April 5, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Auburn sophomore Alana Dillette earned a spot on the Bahamas Olympic Team on Saturday as she clocked a 1:03.02 in the 100m backstroke preliminary at the Ohio Grand Prix in Columbus, Ohio.
Dillette earns her Olympic berth one day after Auburn senior Alexei Puninski made the Olympic team for Croatia with his performance in the 100m butterfly. They are two of three current Tigers who have already punched their ticket to the 2008 Olympic Games as junior Cesar Cielo has already earned a spot on the Brazil National Team.
"I've been looking at those times for a long time now and it was frustrating last summer when I would come so close and not get them," said Dillette. "Because college swimming is in yards, I basically had to wait all year to swim a tapered long course meet, so getting here is really exciting."
The sophomore from Nassau, Bahamas, finished second in the 100m back preliminary with her 1:02.03, a time that ranks fifth all-time at Auburn. To earn her way onto the Bahamas National Team, she had to come in under 1:03.87. Dillette came back in the evening session to finish sixth in the finals with a time of 1:03.25.
"I was really happy with my time, it was my best time by more than a second," said Dillette. "I decided to take it out really fast and I knew I was doing good and I was just trying to stay in control in the finish."
The two fastest men in Auburn history dueled it out in the 50m freestyle on Saturday with former Tiger Fred Bousquet coming out on top after touching in three-hundredths of a second ahead of Cielo.
Bousquet, a 2004 Olympian for France and an anticipated national team member for 2008, clocked a personal-best time of 21.90 in the 50m free, coming in ahead of Cielo and his time of 21.93. The United States' Gary Hall, Jr. rounded out the top three with a time of 22.29 and was followed by Auburn's Puninski as he finished fourth in 22.58.
Former Auburn swimmer George Bovell
, a 2004 Olympian for Trinidad & Tobago, also competed in the championship final and finished sixth with a time of 23.01.
In the 50m free preliminary on Saturday morning, Auburn swept the top three with Cielo in first, followed by Bousquet and Puninski.
Also competing at the meet on Saturday was former Tiger Eric Shanteau as he finished second in the 200m breaststroke with a time of 2:13.33. He finished behind current World record holder in the event, Brendan Hansen. Shanteau, a native of Lilburn Ga., trains with Longhorn Aquatics and is a hopeful for the U.S. Olympic Team in the breaststroke and individual medley events.
The Ohio Grand Prix is a three-day meet that is part of the Toyota Grand Prix Series. Taking place at the Bill and Mae McCorckle Aquatics Pavilion on the campus of Ohio State University, it will conclude on Sunday with the 200m back, 100m free, 200m fly, men's 1500m free and the 400m free relay.