June 26, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. - Eight years after competing in her first Olympics in Athens, California alumna Dana Vollmer clinched a trip to the London Games when she won the 100-meter butterfly final at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Center. Vollmer posted a time of 56.50, while fellow Golden Bear alum Natalie Coughlin clocked a time of 58.66 to finish seventh.
Vollmer - the 2011 world champion in the 100-meter butterfly - set an American record of 56.42 in Tuesday's semifinal. The Granbury, Texas, product currently holds the two fastest times (56.42 and 56.50) in the world in the 100 fly.
Coughlin made news for a second time tonight when she qualified for Wednesday's 100-meter backstroke final by posting the seventh-fastest time (1:00.63) in the 100-backstroke semifinals. A pair of incoming Cal freshmen - Rachel Bootsma (2nd in the semi in 59.10) and Elizabeth Pelton (4th, 1:00.31) - also qualified for tomorrow's backstroke final. Cindy Tran - Cal's two-time NCAA 100-yard backstroke champion - finished 12th in the semi (1:01.21) and out of final contention.
Former Bear Jessica Hardy - the world record-holder in the 100-meter breaststroke - qualified for Wednesday's final in her signature event by clocking the second-fastest semifinal time (1:06.88).
The number of Bears who have now officially qualified for London is five: Vollmer, Stephanie Au (Hong Kong), Hannah Wilson (Hong Kong), Sara Isakovic (Slovenia) and Lauren Boyle (New Zealand). Four of those five - not including Au, who will be a junior next season - are alumnae.
Caitlin Leverenz, who will be a senior in the fall, will likely be added to the U.S. team after taking second place in the 400-meter individual medley yesterday, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events. Second-place finishers have - so far - always made the U.S. Olympic swim team, according to USA Swimming.
Those four alumnae - Vollmer, Wilson, Isakovic and Boyle - were part of an all-star team in 2009, when the Bears won their first NCAA championship. That squad featured other talented Bears including current U.S. Olympic hopefuls Liv Jensen, Shelley Harper, Amanda Sims, Madison Kennedy and Erica Dagg.
The Olympic Trials continue Wednesday morning with the women's 200 freestyle, men's 200 butterfly and women's 200 IM preliminary heats.