Former Auburn swimmer Eric Shanteau will represent the United States in his second Olympic Games after his runner-up finish in the 100-meter breaststroke final Tuesday night at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
In addition, rising Auburn senior Kyle Owens will compete for a trip to London of his own as he qualified for the final in the 100m backstroke in front of more than 12,000 fans at the CenturyLink Center.
Shanteau, a 2006 Auburn graduate who currently trains at the University of Southern California, clocked a time of 1:00.15 to finish comfortably in second place in the event, securing a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team for the London Games. He was a little more than a half-second behind event winner Brendan Hansen, who will compete in his third Olympics after a winning time of 59.68.
"It's a great feeling," Shanteau said. "I have a hard time describing it. "Most people probably doubted me to make that event, and to be honest, I had to look twice to make sure that ‘2' was next to my name."
Former Tiger Mark Gangloff, a gold medalist in the 4x100 medley relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, missed out on a return trip to the Games with a fifth-place finish in a time of 1:00.74. Gangloff will have one more chance at a trip to London later in the week as he – as well as Shanteau - will compete in the 200 breaststroke.
"It's great for Eric, he's always going to be a representative of Auburn University no matter where he swims," Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. "We're obviously very proud of him. But I'm so disappointed for Mark. He's a great champion and has given so much back to our program. I know he's going to land on his feet, he's a great person and a great representative of Auburn University."
Meanwhile, Owens became the first current Auburn swimmer to earn his way into an event final so far at this year's Trials. His time of 54.18 in the 100 back semifinals was a lifetime-best and the second-fastest long-course 100 back in Auburn history. He will face a loaded field in the final, led by top qualifier Matt Grevers, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist.
"It feels great," Owens said. "Four years ago, I think I was something like 90th, and I'm going into tomorrow seventh. I was looking at my video from prelims, and my turn was really slow. I just tried to speed that up tonight, and that helped me shave a couple of tenths."
Fall 2011 graduate Kohlton Norys recorded a lifetime-best 55.07 to finish 12th overall in the semifinal, and spring graduate Max Murphy shaved a couple of hundredths off his morning time, clocking a 55.34 to take 14th overall.
"I think the team raced tough today," Hawke said. "It's obviously a very close competition. We've got to find a way to keep moving up the rankings. Great night for our backstrokers. Kyle got a best time to make the final, Kohlton Norys had a best time and really set himself up for his freestyle later in the week."
In other evening action, former Auburn women's swimmer Micah Lawrence qualified for the final of the 100 breaststroke with a 1:08.36, the sixth-fastest time in the semifinals.
The third day of competition gets underway at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the CenturyLink Center. It will be a relatively light day for the Tigers as only six swimmers with Auburn ties are slated to swim in the morning's preliminaries. Heats in the women's 200 free, men's 200 fly and women's 200 IM will take place. Live timing and live video for all heats containing Auburn swimmers will be available through USASwimming.org.
Auburn Swimming & Diving
2012 U.S. Olympic Trials – Day 2 Finals
June 26, 2012
CenturyLink Center – Omaha, Neb.
Women's 100 Breaststroke – Semifinal
6. Micah Lawrence – 1:07.39 (advances to final)
Men's 100 Breaststroke – Final
2. Eric Shanteau – 1:00.15 (qualifies for Olympics)
5. Mark Gangloff – 1:00.74
Men's 100 Backstroke – Semifinal
7. Kyle Owens – 54.18 (advances to final)
12. Kohlton Norys – 55.07
14. Max Murphy – 55.34