London’s Calling: Scott Weltz and Micah Lawrence

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 11. SIXTEEN days until the London Opening Ceremonies. Athletes are fine-tuning, reporters are stretching their fingers and checking their mics, photographers are cleaning their lenses. Everything is being prepared for the world's biggest multi-sport athletic event.

But what if nobody prepared for an athlete to make it in the first place? One of the biggest upsets at Team USA's Olympic Trials was in the 200 breaststroke, when Scott Weltz defeated breaststroke legends Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau. Today, Swimming World features the former Aggie, as well as the women's 200 breaststroke Trials runner-up Micah Lawrence.

Scott Weltz:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

When the UC Davis Men's Swimming and Diving teams were cut in July of 2010, Scott Weltz had already put in his four years as a collegiate athlete. He could move on without having the burden of wondering where his swimming career was headed. Unfortunately, he hadn't planned to stop swimming under his Aggie coach Peter Motekaitis.

Weltz instead became an assistant coach for the UC Davis women's team. He also sat down with Coach Motekaitis and mapped out the path to the London 2012 Olympics. Apparently, X marks the spot.

Weltz won the 200 breaststroke at Trials in an upset against breaststroke heavy weights Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen, who placed third and fourth in the event, respectively.

Later that night, a jubilant Weltz told the press to “…never count an Aggie out.”

During his collegiate career, Weltz was named the 2009 and 2010 Big West Conference Male Athlete of the Year, preceded by winning the 2006 Big West Conference Freshman of the Year.

Despite these honors, Weltz has never finished higher than fourth at a USA Swimming national championship. In the 2008 Trials, he finished 37th in the 200 breaststroke, with his highest finish in the 400 IM, where he placed 30th.

“I had the itch,” Weltz said after his upset at this year's trials, “I really wanted it.”

After placing fourth in the 100 breaststroke earlier in the week, Weltz admits that he was “…kind of crushed after the hundred, and I didn't want to feel that way again.”

So he made sure that didn't happen, bringing the last 50 of his 200 home in a remarkably fast 33 seconds. This final split was considerably faster than any of his competitors, and cinched him the win.

And as far as London goes? Weltz looks forward to being on a team with Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau, who both qualified in the 100 breaststroke.

“They are leaders on the team and will really help me. They give me someone to look up to,” commented Weltz. “These guys are legends.”

Also check out today's new Off The Wall Radio Show, where hosts Nathan Jendrick and Felipe Delgado discuss Scott Weltz' breakout performance in the 200 breaststroke at trials.

Micah Lawrence:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

The 2011 NCAA Championships were a bit of a disappointment for Micah Lawrence. She only placed 21st in the 200 breaststroke, 16 places lower than her fifth place finish as a college freshman in 2009.

Instead of falling back into the routine, the then-Junior at Auburn decided to change her scenery. She took off her 2011-2012 season and went to swim for Dave Marsh at SwimMAC Carolina.

The switch-up paid off in a big way. Lawrence finished second in the 200 breaststroke at Trials to Rebecca Soni, earning herself a ticket to London later this month.

“It's a great feeling,” a smiling Lawrence told Swimming World after the 200 breast finals. “It's a whole new experience.”

The 21-year-old grew up in the town of Pflugerville, Texas, about 30 minutes outside of Austin. She started swimming at age six after her parents suggested swimming to help her older sister's injured knee.

At the 2008 Trials, Lawrence placed 17th in the 200 breaststroke and 37th in the 100 breaststroke. She was the 2011 National Champion in the 200 meter breaststroke, and in 2010 placed third at nationals in the 100 meter breaststroke, earning a spot on the Pan Pacific Championship team.

After the London Olympics, Lawrence is planning on returning to Auburn for her senior year. She may even return with a little bit of Olympic ink.

“I've been thinking about it,” Lawrence said in response to questions about getting the trademark Olympic Rings tattoo. “But I guess I have to think about it a little more!”

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller, who wonders why she spent four years studying Biology when it's far more fascinating to write about the sport that she loves.

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