Swimming: Mundelein’s Falconer, Black head to Olympic Trials
Pat Falconer, seen here competing for Michigan State, will swim the 200 freestyle at the Olympic Trials in Omaha. | Michigan State photo
Updated: July 22, 2012 7:50PM
Ex-Mundelein High School star Pat Falconer traveled from East Lansing, Mich., to Lincolnshire to swim in an age-group meet last month.
It definitely was a worthwhile trip for the Michigan State University junior-to-be. He gets to compete at next week’s Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., after clocking a time of 1:52.86 in the 200-meter freestyle at Stevenson on May 25.
The cut in the event is 1:52.89.
“I had a bunch of kids pulling for me — club kids I didn’t even know,” recalled Falconer, a MHS grad (2010) who trained for years in Stevenson’s pool as a member of the Patriot Aquatic Club. “That was pretty cool, kids cheering for me and jumping up and down after I made it.”
Falconer swam the 200-meter swim of his life in a … 400-meter race. Had his 200 split in the 400 not been fast enough for a Trials berth, he would have competed in the meet’s 200 free event.
“(Halfway) through the 400, I heard screams,” Falconer said. “I figured they were screaming for a good reason. My goggles fogged up, I found out my time, and pumped my fist a couple of times. Then I finished the rest of the race.”
Falconer finished third in the 200-yard free and fourth in the 500 free at the IHSA state meet his senior year. One of his Mundelein teammates in ’10 was Connor Black, then a freshman.
The same Connor Black, who competes for CATS Aquatic, had made a Trials cut at a Grand Prix meet in Indianapolis on March 29. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Black needed to post a time of 55.29 in the 100-meter butterfly in order to share deck space with superstar Michael Phelps; Black finished in 54.57.
“If I see (Phelps), I wouldn’t know what to say to him,” Black said. “Probably something like, ‘Hey, you’re Michael Phelps.’ And he’d probably say something like, ‘I am.’ I don’t think I’ll say anything to him if I’m near him.”
Black and several of his CATS swim club teammates competed at the Trials venue June 8-10. The event was called the Omaha Swimvitational. Many college swimmers raced, as did former Lake Forest standout Matt Grevers, one of Phelps’ gold-medal-winning teammates at the 2008 Summer Games in China.
“That was pretty cool, seeing him there,” said Black, runner-up in the 50 free and 100 free at the IHSA state meet in February. “What was really cool was the facility. Imagine a big indoor basketball arena with a pool in the middle of it. That’s what it looked like to me. I had a bunch of fun there, and I’m looking forward to returning there for an awesome experience.”
Black has not set his sights on a target time in the 100 fly. He has one eye on the Trials and another on Junior Nationals, to be held in Indianapolis, in August.
“Going fast is always good, right?” Black said. “That’s what I’ll try to do. But the main focus is on Junior Nats, at the end of the season when I’ll be fully tapered.”
Black plans to arrive, with his family, in Omaha several days before his event. In the car with him will be his parents, Scott and Linda, and his 14-year-old brother, Duncan.
“I’m glad I was able to experience a meet in the Trials arena before the Trials,” said Black. “When I watch the races before my race, I expect to be dazzled.”