Splash - May/June 2012 - (Page 28)
DonaLD miRaLLe/Getty imaGes
tHirD IS NO ChARM
HAYlEY McGREGoRY (lEFt) AFtER HER tHiRD plAcE FiNisH iN tHE 100M bAcKstRoKE At tHE 2008 olYMpic tRiAls.
Just Missing the Team Comes With a Sting
by Mike Gustafson
there’s third place, and then there’s “trials third.” “Trials Third” means you just missed the Olympic roster by one place. It’s an agonizing, heart-breaking finish. First or second place? You’re an Olympian. But third? You’re going home. It’s the crux of the Olympic Trials. Someone has to lose. We caught up with three swimmers who have had vastly different experiences with “Trials Third.”
ayley McGregory Mortimer knows more about Trials Third than perhaps any other American swimmer. She finished third place on four separate occasions – in both backstrokes at the 2004 & 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Meanwhile, Eric Shanteau finished third twice in 2004, then went on to qualify for the Olympics in 2008 while diagnosed with testicular cancer. Finally, there’s Dan Harrigan, a 1976 third-place finisher who won an Olympic bronze medal behind his U.S. teammates in the 200m backstroke. (In 1976, countries could send three athletes per individual event.) What was your reaction when you saw third place on the scoreboard?
HAYlEY: In 2004 it was pretty hard. But I was young and had much to look forward to in my swimming career. I was entering my freshman year in college. It wasn’t as hard to deal with. But in 2008, the 100 backstroke was first [before the 200]. I
was having a pretty incredible season up to that point. In prelims, to break the world record and then semi-finals, coming close to that, and finals, just touching third – that was the hardest one I experienced. I really believed one of those two Olympic spots were mine. That was the best swim I had in that moment in my life, but I felt like I had disappointed all the people who had supported me in my career.
ERic: In 2004, I placed third in the 200 and 400 IM. In the 400 IM, it was hard, but it wasn’t my best chance at making the team. I had dropped 5 seconds off my best time just to get third. It was hard, but at the same time, it got me excited for the 200 IM. That was a couple days later. I thought that was my better shot at making my team. Then getting another third in the 200 IM was brutal. I still look back and see that as one of the hardest things I’ve had to overcome in my career, but at the same time, you use it as a motivating factor to stay hungry, and continue to train and swim at a higher level.
splAsH • May/June 2012 • The TRIALS ISSue
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Splash - May/June 2012
Splash - May/June 2012
Swim Briefs/Justin Case
Top Ten Tweets/Point-Counterpoint
Keys to Success
Olympic Trials Preview
Rank & File
Third Is No Charm
Behind the Scenes
Making the Team
Swim Nut Zeke
Ultimate Pump-Up Song
Best Race Ever
America’s Swim Team Athletes
Splash - May/June 2012