The countdown to the U.S. Olympic trials continues for Anita Nall and the rest of the Baltimore area's swimming elite.
Nall, a Towson Catholic High sophomore and the American record-holder in the 200-meter breaststroke, is Baltimore's best bet in the trials on March 1-7 in Indianapolis.
The first two finishers in each event, plus four men and four women to round out freestyle relays, will make the team that will go to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
Nall, 15, qualified for the trials in the 100 breaststroke as well as the 200. She will make her bid in the 200 on March 2 and in the 100 on March 4.
Aside from Nall, who swims for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, the locals most likely to make the U.S. team are NBAC teammate Julie Gorman, Fallston's Julie Kole, now at Stanford, and Jill Johnson, a Dulaney High and Stanford grad who's training at Harvard.
Gorman qualified in the 100 and 200 butterfly and 200 individual medley, Kole in the 200 butterfly and 400 and 800 freestyle, and Johnson in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Nall's coach, NBAC's Murray Stephens, said she is "swimming well and has had some lifetime-best practices."
At an invitational meet last month at Rutgers, Nall was 0.2 seconds off her best time in the 100 breaststroke and swam the 200 breaststroke in 2 minutes, 28.3 seconds. She set the American record (2:27.08) and came within 0.37 of a
second of the world record in the U.S. Spring Nationals last April.
"I don't think anyone else has been close to that [2:28.3] lately," Stephens said. "Anita only has to step through the doorway. Others have to cross the room."
Stephens might be appointed to the Olympic coaching staff as an assistant if Nall and his other swimmers fare well. The assistants will be chosen based on a system of points awarded to coaches whose swimmers make the team.
The other coaches with the best chances of filling the remaining two openings on head coach Eddie Reese's staff are the University of Arizona's Frank Busch, University of Florida's Mitch Ivey, Stanford's Skip Kenney and Richard Quick, Peddie (N.J.) School's Chris Martin, Fort Lauderdale Swim Team's Jack Nelson, the Mission Viejo (Calif.) Nadadores' Terry Stoddard and the University of California's Nort Thornton.
Other swimmers with a current or former local connection who qualified for the trials include Mike Raley (NBAC), Brandy Wood (NBAC, University of Florida), Scott Conley (NBAC, University of Arizona), Mikey Flaherty (Knights of Columbus Orchards, Peddie School), Rob Ritter (Navy Juniors, Peddie School), Steve Mortimer (NBAC, University of Georgia) and Candie Johnson (Retrievers Aquatic Club).
Sid Burkot, who coaches UMBC as well as the Retrievers Aquatic Club, has four other swimmers who will try one last time to qualify for the trials at an invitational meet Sunday at Rutgers. They are Dan Van Hemert, Elysia Moreland, Cheryl White and Ingrid Kilpe.