last year's NAG Top 16 List.
The meet features nearly 700 swimmers from thirteen states, Canada, and the Cayman Islands.