Wildcat athletes compete in Olympic trials

McKenzie Maxson

As the excitement surrounding this summer’s Olympic games approaches, 19 past, present and future Wildcats competed in Omaha, Nebraska in the Olympic trials, hoping to become members of the United States Olympic Team.

Current Northwestern students Dominik Cubelic, John Frutiger, Meredith King, Jackie Powell, Taylor Reynolds, Charlie Rimkus, Varun Shivakumar, Becca Soderholm, Chase Stephens and Jenny Wilson all competed in the trials which go from June 25 to July 2. NU alumni Mike Alexandrov, Matt Grevers, Sean Matthews and Alex Tyler also attended the trials, according to the NU Athletics Department.

Grevers and Alexandrov are both former Olympians trying for a second time around in the games, according to . Grevers (Communication ’07), competed for the United States in the 2008 Games and won three medals: a gold in both the 400m and the 400m medley and a silver in the 100m, according to the USA Swimming website.

Alexandrov (Weinberg ’08), competed for Bulgaria in the 2008 Olympics, but attended the trials in Omaha this year to attempt to win a place on the United States’ team for 2012.

NU’s incoming swimmers who competed include Van Donkersgoed, Julianne Kurke, Shelly Patton, Karen Turner and Jordan Wilimovsky.

“I think overwhelming is the best way to describe it,” Weinberg freshman Julianne Kurke said. “There were so many famous Olympic swimmers there swimming in the same meet as you, it was such a good experience.”

Kurke, who competed in the 100m breaststroke, said she was excited for her future as an NU swimmer .

“I actually saw Northwestern coaches there every day, ” Kurke said. “NU had a lot of swimmers there, 19 is a fairly large number, even though a lot of us weren’t in the fastest heats.”

Weinberg freshman Jordan Wilimovsky, who competed in the 1500m freestyle, said he also had the opportunity to spend time with his future teammates.

“I actually met with the NU coach here and some of the other guys from the team,” Wilimovsky said.

Weinberg senior Charlie Rimkus said NU has made a big impact on the competing swimmers.”A lot of people freak out at the trials because the atmosphere is so crazy but I think our coaches really prepared us both physically and mentally for the meet,” Rimkus said.

He said even for athletes who have already competed for NU for years, the trails are still exciting. Rimkus said NU athletes seem to be affected more by the amazing experience than the times they swam or the places that they received.

“It’s a breathtaking experience,” he said. “It makes you feel so proud to be a part of America and you feel a sense of patriotism that is really hard to replicate in any other meet.

[email protected]northwestern.edu