Thirty-six years ago, Brenda Borgh punched her ticket to the Montreal Olympics when she placed third in the 400 meter freestyle at the 1976 US Swimming Olympic Team Trials. Four years ago, at the 2008 qualifying meet, she watched from the bleachers with her family as 43 American men and women swimmers became Olympians. This week finds Borgh and her family at the meet again. However, this time around, they’ll be one body short … in the bleachers, that is.
Borgh’s son, Denison swimmer Quinn Barlett ’13, has qualified for this year’s Olympic Team Trials in two events: the 100 meter backstroke, which takes place today, and the 200 meter backstroke, which he’ll swim on Friday. And Bartlett is in good company as Big Red teammate Al Weik ’14 will join him on deck. Weik will compete in the 1,500 meter freestyle on Sunday.
Reflecting on her own experience and how she’s seen her son prepare for this year’s meet, Borgh says, “I went into the 1976 Olympic Trials just wanting to do my best, realizing that I only had an outside chance. I have never suggested anything else to Quinn. I see no reason to place added pressure on him as I feel that he places his own expectations on himself—and they usually exceed simply doing his best.”
Bartlett, who’s excited to compete in the meet this year (rather than cheer from the stands as he did four years ago), agrees. “The biggest rule with my mom, my dad—they’ve always wanted me in swimming as long it’s still fun for me.”
Well, it doesn’t get much better than the Olympic Trials, swimming alongside the likes of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, does it?
So, where exactly do the two Big Red men stand? In the 100 backstroke, Bartlett is seeded 96 out of 133, and in the 200 backstroke—in which he’ll swim in a preliminary heat against six-time Olympic medalist Lochte—he’s 25 out of 113. In the 1,500 freestyle, Weik—the NCAA Division III record-holder in the mile—is seeded 44 out of 96.
Arguably the fastest swim meet in the world, the US Olympic Team Trials started yesterday and will continue through Monday, July 2 in Omaha, Nebraska. The top two swimmers in each event will qualify for this year’s Olympics in London (with the exception of those freestyle events that require additional swimmers for relays).
Recently hired assistant coach Megan Waters also will compete in Omaha. Earlier this year, Carlos Maciel ’14 and Spencer Fronk ’14 competed in the Brazilian and Canadian Olympic Team Trials, respectively. In 2004, former Denison swimmer Darius Grigaliunas ’00 swam in the Athens Olympics as a member of the Lithuanian team.
From the bleachers in Omaha, where will Borgh’s mind be this week? “I know for a fact that I will relive my own experience in my head,” she said. “I am thrilled for Quinn as I know this is a life experience he will never forget, and I’m sure when he gets in the water for his 200 backstroke I’ll be a little nervous myself.”
As for Bartlett, well, he’s excited about the experience as well—a chance to compete with not only the best swimmers in the country but the best swimmers in the world.