UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. - Rising senior Lauren Hines and rising junior Mali Kobelja are set to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials beginning next week at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Hines will swim in both the 100 and 200 back, while Kobelja will race in the 200 IM.
"The U.S. Olympic Team Trials ("Trials") is a unique event," said head coach Matt Barany. "U.S. Swimming has created a process in which the best from our country must qualify to race for one week to determine who will represent our country in London. The top two finishers in each event will make the U.S. team - just two! There will be upsets, heartbreak, breakthroughs and a lot of "wows." Some will argue Trials is a faster meet than the Olympics because the American talent pool is so deep. I am proud these women will represent Richmond at this level. They have sacrificed a lot of their life in preparation for this meet. They will represent Richmond well."
Hines (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley) will compete in the prelims of the 100 back on Tuesday, June 26 and the 200 back on Saturday, June 30. After taking gold in both events at the Atlantic 10 Championship, Hines would become the third All-American in program history with her 16th-place showing in the 100 back at March's NCAA Championship. In addition to setting the school record in the prelims of the 100 back in Auburn, Hines would post a new program mark in the 200 portion of the event at Nationals as well.
"Lauren had a good spring, and I think her experience at NCAAs only helped her grow," said Barany. "I know she isn't afraid of the highest level - she performs well in the "bright" lights."
Kobelja (Fort Wayne, Ind./R. Nelson Snider) is set to compete in the prelims of the 200 IM on Wednesday, June 27. Following three A-10 Performer of the Week honors this season, she raced to three individual wins at February's conference championship. Kobelja reset her own 200 and 400 IM meet marks in addition to clocking a career-best finish in the 200 breast that now ranks second in the school annals. She was a key member of the Spiders' four winning relays at the conference meet, including the record-setting 200 and 400 medley relay squads.
"Mali has been to fewer national meets, yet she has a fearless edge," said Barany. "Like Lauren, she'll race with no regard to the pain. I expect Mali to walk away from Omaha with valuable lessons about fast swimming, herself and her future. She will be inspired."
"I know Lauren and Mali rank this meet at the top," added Barany. "Most swimmers see it as a sign of significant accomplishment. I remember recruiting conversations with both of them about 'getting their trials cuts.' I know it was on their mind prior to landing at Richmond. Even though we don't have a 50-meter pool, we were still able to be successful in the longer format. This accomplishment can build their confidence heading into future swimming seasons and future personal opportunities."
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