COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State Buckeye men’s swimmers, competing against the likes of Olympians Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Aaron Piersol and many more, put forth a terrific week of swimming at the just-concluded 2010 ConocoPhillips U.S. National Championships in Irvine, Calif.
So good was the week, in fact, that two Buckeyes – Elliott Keefer and Tim Phillips – will be staying in Irvine for the next two weeks training and competing as part of the United States national team that will compete at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships. The “Pan Pacs” meet is held every two years and features the top swimmers from four countries: the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan. The 2010 championships will be held Aug. 18-22 at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.
Keefer, the 2010 Big Ten Conference champion in the 100 breaststroke and a three-event All-American at this year’s NCAA championships, made the United States team with a third-place swim in the 200 breaststroke Saturday night. Keefer, who will be a senior this fall at Ohio State, posted the second-fastest 200 time by an American this year with his preliminary swim of 2:12.09. He is from Loveland, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
Phillips, Ohio State’s standout freshman last year who was All-American in four events and who swam the anchor leg on Ohio State’s 2010 Big Ten champion 200 freestyle relay, qualified in the 100 butterfly with a third-place effort Thursday in a race won by Phelps. Phillips, the Big Ten runner-up in the 100 fly this season and who is from Wheeling, W.Va., went 52.41 in the final.
“We were ecstatic when Elliott and Tim were named to the team at the conclusion of the meet,” Ohio State head coach Bill Wadley said. “This is the first time since the 1960s that Ohio State has placed two current swimmers on a United State national team at the same time.
“In fact, Ohio State is the only university with two swimmers on the U.S. team who are returning for the 2010-11 intercollegiate season.”
This is Big…Really Big Here’s how important the achievements of Keefer and Phillips are, according to Wadley: “They are both just one place away from the 2012 Olympic team. If they can improve just one place at the next Olympic Trials, they’ll make the United States Olympic Team for the 2012 London Olympics.”
A Relay Win, Too Wadley loves to emphasize the “team” mentality that is at the core of the Ohio State swimming success, and there’s no better example of this spirit than on the relays, where Ohio State excels. And led by its relays, Ohio State ended up fifth among the team competition at the U.S. nationals.
Ohio State’s 400 freestyle relay team of junior Lincoln Fahrbach, just-graduated Joel Elber, sophomore Zachery Holmes and Phillips took second Wednesday night.
And then on Friday the 800 freestyle relay team of Fahrbach, junior Stephen Sakaris, Holmes and Phillips won a national title with a winning time of 7:28.28.
“Obviously, our team loves the relays and we love to emphasize the team events,” Wadley said. “We get excited to race for each other and to race for our school. It has been a really special experience to compete at this level. To win a national relay championship is really exciting.”
Way Cool Wadley and most of the team returned to Columbus Sunday. Keefer and Phillips stayed in California to start their national team training.
“It’s unbelievable, and a historic moment, for Ohio State swimming,” Wadley said. “It is just the coolest thing to think these young men made the national team. And because they were the third-fastest collegians in their races, they’ll swim on relays at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China.”
It sounds as if this past week has been a cool thing for Wadley, too. And it should be cool. He’s had a terrific season, coaching the Buckeyes to the 2010 Big Ten championship, earning Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, a Top 10 finish at the NCAA championships and now a national champion relay team and two national team members.
Cool? How about, way cool!