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Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Gator madness strikes at swim trials

By Bonnie D. Ford and Wayne Drehs

OMAHA, Neb. -- Rookie Olympic men's coach Gregg Troy of the University of Florida started his tenure off with a bang Monday night, as four swimmers with Gators connections punched their tickets to London.

The famous Gator "chomp" was visible in the stands as student-athletes and post-graduate club swimmers who compete for the Gators Swim Club bared their competitive teeth.

Troy was "coach of the day," said his veteran counterpart Jon Urbanchek, the ex-University of Michigan coach who is wrapping up his career with the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST).

Ryan Lochte, UF class of 2007, kicked things off with a drubbing of rival Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley. Triple Olympic medalist Peter Vanderkaay, who trains alongside Lochte at the club, qualified first in the 400 freestyle, followed by teammate Conor Dwyer. Student-athlete Elizabeth Beisel bookended the evening by finishing first in the 400 IM, the event she won at last year's world championships.

"I think it's a true testament to [Troy's] coaching and a testament to the program," she said. "The first three [trials winners] happen to be three Gators, and he is the best coach in the world. I'm so fortunate to be able to swim for him. It's not always fun, but we make it fun, and we work really hard, and it's nice that it's all paying off."

Troy demurred at the notion of taking credit. "It's all them," he said.

"We've got a pretty close team. They're all into what one another does. I actually think what the guys did in the 400 hurt Elizabeth in the IM. She got distracted a little bit. Ryan winning the first event sets a little bit of a tone, for sure."

Said Lochte: "Like I said earlier, this is our time. We put in the work and I guess we're just ready and we just went out there ... it started with me and we're a team, and feeding off each other and helping each other throughout the meet."