Increasing like a geometric sequence, BYU’s swim and dive team now numbers more than a handful of Olympic hopefuls of previous years.
Eight of the 10 hopefuls with Cougar connections leave this Friday for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 through July 3.
On the opening day, recently-graduated Cougar Hayden Palmer (400 individual medley) and current BYU swimmers Ellie Thornbrue (100 fly) and Steven Richards (100 breast) begin the competition.
On Monday, five-time All-American Jake Taylor and Preston Jenkins compete in the 100 backstroke. Both also swam the Olympic Trial qualifying time for the 200 backstroke, and this is the second time Jenkins has competed in the Trials.
In the freestyle where BYU school record holder and All-American Payton Sorenson competes in the 50 and 100 events, odds increase beyond the top-two finishers making the U.S. Olympic team. The next four placers in those events will make up the U.S.A. freestyle relay, plus two alternates.
“Some of our swimmers have better chances of making the Olympic team, but each of them hope to improve and gain from the experience,” BYU coach John Brooks said.
Sophomore-to-be Connor Stirling (50 free) has a busy July, entering the Missionary Training Center after the Trials on July 5, for an LDS mission to Puebla, Mexico.
Incoming BYU freshman Mariah Lindsay will be competing in the 100 breaststroke.
Preliminary racers can advance to a 16-person semifinal, then an eight-person final. The top-two finishers in each event make the 40-man Olympic team from the field of 1,500 swimmers and divers competing next week in Nebraska.
NBC Sports will live stream the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. Those making the Olympic team move on to swim in San Antonio, Texas, for a training camp.
Senior long-distance swimmer Dallin Johnson got his experience earlier this year at the U.S. Open Water Nationals in Florida, so will not be competing in Omaha.
Former BYU swimmer Rafael Alfaro (200 IM) made the El Salvador Olympic team for the second time and will be competing at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5-21.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.