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Charlotte swimmers excel at Phillips 66 National Championships

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/10/21/39/1cMFjf.Em.138.jpeg|167
    Mark J. Terrill - AP
    Tyler Clary swims the butterlfy during the men's 400 meter individual medley at the U.S. nationals of swimming, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Irvine, Calif. Clary won the event.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/10/21/39/q0tx.Em.138.jpeg|215
    Mark J. Terrill - AP
    Cammile Adams gets ready for the women's 200 meter butterfly final at the U.S. nationals of swimming, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Irvine, Calif.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/10/21/40/t5W56.Em.138.jpeg|196
    Mark J. Terrill - AP
    Micah Lawrence swims in the women's 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. national championships Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Irvine, Calif. Lawrence tied to win with Jessica Hardy.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/10/21/40/q7Pri.Em.138.jpeg|228
    Harry How - Getty Images
    Ryan Lochte swims to third place in the Men's 200 Meter Backstroke Final during the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships at the Woollett Aquatic Center on August 7, 2014 in Irvine, California. Lochte finished in third place.

It’s not too soon to start wondering just how many medals Charlotte swimmers will win in Rio in 2016.

With its growing roster of post-grads and professionals, SwimMAC’s Team Elite has long been expected to produce Olympic qualifiers.

But after a dominating performance at the Phillips 66 National Championships, the club is poised to become the backbone of the United States national team.

Going into Sunday night’s finals, SwimMAC had qualified seven swimmers for this month’s Pan Pacific championships, an important step toward the Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Plenty can happen before 2016.

SwimMAC coach David Marsh says his team’s focus will be on getting faster.

“We didn’t set this up just to make the Olympic team,” Marsh said. “Our goal is to win medals for the United States.”

The club sent 29 swimmers to the five-day meet in Irvine Calif., and was expected to win the team points title.

SwimMAC Pan Pac qualifiers spanned age and experience.

Its youngest, 17-year-old Kathleen Baker, won second place in the 200-meter backstroke behind Missy Franklin. At 30, Oympian Ryan Lochte turned in a workmanlike performance but erased doubts about a lingering knee injury.

A quick look at top qualifiers:

Tyler Clary: Clary, the London gold medalist in the 200 backstroke, placed second in the event at Irvine. He also won the 200 butterfly and the 400 individual medley and was a top entry for Sunday night’s 200 individual medley. Clary, who moved from the University of Michigan to join Marsh earlier this year, turned in one of the best meets of his career.

Micah Lawrence: The specialist won the 200 breaststroke and tied for first with Jessica Hardy in the 100 breast. Lawrence tied for second in the 50 breaststroke, showing improved sprinting power.

Ryan Lochte: Lochte earned a Pan Pac berth in the 100 freestyle and placed third in the 200 backstroke. He’s a finalist in the 100 butterfly and a top seed for Sunday’s 200 individual medley, along with training partner Clary.

Kathleen Baker: A rising home-schooled senior, Baker earned her first national team berth in the 200 backstroke and likely will be among the nation’s top college recruits.

Cammile Adams: Adams, from Texas A&M, easily led the women’s 200 butterfly field, winning by more than one second.

Nick Thoman: Thoman earned a Pan Pac spot when he placed third in the 100 backstroke after a relatively brief time to train following a shoulder injury earlier this year.

Tim Phillips: Phillips finished third in the 100 fly, behind second-place Michael Phelps.

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