Four Texas-Ex Swimmers Headed for Olympics
By Greg Echlin
The U.S. Olympic swimming team will include four former Longhorns, three men and one woman. One of them got a much bigger role on the last day of the trials after Michael Phelps said he’d pull out of the 200-meter freestyle to focus on the 4-by-100 relay team.
That pushed former Longhorn swimmer Ricky Berens into a pivotal position in the 200 meters, said U.S. swimming coach Gregg Troy.
“It means Ricky Berens is going to go real fast,” Troy said.
Berens, who finished his college career with the Longhorns two years ago, finished third in the 200 meters behind Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
Another UT alum, Jimmy Feigen, who ended his Longhorn career with two NCAA individual titles last March, is also on the Olympic team after a fifth-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle on Sunday night.
“I thought it was good,” Feigen said. “I wish my final swim would have been a little bit better, but I’ve got the 12th- or 13th-fastest time in the world right now. Not too shabby.”
Feigen and Berens will also compete on the U.S. relay team.
The third former Longhorn on the men’s side is 30-year-old Brendan Hansen. This will be his third trip to the Olympics. He already owns four medals, two of them gold. Hansen qualified in the 100-meter breaststroke but missed in the 200.
“We all expected better, but we knew he went through some pretty tough times,” coach Eddie Reese said. “He had his knee drained three times since March.”
On the women’s side, Kathleen Hersey punched an Olympic ticket for the second time in the 200 meter butterfly.
“It was a lot of nerves,” Hersey said. “A lot of, not pressure, but just a lot of expectation.”
Almost on Hersey’s mind was her mother, Regina, who died of cancer in early January.
“There was a lot more to it than just swimming this time,” Hersey said. “This is the first big meet I hadn’t had her. I haven’t had her text messages or ridiculous jokes she would always tell me. It’s a new experience, and there’s going to be a lot of firsts in the next coming year. I’m just so grateful that I’ve had one of those experiences, and I know she’ll be with me the whole way.”
The Olympic games open on July 27.