The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials began competition Monday morning in Omaha, Neb., where there will be a total of 42 future, current, and former Auburn swimmers featured on the country's biggest stage. Only the top two swimmers for each event qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. Considering there are over 2,000 swimmers in the meet, most of the Auburn swimmers are simply looking for the experience and opportunity of swimming on such a large stage. There a few, though, that are looking to compete in the finals of their respective events. Here is a run-down of the Auburn men and women that you'll want to keep an eye on during tonight's events.
Monday morning started off with preliminaries in the men's 400 IM, women's 100 butterfly, men's 400 free, women's 400 IM, and men's 100 breaststroke. Auburn had a representative in each event, with 10 total swimmers competing. Current Auburn swimmer Olivia Scott was seeded 11th heading into the 100 fly and qualified for the semifinals, placing 16th at 59.87 seconds. The semifinals will be great exposure for the rising junior and should give her the confidence to succeed in her final two years at Auburn.
All Auburn swimmers performed well Monday, including rising junior Zane Grothe and former Tiger Robert Looney. Both swimmers placed 60 spots higher than their seeds in the 400 free. Grothe just missed the finals by placing 14th with a time of 3:52.82, which was just 0.01 seconds short of an Auburn long-course record. Grothe has already made quite the splash for Auburn and we would expect him to further drop his Auburn short-course record times and contend for some NCAA titles in the next two years.
The last event Monday morning was the men's 100 breast. Three former Tigers, Adam Klein (20), Mark Gangloff (2), and Eric Shanteau (4), swam in the two fastest heats. Gangloff and Shanteau each qualified for tonight's semifinals, placing third at 1:00.43 and fourth at 1:00.87, respectively. Gangloff earned a gold medal at the 2004 and '08 Olympics for his contributions in the preliminaries of the 4x100 medley relay. In 2004, he placed fourth in the 100m breast and 2008 he placed eighth in the same event. We would love see Gangloff qualify and achieve some individual success in London. He trains in Auburn and recently turned 30, so you can't help but cheer on the veteran. You also might remember Eric Shanteau because he was diagnosed with testicular cancer just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he competed before undergoing surgery. Shanteau beat his battle with cancer and has still managed to retain his world-class status. He has yet to medal at an Olympics, so hopefully 2012 will be his year.
Tonight's action begins at 7 p.m. The final three preliminary heats for each event were tape-delayed and will be shown along with the live action on NBC. Heat sheets and results can be found at USASwimming.org. You can also follow @AuburnSwimming for live updates via Twitter.