WPIAL products fare well at U.S. Olympic Swim Trials

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 | 1:03 PM

North Allegheny graduate Jack Wright said he was taken aback when he entered the CHI Health Center in Omaha for the Wave I U.S. Olympic Swim Trials last week.

“It is a one-of-a-kind pool that is built up, and it is unlike anything I’ve swam in before,” said Wright, a former WPIAL and PIAA champion who now competes for the University of Virginia. “You enter this massive arena, and it’s an incredible experience to be a part of an amazing event. ”

Each event, contested in long-course meters, had a goal for the swimmers to finish in the top two. That assured the swimmer a spot in the Wave II meet, set for this Sunday through June 20 in Omaha.

Wave II determines who will qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo next month.

Wright qualified for the finals of Saturday’s 200 freestyle and swam to seventh overall in a time of 1 minute, 52.09 seconds.

“It was a pretty intense feeling, but I just had to remind myself that it was just another race,” Wright said. “At the trials, it often is not about the time as it is wanting to get top two. You are racing against the competitors more than worrying about your time. It was fun to go out and race my competitors and get the best finish possible.”

Wright also swam the 400 free on Sunday and just missed the consolation finals, finishing 17th.

Aspinwall’s Zoe Skirboll, a former WPIAL and PIAA champion at Fox Chapel, qualified for Wave II on Saturday with a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.32).

The 16-year-old rising high school senior added an eighth (56.39) in the 100 free final on Friday.

Her Wave II qualification in the 100 breast also affords her the opportunity to swim her other three events, including the 50 free and 200 individual medley, at the Wave II meet.

Skirboll was slated to swim the 50 free and 200 IM on Monday, but she opted out of both events.

Ellwood City grad and Ohio State senior Taylor Petrak, a PIAA champ in the 50-yard free, finished fourth in the 50-meter version Monday with a time of 25.59.

The winner clocked a time of 25.46 in the fast final heat.

North Allegheny grad and University of Kentucky freshman Torie Buerger won her consolation heat in the 200 backstroke (2:14.12) Sunday and placed ninth overall.

Another North Allegheny grad, Mason Gonzalez, swam the 100 free, and the Stanford men’s team member placed second in the consolation final (50.30) and earned 10th overall.

The Wave II pre-scratch event lineups and seeding are slated to be released Wednesday by USA Swimming.

Notables from the WPIAL joining the Wave II party include 2016 Olympian and Oakland Catholic graduate Leah Smith, North Allegheny grad and Stanford freshman Rick Mihm, Upper St. Clair senior and national high school record holder Josh Matheny and Highands grad and Kentucky senior Bailey Bonnett.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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