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Swimming: Canyons Aquatic sends three to trials

Locals to take part in Olympic qualifying meet

Posted: September 8, 2010 10:50 p.m.
Updated: September 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.

After strong showings at the USA Swimming National Championships, Junior National Championships and Speedo Grand Prix, three members of locally based Canyons Aquatic Club have earned themselves spots at the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.

West Ranch senior Riley Mita and Hart graduate Konrad Antoniuk qualified for the 1,500-meter freestyle event, while Golden Valley graduate Michelle Duraj will compete in the 200 breaststroke.

"This is the first time that three high school-age swimmers on our club have qualified for the trials," said Canyons Aquatic Club head coach Jeff Conwell. "We've had some that were college-aged, but this is the first time we had three this early."

In 2004, Canyons Aquatic members John Criste, Lisa Andrade and Maureen Farrell qualified for the trials. However, Andrade and Farrell were not from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Duraj is entering her freshman year at the University of Denver, while Antoniuk is in his first year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Mita's qualifying time of 15 minutes, 46.65 seconds in the 1,500 was about seven seconds faster than the Olympic Trials timing standard. He recorded that time at the National Championships in Irvine from Aug. 3-7.

Antoniuk, meanwhile, earned his trip to Nebraska at the Junior National Swim Championships with a time of 15:48.17. The meet was held in Irvine from Aug. 9-13.

Duraj's qualifying time of 2:35.27 was recorded at the Speedo Grand Prix meet held locally at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center on July 21-25. Her mark narrowly beat the standard of 2:35.99.

"It's a combination of the athlete with talent and putting in a really hard year of training," Conwell said of what it takes to compete in high-profile events. "It's not just talent. Rarely does a swimmer with just talent get to the Olympic Trials. That's the beauty of the sport and why this next step is such a difficult one to attain."

The Olympic Trials will take place in 2012 from June 25 to July 2. The top two finishers in each event get a spot on the national team for the Olympic Games in London.

"Do they have a shot? Sure. In a year and a half, a lot of things can happen," Conwell said. "They've made some big strides in the last year, and they'd have to make some big strides again to be in the top two, but anything is possible."



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