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Virginia swimmers aim sights at Olympic berths

Take a moment to look at your watch. At this very second, thousands of young athletes are dreaming of that one moment - their country's flag hanging high in the air, their national anthem resonating off the walls and a radiant gold medal dangling from their necks. Everyday they try their best to get one step closer to this dream, hoping that one day they will be able to represent their country in the world's most prestigious athletic contest: The Olympic Games.

And at this very moment, current and former Virginia swimmers are in the pools, training for their chance to make their Olympic dreams become a reality.

"Preparation [for the U.S. Olympic team trials] is going great," 2000 graduate Doak Finch said. "We train 10 times a week. We've been practicing in the mornings and afternoons and sometimes at night too."

While a handful of Virginia swimming athletes prepare for the U.S. trials, which are scheduled to take place August 9-16 in Indianapolis, two already are guaranteed their chances at a dream come true.

Both Mirjana Bosevska and Shamek Pietucha have qualified to participate in the celebrated Games for their respective countries. Bosevska, a rising sophomore, will compete for Macedonia in the 400-meter freestyle as well as the 800 free and the 400 individual medley. Pietucha, a 1999 graduate, will represent Canada in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Pietucha qualified for Sydney in the 2000 Canadian Olympic trials with a victory in the 200 fly and a second-place finish in the 100 fly in early June.

Related Links
  • Unofficial athletic site for Virginia swimming and


  • Official site for USA swimming
  • ESPN's coverage of the 2000 Olympic Games

    "It's such a wonderful thing to be part of the Olympic movement," Bernadino said. "It doesn't matter what country you represent. It's awesome just to be a part of it."

    And that's all that Cara Lane, Doak Finch, Austin Ramirez, Jamie Grimes and Ed Moses want: just to be part of it.

    There is no doubt that each of these candidates has the potential to fulfill their dreams of swimming for the United States in the Olympics. In the 2000 NCAA Championships, rising sophomore Cara Lane gave the Virginia women their first individual NCAA title and highest-ever finish by placing third in the 400 free and winning the 1,500 free by 11 seconds. Besides being the 2000 NCAA 1,500 free champion, Lane also placed first in both the 800 free and 1,500 free in the 1999 World University Games.

    Finch, a men's co-captain last season, placed fourth in 200 fly at the 2000 NCAA Championships. Finch was also the 1996-97 ACC Rookie of the Year and is the NCISSA record-holder for the 100-yard fly, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard free and 200-yard IM. Austin Ramirez, also a co-captain and 2000 graduate, placed eighth in the 400 free at the 2000 national championships. Ramirez took second in the 400 free at the 1999 Pan American Games as well. With 11 awards each, Finch and Ramirez left Virginia as co-owners of the school record for All-American honors.

    Rising senior Jamie Grimes will have his chance at the Olympic Trials as well. Grimes finished his outstanding season with a second-place finish in the 1,650 free at the 2000 ACC Championships and a sixth-place finish in the 1,500 free at the 2000 NCAA Championships.

    Ed Moses may have the greatest chance to head to Sydney of any Virginia swimming representative. The rising junior established himself as the world's best breaststroker when he broke world records three times at the 2000 NCAA Championships. In becoming the national champion of the 100 and 200 breast events, Moses led the Virginia men to a 12th-place finish at the Championships. Moses is also the American record-holder in 50 breast and the Pan Am Games record-holder in 100 breast.

    Moses knows how much a gold could mean for him. He's set himself up to cash in on his Olympic performance by forgoing his final two years of college eligibility and signing with an agent. Endorsements for the Burke, Va. native could head into the millions.

    "Ed Moses stands a wonderful chance [at making the Olympic team]," said Bernadino.

    Yet Bernadino isn't keeping his hopes high just for the world record-breaking champion. Despite the tough level of competition, he has expectations for the rest of the team participating in the U.S. Trials as well.

    "It's very difficult to make an Olympic team," he said. "You'd have to be among the top two in the country and the top 10 in the world. I'm very confident that [the Virginia participants] are going to represent themselves very well. They all have the potential to make the team, but whether or not on that given day they race the race of their lives is yet to be seen."

    One thing is clear: While the young are in bed dreaming of an Olympic future, the Virginia swimmers are in the pool, hoping they will swim towards an Olympic reality.


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