OMAHA, Neb. Micah Lawrence earned her plane ticket to London Saturday night, finishing second in the 200 womens breaststroke to become the sixth swimmer with North Carolina connections to make the U.S. Olympic team.
Im shocked, said Lawrence, who also became the third 2012 Olympian from Charlottes SwimMAC Carolina squad. Ive had this dream since I was very little.
Lawrence, 21, is from Pflugerville, Texas, and attends Auburn on a swimming scholarship. But she took the most recent academic year off to train full-time in Charlotte under SwimMAC coach David Marsh. Lawrence has a year of eligibility remaining at Auburn, where she is studying to be a graphic designer.
Micah has really blossomed since shes gotten here, said Nick Thoman, another SwimMAC Olympian. When she first got here she was shy, awkward and a great swimmer. Now shes bright, bubbly and an even better swimmer.
Said Marsh: Micah has one of the best kicks in the sport. And since she got here, she has really gotten stronger.
When she was a young girl, Lawrence said that Olympic gold medalist Josh Davis visited her church in Texas and she and the other children there got to touch one of his gold medals. I wanted to be an Olympian ever since, she said.
Rebecca Soni the girlfriend of Charlotte Olympian Ricky Berens won the race in 2:21.13, the fastest time in the world this year. Like Berens, Soni has qualified for two Olympic events.
Lawrences personal-best time of 2:23.03 made her the third-fastest swimmer in the event in 2012, behind Soni and a Japanese swimmer.
There could be a seventh N.C. Olympian Sunday. Josh Schneider tied for the second-fastest time in the mens 50 freestyle semifinal Saturday night. The final is Sunday. He will square off against teammate Cullen Jones, who already has made the squad, in that race.
Schneider had a personal-best time of 21.81 seconds in his heat. I did what I know I can do, Schneider said, and now I have to do it again. Jones had the fifth-fastest qualifying time.
Or, if its not Schneider, the seventh N.C. Olympian could come from the mens 100 butterfly final Sunday night.
Only two swimmers make that event, and Michael Phelps is the prohibitive favorite to win. But three SwimMAC teammates Davis Tarwater, Eugene Godsoe and Tim Phillips have qualified for the eight-man final and will be in the running for the second spot.
Tarwater, 28, has had two near-misses at these trials while trying to make his first Olympic team. I have one more shot at a dream, he said.
• In another riveting race, the Phelps-Ryan Lochte duel continued in the 200 individual medley. Swimming the two fastest times in the world for 2012 in the event, Phelps edged Lochte by 0.09 seconds. Both will swim the event again in London and each seem destined to each win multiple medals there.
• SwimMACs Madison Kennedy finished eighth in the womens 100 freestyle final. She led at the halfway point of the race in which the top six finishers qualify for the Olympics but was then passed by every swimmer in the second 50. Jessica Hardy won the race and 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin finished sixth in her final shot, grabbing a spot in her last chance to make the Olympic team.
Kennedys better event is the 50 freestyle, which has a Monday final.
• Two 15-year-olds from N.C. have had a great meet and made a strong mark in the womens 200 backstroke, both making the semifinals. Hannah Moore of The Raleigh Swim Association finished 11th she had been seeded No.109. Kathleen Baker of SwimMAC finished 13th. Missy Franklin won the race and Elizabeth Beisel finished second to qualify for London.
• Thoman finished third in the 200 mens backstroke to just miss making the team in a second event. He has already qualified in the 100 backstroke. Honestly, the right guys won, said Thoman, referring to Ryan Lochte (first) and Tyler Clary (second).
• Nick Brunelli of SwimMAC did not advance to the eight-man final in the mens 50, finishing 11th. The 30-year-old said his Olympic aspirations are finished but he and his wife are expecting twins boys in October.