Charlotte's SwimMAC Carolina set its own personal record Thursday in Omaha, Neb., by qualifying three more swimmers for the U.S. Olympic team on a night when N.C. State swimmer Ryan Held pulled off a major upset to earn a ticket to Rio as well.
Cammile Adams, Anthony Ervin and Jimmy Feigen all made the 2016 Olympic squad representing SwimMAC Thursday night -- Adams by winning the 200 butterfly and Ervin and Feigen by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100 freestyle to qualify for a relay spot.
The three swimmers from SwimMAC gave the club's Team Elite six U.S. Olympians for the meet (they joined Kathleen Baker, Katie Meili and Ryan Lochte). The 2012 SwimMAC team had set the club's previous record with five U.S. Olympians. There are three days left in the Trials, and swimmers like Tyler Clary, Madison Kennedy and Cullen Jones have not made the U.S. team yet but still have a chance to add to the total.
Held, 20, grabbed a relay spot in the 4x100 freestyle by finishing third. The N.C. State standout's ascent in these Olympic Trials has been remarkable. Held was a top swimmer in the 2016 NCAA meet at the end of his sophomore season, made All-American and was part of the 400-meter relay team that won a national championship for the Wolfpack.
But Held, who is from Illinois, did not finish in the top three in any NCAA individual event. And the Olympic Trials sport a much more difficult field because of all the post-graduate swimmers.
Although he was only seeded 15th in the 100 freestyle, Held ended up beating everyone but Nathan Adrian (who won the same event in the 2012 Olympics) and Caeleb Dressel.
Said former Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines on NBC's live swim coverage about Held's rise to an Olympic spot: "The no-name comes out of nowhere to get in there!"
Ervin and Feigen also made the Olympic team in that same race. At age 35, Ervin becomes a three-time Olympian. He actually led the race at the halfway mark before finishing fourth. That early speed bodes well for Ervin's chances in the 50 freestyle, which begins Friday. Feigen, who like Ervin moved to Charlotte to work with Team Elite head coach David Marsh, finished fifth.
Of the four swimmers with North Carolina connections who made the U.S. team Thursday, Adams was the only one who qualified in an individual event. Originally from Texas, Adams has been America's best in the 200 butterfly all year and made the U.S. Olympic team in the same event in 2012. But she had a major scare Wednesday in the preliminaries after she was originally disqualified for being on her back instead of her stomach coming off the race's last turn.
A video review overturned the DQ, but not before Adams had "a lot of panic," as she said. Adams then won the event final Thursday night in a time of 2:06.80.
On Friday, SwimMAC Carolina may add more events to its Rio agenda. Ryan Lochte -- who has made a relay squad in these Trials but has yet to qualify for an individual event -- had the best semifinal time in the 200 individual medley, just ahead of longtime rival Michael Phelps. The two will swim side by side on Friday in that event.
And Clary had the third-best semifinal time in the men's 200 backstroke, the event in which he won an Olympic gold medal in 2012. He will need to finish in the top two in the final in what will be his last chance at these Trials to make the U.S. team.