Trio of local swimmers make U.S. Trials finals in 100 butterfly

Matt Kredich on UT's swimmers at the Olympic Trials

OMAHA, Neb. —Christine Magnuson said it best Monday night.

"Tennessee girls are well-represented tonight!'' said Magnuson, drying off after securing the eighth and final spot for tonight's finals of the 100-meter butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials at the CenturyLink Center.

Kelsey Floyd of UT and Lenoir City High School graduate Claire Donahue were even faster than Magnuson.

Floyd and Donahue tied for second in the first heat of the two semifinals at 58.53 seconds, sixth-fastest heading into the finals.

"The big thing was figuring out how to calm my nerves and relax,'' said the 21-year-old Floyd, a rising senior who swam in the 2008 trials, finishing 132nd out of 137 in this same event. "This morning put me into a more confident spot.''

Floyd reached the semis with a 58.67 in her preliminary.

Donahue, who trained with the Blount Area Swim Team before attending Western Kentucky, had the second-best time in the prelims, on pace for an American record through the first 50 meters before finishing at 57.82.

"I usually go out pretty fast,'' Donahue said after her morning heat. "At the 50 (-meter) I felt pretty good, but I started to struggle at 75.''

Floyd said having Donahue in the lane next to her in the semifinals was an advantage.

"It was positive because the big thing with me is I need to take it out faster, and her and Dana (Vollmer) are the fastest the first 50,'' she said.

Vollmer was fastest in the semifinals, clocking an American record 56.42, which was also the fastest time in the world this year. Elaine Breeden was second at 58:18.

The top finisher in the final earns an automatic spot for the U.S. team for the London Olympics, and the second-place finisher also has traditionally made the team.

Jennifer Connolly, who just finished her senior season at UT, was 12th.

"The only thing I can complain about was it wasn't fast enough,'' said Connolly, who's seeded sixth in today's 100 backstroke prelims.

Pinion's Narrow Miss: Bearden High's Evan Pinion just missed qualifying for the finals of the 400 freestyle.

Pinion swam the 12th-fastest time, 3:51.02. The eighth and final time to make finals was 3:49.89.

Pinion, 17, swims again on Sunday in the 1500 free, where he's seeded 10th.

"Today, I got all the nerves out,'' Pinion said. "I know what to expect now, and I don't need to worry about anything heading into Sunday.''

Pinion's coach at the Pilot Aquatics Club, former five-time UT All-American Jim Rumbaugh, was pleased.

"Evan handled the pressure of being in the final heat very well and followed our race strategy perfectly,'' Rumbaugh said. "He was right where we wanted him at 300 but just didn't have the kick on the end to make it into the final. This was to be expected, because most of our preparation has been for the mile (1500).

"At the last (2008) trials, his time would have placed sixth.''

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee athletics. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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