Several current and former members of the University of Wisconsin swimming and diving program posted strong performances in their final tune-up before the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials, as a number of swimmers with ties to the Badgers competed over the weekend in the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational.
UW athletes added a total of four qualifying marks for the Trials, which will be staged in the same temporary pool at the Qwest Center that played host to last weekends meet. A total of 16 swimmers who competed for the Badgers last season now have qualified for the Trials.
Senior Ben Bruce punched his ticket to the Trials with a time of 2:04.34 that placed him third in the preliminaries of the mens 200 backstroke. Bruce then claimed a sixth-place finish in the finals by clocking 2:06.78, while fellow senior Mike Hopkins, who already had qualified for the Trials in the event, took third in 2:03.67.
Also adding to the list of qualifiers was junior Dan Koenig, who did not reach the finals in the mens 100 breaststroke but cut nearly two seconds off his personal-best time to slide in below the Trials standard with a preliminaries time of 1:04.65.
After coming into the meet with the 16th-fastest seed time, recent UW graduate Brett Koerten came up with an Olympic Trials-qualifying performance in the mens 400 individual medley, taking fifth place in a time of 4:29.58.
Junior Sara Goff swam her way into the Trials, as well, clocking a time of 1:04.16 in the prelims of the womens 100 backstroke that was good enough for 13th overall in the meet. Teammate Maggie Meyer also narrowly missed the finals of the event after posting the 10th-fastest time in the prelims at 1:03.65.
We had a great meet, UW head coach Eric Hansen said. Were just three weeks away from the Trials and I really feel good about where were at. I think were in a position to have the type of meet that we had at the 2004 Olympic Trials.
Also on the womens side, recent graduate Jackie Vavrek lowered her seed time for the Trials in the 50 freestyle with an impressive fourth-place finish in 25.43.
Carly Piper, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, led the way for the contingent of former Badgers competing in the event by qualifying for the finals and placing in three separate events. Piper took fourth in the womens 200 freestyle in 2:00.73, was sixth in the 100 free with a time of 56.40 and finished eighth in the 400 free after clocking in at 4:18.56.
Another former UW All-American, Tim Liebhold, lowered his personal-best time in the 200 individual medley on the way to a third-place finish in 2:00.30, while former Badger Adam Mania took fifth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.43.
The U.S. Olympic Trials will be held in Omaha from June 29 to July 6, with NBC and USA Network providing an hour of television coverage from 7-8 p.m. each day of the event. More information on the Trials is available at www.usaswimming.org .