Wilton Wahoos to compete at U.S. Olympic swim trials
Five Wilton Y Wahoos are leaving this week for the biggest meet of their lives.
The United States Olympic team swim trials.
The trials, which take place June 26 through July 3 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., are the largest swimming event in the country and determine the team that will represent America at the upcoming Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Wahoos’ contingent at trials includes Ky-lee Perry, a recent graduate from Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, who was one of the top female recruits in the state this year. Perry will swim at North Carolina State.
She joins four older Wahoos who are already competing in college: Stephen Holmquist (a freshman at Michigan), Verity Abel (a sophomore at Duke), Ian Rainey (a sophomore at Michigan), and Eric Ronda (a junior at Harvard). Holmquist is a Wilton resident, while Abel and Rainey are from Westport and Ronda is from Greenwich.
While qualifying for the trials is tough enough, earning a spot on the U.S. squad is extraordinarily difficult. Only the top two swimmers in each event at trials automatically make the U.S. Olympic team for the upcoming Summer Games in Brazil. Four others are chosen for freestyle relays.
At the trials, the Wahoos will be in elite company. According to the USA Swimming website, there are 330,000 year-round swimmers registered on club teams with the sport’s national governing body. Of those, just .005% qualify for the Olympic trials.
Since its inception in 1972, the Wahoos program has now had 25 swimmers qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials. In 1988, Janel Jorgensen of Ridgefield won a silver medal as part of a women’s relay team at the Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain.
“We are so proud of the accomplishments over the decades of the Wilton Y Wahoos,” said Bob McDowell, the CEO of the Riverbrook Regional YMCA (now the official name of the Wilton YMCA), in a press release. “[Wahoos Director of Competitive Swimming] Coach Randy [Erlenbach] and his team have achieved a reputation for excellence recognized across the United States, enabling our swimmers to grow as individuals, achieve their goals as swimmers, and expand their potential in a nurturing environment where teamwork is valued.”
Notes: Another Wahoo, Noah Mascoll-Gomes (a high school junior from Astoria, N.Y.) has already qualified to represent Antigua at the Olympic Games.
In addition, Wahoo swimmer David Gelfand (a junior at Weston High School) will be attending the largest U.S. Paralympics trials in history from June 30 through July 2 in Charlotte, N.C. Those who make the team will compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil (Sept. 7-18).
Wahoos Senior Coach Todd Stevens will be attending the U.S. Paralympic trials, while Erlenbach will be in Omaha for the U.S. Olympic trials. Alex Baxter (head age group coach), Matt Hall (junior coach/assistant national coach), and Dave Modzelewski (assistant age group coach) will also attend the U.S. Olympic trials.
The Wahoos held a celebratory send-off for their Olympic and Paralympic trials swimmers on Wednesday afternoon at the Riverbrook Regional YMCA.