Alexander, McClellan savor first swim trials

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Ken Veloskey
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bridgette Alexander of Milton can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next, and Whitewater J-Hawks Aquatic Club teammate Emily McClellan of Delavan knows there is a lot of work to do.

Alexander, 16, and McClellan, 20, each shared their first experience at the U.S. Olympic team swimming trials in Omaha, Neb. the last week of June.

McClellan finished sixth overall in the 100 breaststroke and 24th out of 118 in the 200 breast preliminary. Alexander was 57th out of 162 in the 100 backstroke preliminary and 51st out of 186 in the 200 back preliminary.

For both, the U.S. Olympic trials were an eye-opener and a reason to believe a return trip to the trials and possibly beyond is in their futures.

Swimming for the Whitewater J-Hawks Aquatic Club, the pair befitted from the careful direction of Cherie Zimdars.

“We had a plan this summer and we kept to it,” Zimdars said. “We met with them and decided their training, and they qualified for the trials swimming for us.”

Alexander, a WIAA state swim champ for in the 200 individual medley for Milton High last fall, left Omaha with a new perspective after competing among the U.S. elite swimmers.

“It was definitely a big learning experience for me,” Alexander said. “I took in as much as I could.’’

Next stop for Alexander is the US Junior and Senior nationals in August at Indianapolis.

“I’m still going to be nervous,” Alexander said. “But hopefully after the Olympic trials, it will give me an edge.’’

Alexander has four years to catch up with Missy Franklin, 17, who won both 100 and 200 backstrokes, posting an American record 58.85 seconds in the 100 back and a 2:08.35 in the 200. Alexander swam a 1:03.49 in the 100 and a 2:16.30 in the 200.

“I didn’t swim with (Franklin), but I got to see her stretch and warm up,” Alexander said. “I don’t want to copy her, but she has very good starts and underwater technique. She is so tall.’’

Alexander will count on Zimdars to provide her with the training to get closer to Franklin’s times.

“She never says what’s next,” Alexander said. “She just makes you work extra hard. She never tells, but you can tell she is planning something.’’

For McClellan, 1.43 seconds stood between her sixth-place finish and second place which would have given her a U.S. Olympic swim team berth in the 100 breaststroke.

McClellan notched a career-best 1:07.41. Rebecca Soni posted a 1:05.99 for second place to win an Olympic berth along with winner Breeja Larson, a 20-year-old sophomore at Texas A&M, whose time was 1:05.92.

McClellan is back in the pool working for August’s U.S. nationals with Zimdars. McClellan said 1:05 or 1:06 times in the 100 breaststroke comes with hard work.

“Maybe it will come with 10 extra pushups or with extra time in the weight room,” McClellan said. “It’s the extra mile of work you put into it.’’

McClellan said her experience in Omaha was a blur with the roaring crowds and the excitement of stepping to the blocks for each race.

With McClellan, one thing is for sure; she knows she can compete with the elite U.S. swimmers.

“I just know I have it in me to race with all those girls,” McClellan said. “I gave it my all.’’

Last updated: 4:59 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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