OMAHA, Neb. – Auburn's week at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials ended on a high note Sunday night as former Tiger Tyler McGill finished second in the 100-meter butterfly final to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.
McGill's time of 51.32 seconds in the final was second only to two-time defending gold medalist and world record-holder Michael Phelps, who swam the fastest time in the world this year with a 51.14. The former Tiger was sixth at the 50-meter mark, but a great turn and a strong charge down the final 25 meters – he did not breathe the final 15 meters – propelled him past former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte and NCAA Champion Tom Shields from California into second place.
"I came here for a purpose," McGill said. "It didn't matter who was next to me or where I was in the race. The goal was to make the Olympic team. It wasn't anything that I didn't expect to do; I'm just happy that I'm going to London."
McGill, a native of Champaign, Ill., who finished his Auburn eligibility in 2010, becomes the 14th current or former Auburn swimmer – the third American – to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. He will join former Tigers Eric Shanteau (men's 100 breaststroke) and Micah Lawrence (women's 100 breaststroke) on the United States team.
Also on Sunday night, incoming freshman Jillian Vitarius recorded a seventh-place finish in the women's 200 backstroke final, clocking a time of 2:12.69. She had qualified for the final Saturday night with a 2:11.69 in the semifinal, the third-fastest time ever recorded in the event by a swimmer with Auburn ties.
"This experience is unreal. I try to describe it to myself, and I can't," Vitarius said of her week at the Trials. "Just to be in this heat with all these really talented ladies is everything to me. It means so much. I can't even put it into words. I didn't really feel any pressure (tonight). I was hoping for a little faster time, but to get seventh at the Olympic Trials is just amazing. I wouldn't give it up for the world."
Earlier Sunday, four other Auburn swimmers competed in preliminaries in the women's 50 freestyle and men's 1500 freestyle. Rising junior Emily Bos clocked a 26.00 to finish 42nd overall, while Haley Krakoski posted a lifetime-best 26.28 to earn a 67th-place finish in the women's 50 free.
In the men's 1500 free, rising junior Zane Grothe turned in a time of 15:38.98 to finish 25th, and incoming freshman Steyn Funk swam a 16:08.53.