OMAHA, NE – Former Auburn swimmer Micah Lawrence became the 13th current or former Auburn swimmer to punch their ticket to the 2012 London Olympics with a runner-up finish in the women's 200-meter breaststroke Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
In addition, former Tiger Tyler McGill and incoming freshman Jillian Vitarius advanced to Sunday's finals in their respective events – McGill in the men's 100 butterfly and Vitarius in the women's 200 backstroke – before a sellout crowd of 14,335 fans at Omaha's CenturyLink Center.
Lawrence, who has spent the past year training under former Auburn coach David Marsh at SwimMAC Carolina, posted a time of 2:23.03, a lifetime-best mark and the fastest time in Auburn history. She was two seconds behind winner Rebecca Soni and almost two full seconds ahead of the third-place finisher, Andrea Kropp.
"I knew I was going to be really excited for that race," Lawrence said. "Coach told me to concentrate on my line that first 100, just go out really smoothly, then bring it back that last 100. That's been our plan the whole time I've been with him. I was hopeful (of making the team), but I know the Olympic Trials can always bring out the best (in everyone else)."
Lawrence is the second former Auburn swimmer to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team at this week's Trials, joining 2006 graduate Eric Shanteau (men's 100 breaststroke).
Seeded second coming into the Trials and ranked third in the world, McGill will swim in the finals of the men's 100 butterfly tomorrow night. As in preliminaries, he posted the second-fastest time of the semifinals with a 51.88 – just .01 slower than his prelim time – to earn the second seed in tomorrow's final, right behind world record-holder Michael Phelps. Phelps, meanwhile, swam the fastest time in the world this year in the second heat, a 51.35.
"I wish I had made a better (effort), to be honest," McGill said. "I want to be fast for tomorrow. That's the only goal. I know what it's going to take to be in position to go to London, and 51.8 probably won't be it. I've got to find a way to go faster."
Vitarius, who signed with the Tigers in November, swam the third-fastest time in the 200m backstroke by anyone with Auburn ties in history, clocking a 2:11.96 in the first semifinal heat to finish fifth overall and secure her spot in the final. It was a massive improvement for the Kingwood, Texas, native – she was nearly two full seconds faster in the semifinal than in her preliminary swim this morning.
In addition, senior Karl Krug wrapped up his Auburn career with a 16th-place finish in the 50 freestyle semifinals. His time of 22.74 was a hair slower than his preliminary time of 22.68.
Sunday's finals action gets underway at 7 p.m. ET.
In addition, Sunday morning will be the final session of preliminaries with heats in the women's 50 freestyle and men's 1500 freestyle. Four Auburn swimmers will compete Sunday morning – Emily Bos and Haley Krakoski in the women's 50 free and Zane Grothe and incoming freshman Steyn Funk in the men's 1500 free.
Auburn Swimming & Diving
2012 U.S. Olympic Trials – Day 6 Finals
June 30, 2012
CenturyLink Center – Omaha, Neb.
Men's 50 Freestyle – Semifinals
16. Karl Krug – 22.74
Women's 200 Breaststroke – Final
2. Micah Lawrence – 2:23.03 (PR) (AU record) (Qualifies for Olympics)
Women's 200 Backstroke – Semifinals
5. Jillian Vitarius – 2:11.96 (PR) (Advances to Final)
Men's 100 Butterfly – Semifinals
2. Tyler McGill – 51.88 (Advances to Final)
Sunday's Schedule – Prelims
10 a.m. – Women's 50 Freestyle: Emily Bos, Haley Krakoski
10:30 a.m. – Men's 1500 Freestyle: Zane Grothe, Steyn Funk
7:06 p.m. – Women's 200 Backstroke Final: Jillian Vitarius