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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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June 24, 2008 12:00 PM

Seattle area swim talent: Deep, wide and growing

Posted by Ron Judd

Reading about Bremerton native Nathan Adrian's recent exploits in the 50 meters in Omaha whets the appetite for what's sure to be a hot Olympic Trials season for Seattle-area swimmers.

Since Megan (Quann) Jendrick put Puget Sound back on the Olympic swimming medal map with that memorable, double-gold performance at Sydney in 2000, a steady stream of top performers with local ties have risen from the fray. More than 30 area swimmers, in fact, have times fast enough to earn entrance to the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, which begin Sunday in Omaha.

Among those, a handful rise as strong contenders to not only make the Beijing Olympic team, but chase medals there:

-- Jendrick, 24, of Puyallup, who missed the 2004 Athens team literally by a finger's length as she was out-touched by Amanda Beard and Tara Kirk at the last Olympic swim trials in Long Beach, is back with a vengeance this year, quietly shadowing the top-time swimmers in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and planning a sneak attack, of sorts, at the swim trials. Jendrick is a force to be contended with in the 100, but her best shot at the Olympics might come in the 200, a race in which her times have steadily fallen in the past two years.

-- Tara Kirk, 25, of Bremerton, a silver medalist in the 400 medley relay in Athens, remains a stalwart in the 100 breaststroke, and should contend for another Olympic spot.

-- Ariana Kukors, 19, of the University of Washington, an individual-medley specialist, has a strong shot at the team in the 400. Her sister Emily is a butterfly specialist who swims at Auburn.

-- Newcomer Adrian, 19, is a young sprint-swimming talent with all the physical skills and perhaps more important, a coaching/training program that has proven to be an Olympic magic bullet at the past two Summer Games: He's coached by Mike Bottom and trains in The Race Club program run by Gary Hall Jr., the two-time reigning gold medalist in the 50 free and a 10-time Olympic medalist.

-- Freestyler Emily Silver, 22, also of Bainbridge, has a shot at the 100 and 200 free.

-- Margaret Hoelzer, 25, who finished fifth in the 200m backstroke at Athens, now trains at King Aquatics and has a strong shot at a repeat Olympic performance in the 100 or 200 back.

NBC will run a one-hour packaged show from the trials, beginning at 5 p.m. local time Sunday. See a complete TV schedule (the coverage is on two stations and one Web site) here.

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Blogroll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.