Five local swimmers who are members of the UMBC Retriever Aquatics Club take off today for a week of competition at the U.S. Senior National Swim Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
They have some lofty, but obtainable, goals in mind.
"We'd like to score a couple of top-eight finishes and make a couple of Olympic Trials cuts," said Sid Burkott, the Retriever coach. "This is the largest group we've ever taken to seniors in individual events."
For a 5-year-old swim club those are indeed lofty goals, but the Retrievers already have come a long way in a short time.
FOR THE RECORD - A story in Sunday's edition misspelled the name of Elysia Moreland, one of five local swimmers competing this week in the senior national competition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Her time in the 200-meter butterfly, 2:17.55, also was listed incorrectly. We regret the errors.
Cheryl White, Megan Malchak, Ingrid Kilpe, Alisha Moreland and Dan van Hemert are the local swimmers who will carry the Retriever banner into the annual August rite for the nation's top swimmers.
White, 17, leads the pack, having qualified in four events, including the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 200 freestyle and 400 individual medley. All senior national distances are measured in meters.
The Mount Hebron senior hopes to qualify for next March's Olympic Trials in Indianapolis in both the 200 backstroke and 200 freestyle. Her top 200 free time is 1 minute, 49.44 seconds, and the Olympic Trials qualifying time is 1:48.29.
Unfortunately, a bout with chickenpox in late July kept her outof the water for 1 1/2 weeks -- a bad break that could hurt her senior national results.
White is being recruited heavily by the University of Tennessee, with Texas, Florida, Arizona and Georgia also showing interest.
"The Tennessee coach visited me and said I was one of their top recruits," White said. "And I have a lot of correspondence with other schools."
Van Hemert, 17, qualified for three seniornational events, including the 800 free, 200 butterfly and 400 free.
The Glenelg High senior's goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 200 fly and 400 free and to make the top eight in both events.
His best time in the 400 free, 3:59.89, is just one second offthe Olympic Trials qualifying time. And his best 200 fly time, 2:03.50, is just four-tenths of a second from qualifying.
"I think I need to drop one or two seconds off my best 200-fly time to finish in the top eight, and three seconds off my best 400-free time," van Hemert said.
He set both those times at the U.S. Olympic Festival last month in Minnesota where he finished fifth in both events.
He alsofinished third in the 100 fly in 56.62 seconds.
"I swam much faster times at the Olympic Festival than I thought I would," van Hemert said.
The 800 free is not an Olympic event, although it may be vanHemert's best event.
He is being recruited by the University of Florida, which sent a recruiting coach to his house on Wednesday.
Megan Malchak, 18, doesn't have to worry about recruiters anymore. Shealready swims for the team at University of Maryland at Baltimore County, as well as the Retrievers club team.
The Hammond High graduate, who compiled a perfect 4.0 grade-point average at Hammond, will swim on the 400 medley relay team at seniors.
Ingrid Kilpe, 16, will swim the 100 back and 200 back. Her best times are 57.62 in the 100and 2:02.95 in the 200.
The Centennial High student missed a yearwith a shoulder injury two years ago but hopes for top-eight comeback finishes.
Alisha Moreland, 15, will swim the 200 fly and 400 IM at seniors.
The Howard High School sophomore is coming off an impressive junior nationals last week where she set four personal bests.
Her sensational time of 2:20.00 in the 200 fly was good enough to make her a member of the U. S. National Junior Team that will train in Colorado Springs, Colo., in November. That team then will compete internationally in January or February.
The exact date and locationis not set.
Her 200 fly time was a half-second off the Olympic Trials qualifying time.
"Only a handful of swimmers in the country can do that time," Burkott said.
She also will swim the 400 individual medley at senior nationals.
Her other personal bests at juniornationals included: 4:24.00 in the 400 free, her best by eight seconds; 2:08.00 in the 200 free, her best by two seconds; 1:03.47 in the 100 fly which was good for second place. She missed qualifying for seniors in the 100 fly by less than two-tenths of a second.
One other member of the Retrievers, Candace Johnson of Westminster, will alsoswim at seniors in the 50 free and 100 free. She already has qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 50 free with a time of 26.61.