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US Swim Trials notes: Youngest qualifier competes during Wave I prelims

US Swim Trials notes: Youngest qualifier competes during Wave I prelims

The youngest swimmer entered in the Olympic Trials competed during Saturday’s Wave I prelims.

Kayla Han of Brea, California, qualified for the Trials on May 29, one day before the qualifying period ended. Her time of 4:50.70 in the 400-meter individual medley established a new national record for the 11-12 age group.

Han was 12 that day but arrived in Omaha last week as a 13-year-old after celebrating her birthday two days after her record-setting swim. Though she’s now in her first week as a teenager, Han is still the youngest Trials qualifier.

Her prelim swim of 4:56.66 was good for 13th place and a berth in Saturday night’s ‘B’ final. Han finished first in 4:51.08.

NU record holder swims

A second Nebraska swimmer took her turn in the pool during Saturday’s prelims.

Tori Beeler, a senior from Parkville, Missouri, who owns the Huskers’ school records in both the 200- yard and 200-meter individual medley races, finished second in her heat and 44th overall in 1:12.83. Her seed time for the meet was 1:10.99.

Leehy gets athlete’s perspective

Former Council Bluffs Lewis Central state champion Mykenzie Leehy isn’t the only Omaha-area resident who knows new Auburn coach Ryan Wochomurka.

Jayne Wochomurka (nee Tinley) is Wochomurka’s mother. She is a 1973 graduate of Omaha Westside and was a talented club swimmer. High school swimming didn’t begin for girls until the following year, so Jayne Wochomurka, who now lives in The Villages, Florida, exclusively competed for the Omaha Westside Swim Club.

When he was the head coach at Houston before taking the Auburn job in April, Ryan Wochomurka recruited Leehy to join the Cougars program. Leehy is following Wochomurka to his alma mater and will compete as a fifth-year senior with the extra season of eligibility given because of the pandemic.

Leehy, who finished fifth in Friday’s 100 freestyle, now has played three different roles at the Trials, beginning when she was a 13-year-old at the 2012 meet.

“This is my first time actually swimming in the meet,” Leehy said. “In 2012 I was a basket carrier. I was working, I wasn’t in high school yet. I was pretty young. Then the last time it was here (2016) I came and watched every day.

“So it’s cool to be a part of it from an athlete’s standpoint.”

Going for good times

Time trials are events offered during most big swimming competitions to allow swimmers the chance of achieving official times for future meets.

Four Nebraska swimmers have taken part in time trials the past two days following the Wave I prelims.

Former Omaha Creighton Prep standout Connor Funke won his time trial in the 100-meter breaststroke Friday with a time of 1:03.35. That performance was just 0.06 seconds from matching the Wave I qualifying standard.

Funke, who competes for Cincinnati, is tied for the No. 31 seed in Sunday’s 200 breaststroke prelims with a time of 2:17.68. George Washington senior and Elkhorn South graduate Ryan Patterson was ninth in the 50 freestyle in 24.36.

Omaha Westside junior Nate Germonprez, who was sixth in Friday’s 100 backstroke final, was third in his 100 butterfly time trial Saturday in 56.02. His seed time was 55.96.

Siblings Alana and Tommy Palmer of Lincoln took their first swims in the CHI Health Center pool in preparation for their 50 freestyle races.

Alana, who is a senior at Wisconsin, finished fifth in 57.53 after entering with a seed time of 56.49. Tommy, a senior at Lincoln Southwest, tied for sixth overall after reaching the 50-meter turn in his heat in eighth place. His time was 51.64.

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Steve covers swimming, softball, track and field, the Omaha Lancers and more for The World-Herald.

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