The U.S. Naval Academy has three tenets: Brotherhood. Tradition. Excellence.
Midshipmen swimmers Garrett McGovern and Luke Johnson finished the first night of Wave I Olympic Trials – Swimming exemplifying all three of those principles as they went 1-2 in the 800 freestyle, respectively, to set anchor in Omaha for another week.
The duo moved on to compete in next weekend’s Wave II Olympic Trials.
“We definitely wanted to go 1-2, and to make it happen is definitely special,” said McGovern, 18, who won the last event of Friday night’s competition in 8:11.25. Johnson was a close second in 8:12.13 as the two were neck-and-neck from start to finish.
Two teenagers started the evening off in the women’s 100 freestyle as Camille Spink, 16, and Kristine Paegle, 17, went 1-2 to advance to next weekend’s meet.
Spink came into the evening with the fastest qualifying time from Friday morning’s prelims and led from start to finish, winning in a personal-best 55.25. Paegle was second in 55.91, also a personal best.
“Oh my God. This has been a dream for such a long time,” Spink said. “Seeing it play out – I’m just so happy.”
In the men’s 100 free, two more teenagers finished in the top two to advance to Wave II competition.
Patrick Sammon, 17, edged 19-year-old Luke Miller 49.94-50.05 to win the evening final.
“Right at the wall, I had nothing left; my legs were so dead,” Sammon said. “Coming into Omaha, one of my goals was to break 50 seconds, so I’m excited about that.”
In the women’s 200 butterfly, Katie Trace roared back over the final 50 meters to win in 2:12.57, two seconds faster than she was in the morning, to edge Emma Sticklen by. 01. Sticklen finished in a personal best 2:12.58 to move forward to Wave II.
“Having experience from 5 years ago with the big lights and big pool really helped tonight,” said Trace, the only non-teenager and competitor with previous Trials experience in the final.
Carl Bloebaum, 17, came on strong over the final 50 meters to win the 200 fly and advance to next weekend’s meet.
He edged Colby Mefford 1:58.90-1:59.63, who finished second and will join older brother, Bryce, in next weekend’s Wave II competition.
“I knew it was going to be hard, but all the fly training I put in really paid off,” Bloebaum said.
In the final two sprints of the evening – the men’s and women’s 100 backstrokes – Autumn Haebig and Jacob Steele won to move into next weekend’s meet.
Haebig, a Big Ten Champion for the University of Nebraska this year in the 200 freestyle and the school’s 100 back record holder, edged Kobie Melton 1:01.23-1.01.89. Both swam personal-best times to advance.
Fellow Big Ten swimmer Steele, who swam for Indiana, went 55.23 to edge Nate Stoffle (55.28) to finish 1-2 in the men’s race.
In another battle of teenagers, Hayden Miller, 16, swam a personal best by almost 5 seconds to win the 800 freestyle and gain a chance to swim against Katie Ledecky next weekend in Wave II. Miller beat 18-year-old Abigail McCulloh 8:39.81-8:42.17.
“I’m so excited especially with COVID,” Miller said. “It was hard to keep motivated, but this is a great atmosphere to swim fast. I couldn’t have done it without Abby pushing me all the way.”
Saturday’s event lineup begins at 10 a.m. (CDT) with preliminary swims in the men’s and women’s 200 freestyle followed by the 100 breaststroke and concluding with the 400 individual medley.
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