Marhenke Notches Olympic Trials Qualifier At Grand Prix

Stanford, Calif. - San Jose State University sprint standout Brie Marhenke achieved a qualifying time for the 2008 USA Olympic Team Trials in the 50 freestyle during the Stanford University Invitational Grand Prix on Saturday, April 5.

The long-course event, part of the 2008 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series, took place Friday through Sunday, April 4-6, at the Avery Aquatic Center on the Stanford campus, and was hosted by Stanford University, Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics and Pacific Swimming.

Marhenke, a senior out of Carmichael, Calif., sprinted 26.39 in morning preliminaries of the 50 free to match the qualifying standard on the dot and earn a trip to the Olympic Trials this summer. The Olympic Trials will be held this year in Omaha, Neb., June 29-July 6.

Marhenke had the 10th-best time in the morning, missing a swim-off for the championship final by just .02 seconds. The top time overall was 25.61. The four-time Western Athletic Conference individual champion then raced 26.68 to finish seventh in the consolation B final and 15th overall at night. The winning time in the championship final was a pool-record 25.51.

“I was very pleased with Brie’s performance, especially with her being so new to long-course racing (in a 50-meter-long pool),” said San Jose State head coach Sage Hopkins. “It is a great step forward, both for her and the program, to have somebody qualify for Olympic Trials.”

In addition to her effort in the 50, Marhenke turned in the 19th-fastest time during preliminaries of the 100 freestyle on Friday, April 4, timing 57.91 in her first-ever long-course 100-meter race. She went out in 27.76 over the first 50, and came back in 30.15. Amanda Weir had the top time in the morning of a pool-record 55.47.

Marhenke later placed second in the bonus consolation C final and 18th overall, improving her mark to 57.65, leaving her just .46 seconds shy of an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100. She swam 27.78 over the first 50 meters and 29.87 over the final 50. UCLA’s Anna Poteete edged Marhenke in the C final in 57.53, while Weir won the championship in 55.33. Former Cal star Natalie Coughlin, however, shattered the pool record in winning the consolation B final in 53.94.

Also on Friday, Kirsten Trammell, a freshman from Goodyear, Ariz., produced a stellar preliminary race in the 200 breaststroke, placing 20th in a lifetime-best 2:41.32 (previous best 2:41.52) and qualifying for an evening swim. Trammell timed another lifetime-best 2:40.78 in placing fifth in the C final and 21st overall at night. On Sunday morning, she was 32nd in prelims of the 400 individual medley in a time of 5:08.99.

Fellow freshman Caitlin Macky, out of San Diego, Calif., joined her in the 200 breast, swimming 2:47.49 for 33rd in prelims. Macky also went 2:28.43 in placing 62nd in prelims of the 200 individual medley and 1:18.64 to finish 41st in prelims of the 100 breaststroke, both on Saturday morning. In her fourth and final event of the competition on Sunday, Macky timed 1:08.60 for 81st in the 100 butterfly.

Julia Koch, like Macky a freshman out of San Diego, Calif., joined Marhenke in 100 free prelims on Friday, placing in a tie for 78th in 1:01.68, swimming a 29.81 first 50 and 31.87 second. On Saturday, she went 4:42.85 for 51st in the 400 freestyle, and on Sunday, 2:13.92 for 66th in the 200 free.

Katey Nelson, who will be a fourth-year senior for Hopkins next season, timed 2:28.22 in her first long-course 200-meter backstroke race, placing 47th in prelims on Saturday morning. Nelson was 66th in 1:11.19 in the 100 back and 78th in 2:17.93 in the 200 free on Sunday.

Kirsten Trammell had 100 percent best times in her races, and qualified for finals in the 200 breaststroke,” added Hopkins. “We had great early-season performances by Katey Nelson, Julia Koch and Caitlin Macky as well.”

Former Spartan standout and current assistant coach Ashley Vrieze was a sixth San Jose State affiliate competing at the Grand Prix. She went 2:25.84 in prelims of the 200 backstroke on Saturday for 37th. Her best time in the event in long-course meters is 2:23.79.

Vrieze then timed 1:06.04 for a tie for 12th and a spot in the consolation B final in her specialty, the 100 back, on Sunday morning, falling short of her best time of 1:04.81, which is just .22 seconds off the Olympic Trials standard. At night, she was second in the B final and 10th overall in 1:06.11. Erin Reisinger edged her in the race by just .04 seconds, in 1:06.07. The winning time in the championship final was a 59.44 turned in by Coughlin to match her world record from March of 2007.

Vrieze is the San Jose State school record-holder in both backstroke distances in yards.

Marhenke will have two more chances to attain her qualifying standard for Olympic Trials in the 100 free, at another Grand Prix meet in Santa Clara, Calif., in the middle of May, and a meet in Irvine, Calif., in late May. Vrieze is expected to skip the Santa Clara event and take another shot at the Trials in Irvine.