July 2, 2012
Andrew Gemmell and Kara Lynn Joyce, both of whom have connections to the Georgia swimming program, also earned spots in the London Games on the final night of the United States Olympic Trials at CenturyLink Center.
Gemmell, a rising junior for the Bulldogs, won the men's 1,500-meter freestyle on Monday. Joyce, a former Lady Bulldog, qualified for her third Olympiad by coming in second in the women's 50-meter freestyle. Following the Trials, there are five swimmers with ties to Georgia who will be on Team USA in London July 28-Aug. 4.
"This was an incredible night, and it caps what has been an awesome week for Georgia swimming," Coach Jack Bauerle said. "You always hope for one or two Americans, but we've gotten a total of five into the Olympics. And it means so much that we've got current people and past people. We could not be happier for Andrew and Kara Lynn. He is such a hard worker and he's one of the nicest young men you'd ever meet. He really deserves this. And what can I say about Kara? She's been an incredible competitor her entire career, and she just keeps going and going. I'll never forget that look on her face at the end of the race tonight."
Gemmell stopped the clock in 14:52.19, the fourth-best time in the world this season. Earlier this year, Gemmell won the 10-kilometer title at the Open Water National Championships. In 2011, Gemmell was the fastest American and helped the 5-kilometer team win the gold medal at the World Championships.
"I just wanted to treat it like open water, and I knew I had to swim my own race," Gemmell said. "I knew people would be going out faster than me, and I would have to race coming home. I wanted to try and race and stay as close as I could and get my hand to the wall first. I'm definitely stronger in the back half of the race. I don't have as much speed at the start, so I know I have to be stronger coming home."
Joyce touched in 24.73, grabbing second place by just 5/100ths of a second. Joyce was an Olympian in 2004 and 2008, earning four silver medals on the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley relays. She was an 18-time NCAA champion during her career with the Lady Bulldogs (2005-08).
"I had no idea what happened (at the finish)," Joyce said. "I looked at the board and couldn't tell if it was a two or a seven. It's an amazing feeling. I didn't start out the meet very well. I did my best to visualize and prepare my body. It was my one chance to lay it all the line for this 50. I can't believe I did it."
Allison Schmitt, a rising senior, will be one of the leaders of Team USA. Schmitt won the 200- and 400-meter freestyle races at the Trials and also will swim on the 400- and 800-meter freestyle relays. She won a bronze medal at the 2008 Games as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay. Shannon Vreeland, a rising junior, made the U.S. team as an alternate in the 800-meter freestyle relay. Former Lady Bulldog Amanda Weir earned a spot as an alternate for the 400-meter freestyle relay. Weir picked up two silver medals at the 2004 Games on the 400-meter freestyle and medley relays. Bauerle likely will travel to London to help coach the Georgia swimmers on Team USA.
In addition, Georgia swimming will be represented by former Lady Bulldogs Wendy Trott (South Africa) and Sarah Poewe (Germany), former Bulldog Troy Prinsloo (South Africa) and signees Brittany MacLean (Canada), Matias Koski (Finland), Yousef Alaskari (Kuwait) and Ediz Yildirimer (Turkey) in London. Poewe will be making her fourth appearance at the Olympics, earning a bronze medal on the 400-meter medley relay in 2004. Trott, Prinsloo and Yildirimer will be returning to a second straight Olympiad.
Last month, former Bulldog Chris Colwill qualified for Team USA in diving as he won the 3-meter springboard title. Dan Laak, Georgia's diving coach and Colwill's personal coach, will accompany Colwill to London as an assistant coach. The Olympic diving competition will take place Aug. 6-7.