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Sierra Marlins send 12 to Olympic swim trials

By: Brett Ransford/Folsom Telegraph Correspondent
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An unprecedented number of local swimmers have been given a chance to represent the United States on the world?s greatest stage. The Sierra Marlins swim team, based in Folsom and practicing at Vista del Lago High School, will send 11 current and former athletes to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials from June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb. Jeff Pearson, Marlins CEO and head coach, had five qualifying swimmers in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Four years later marks a record number of Marlins swimmers heading to the trials and the first serious chance at one actually making the Olympic team ? one more, that is. ?We?ve actually already had one athlete make the Olympic team this year,? Pearson said. ?Haley Anderson, she qualified last weekend so she?s got the sole USA spot in open water.? Anderson and her older sister, Alyssa Anderson, attended Granite Bay High School. Both were on the 2010 World Championship team. Neither is currently practicing with the Marlins, but four young athletes will be in Folsom leading up to the trials. Brian Westlake, a senior at Del Oro, Sophie Weber, a senior at Granite Bay, Lauren Fitzgerald, a junior at Granite Bay, and Mikaela Macklin, a sophomore at San Diego State and graduate of El Dorado High School, made the cut for this year?s trials. ?It?s the biggest event, besides the Olympics,? Westlake said. ?Even some of the best athletes say it?s more competitive at the trials and they get more hyped up for those than the actual Olympics.? Haley Anderson qualified for the Olympic team with a 1:44:30.6 finish in a 10K qualifier in Portugal on June 9. Alyssa Anderson is participating in her first Olympic Trials. Other Marlins who also qualified for their first trials are David Seiler, a UNLV graduate from Auburn; Lauren Clifford, a junior at Northwestern and graduate of El Dorado; and Sara Haley, a junior at Louisiana State who graduated from Oak Ridge. Alyssa Conner, a Granite Bay graduate and now a senior at Texas A&M, also made the cut. Macklin, who played basketball at El Dorado before attending San Diego State, only swam as a senior. She joined the Marlins three years ago and traded in her sneakers for a swim cap. ?My senior year, after basketball season was over, I called Jeff the next day,? Macklin said. ?Realistically, I want to make the semifinals at the trials. That?s my biggest goal is to make the top 16. I would be so happy with that.? While Pearson said Alyssa Anderson has a legitimate shot to make the Olympic team, his other swimmers aren?t lacking in talent. Westlake, a future University of Alabama swimmer, is a seven-time All-American, putting him among the nation?s top 100 swimmers. He also competed in the 2011 USA Winter National Championships and holds five league and five school records. In 2008, Westlake missed the cut and an invitation to the trials. With that in mind, he has set a goal of shaving 20 seconds off his qualifying time. ?I want to drop some time so I can be in the top 100 in the world, which is 20 seconds off the time I did last year,? Westlake said. ?To be selected to the Olympic team you have to be one of the two best, and some of those guys are a whole minute better than me, so that?s unrealistic at this point. There are athletes there from 15 to 40 years old. This is the meet to be at.? Pearson and the Marlins have begun a period of ?tapering? training ? reducing the amount of vigorous swimming and storing up rest and nutrition in preparation for the trials. In preparation for her events at the trials, Macklin said she?s doing what the other local athletes are. ?Spending my parents? money on plane tickets to Nebraska,? Macklin said. Adam Jorgensen, a graduate of Roseville High and now a freshman at Cal, also will compete at the trials.