Swimmers to try out for Olympic teams

Published: February 2, 2012, 2:33 am ET
Image courtesy of Craig Melvin
Senior Charlotte Brackett powers through the water in a meet in Buffalo, N.Y. in February 2011. Brackett will be traveling home to England over spring break with head coach Matt Barany to try out for the opportunity to swim for England in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Collegian Reporter

Three University of Richmond swimmers will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Trials, one for Great Britain during spring break and two for the United States.

Senior Charlotte Brackett, sophomore Amalia “Mali” Kobelja and junior Lauren Hines will contend for spots in the Olympics, Brackett for one on the British team and Kobelja and Hines for ones on the American team.

Brackett, an English native, said she would compete on March 3 when she returned to England with Matt Barany, head women’s swim coach.

Although Brackett must begin preparing for her chance at being on her country’s Olympic team, Kobelja and Hines will not have to compete for their spots until this summer when the United States conducts its trials in Omaha, Neb.

“I definitely have wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a little girl,” Kobelja said. “It’s been one of my main goals.”

Hines said she also looked forward to competing.

“I’m really excited for trials this summer, but I’m focused on the conference championship at this point,” she said.

Brackett said she had never thought about trying out for the Olympics until her mother and her high school coach mentioned it during summer 2011.

“I’m mostly excited, because I haven’t been to England in a year and a half and I get to see my family and friends,” Brackett said. “And I get to swim in the Olympic pool.”

Brackett, who will swim the 50-meter freestyle at the Great Britain 2012 Summer Olympic Trials in March, said she had not been aware of the English cut times to qualify for the Olympic Trials until much later than her American competitors.

“Over here they knew what the cut times were, the cut times are put out a lot earlier but in England they weren’t put out until September, so I had to swim blindly for my race and hope I made the cut,” she said.

Barany said although the British trials were used to select its Olympic team, the meet was open to international competitors.

Along with competitors of British nationality, Brackett will compete against international competitors vying for a chance to swim on the British team, he said.

“It’s a great individual opportunity for Charlotte and further a great opportunity for our program to get exposure for recruiting purposes in England,” he said.

Barany said although Brackett was an introvert, she was an expressive, talented swimmer.

“Her personality is that she’s quiet and she is very internally focused,” he said. “She is in tune with how her body feels and she is more outwardly expressive in her swimming, will go fast to express how she feels.

“I think it has taken a couple of years to understand where she hides her fire, and for the most part she understands our training and to her credit she’s taken the time to learn about her body and learn how to go fast its been an easy learning period.”

Brackett’s teammate, Jill Smaniotto said that outside the pool Brackett was quiet, but goofy. Smaniotto said while Brackett had always been fast, she had developed her speed over time.

“She came in pretty much this fast, she’s improved; her 200 has gotten a lot better,” she said.

Barany said the team had won nine Atlantic 10 championships and since 2004 had sent six swimmers, including these three women, to compete at the Olympic trials.

This version corrects that the team has won nine Atlantic 10 championships, not nine NCAA championships. The photographer byline has also been corrected to say courtesy of Craig Melvin.

Contact reporter Amanda Minnitte at amanda.minnitte@richmond.edu

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