Without a jersey number to identify them, most of America’s goggle-wearing, Olympic-hopeful swimmers step from the water to become as anonymous as a Sunday School organist.
Maybe you’d recognize Michael Phelps in a crowd, or Amanda Beard, but on Wednesday afternoon at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, the UA distributed identification placards to 52 reputation-blessed, medal-seeking swimmers.
I saw Lara Jackson holding a white card that said LARA JACKSON, and to her everlasting credit, she didn’t seem to be offended.
Over the last few years while swimming for the Arizona Wildcats, Team USA and Ford Aquatics, Jackson set three American records, won nine NCAA championships and set two NCAA records.
She believes, and with justification, she can swim 50 meters faster than any other woman on earth, and hopes to get a chance to prove it when the London Olympics begin in 70 days.
“At the 2008 Olympic trials, I set the American record in the morning but it was broken about five hours later,” she said, smiling. “That’s how intense the competition is at this level.”
The UA trotted out its legion of swimming stars for the first-ever media day on campus, an unofficial launch to next month’s Olympic trials, which begin June 25 in Omaha, Neb.
Already, five ex-Wildcats who train under UA coach Eric Hansen have qualified for London: Venezuela’s Albert Subirats, Brazil’s Nicolas Nilo, South Africa’s Darian Townsend and Jean Basson and Great Britain’s Simon Burnett.
Read more about the swimmers in Friday's Arizona Daily Star.