July 18, 2012
AUBURN - On July 1, former Auburn swimmer Tyler McGill fulfilled a lifelong dream. After finishing the 100-meter butterfly in 51.32 seconds, McGill earned his first ever Olympic berth after edging out Ryan Lochte to finish in second place.
"I came out here with a purpose," McGill said after the race. "The goal was to go to London. It wasn't anything I didn't expect to do. I had to make a decision that I wanted to be an Olympian. I was ready to swim, and I was ready to perform the way I did."
During his time on the Plains, McGill was a major contributor in keeping the Auburn's winning tradition alive as he was a member of the 2007 and 2009 National Championship teams. McGill swam on NCAA champion 400 freestyle and medley relays while also taking second in the 100 butterfly in 2009.
"After we lost the National Championship in my sophomore season, it fueled the fire to get back there," the 16-time All-American said. "Our mentality became, `this is Auburn University, we have won five out of the last six National Championships, and we need to be better.' For us in 2009, we made it a very special year. It was an honor to bring that trophy and banner back to Auburn, because that is where that belongs."
McGill made his first splash on the international scene in 2009 at the World Championships where he won gold in the 400-meter medley relay, and again at the 2010 Short Course World Championships. The Champaign, Ill., native also became a silver medalist in the 100 fly at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 USA Swimming National Championships.
"Swimming in the World Championships is amazing because there is no better honor than to represent your country," McGill said. "Also, it is a different ballgame. You are around the fastest people in the world, and in 2009, I don't think I was ready for that. We are in a bubble here in the United States, because we don't get to see the top swimmers in the world all the time. For me, going to Rome in 2009, I got a little awestruck, but it was important for me to take what I did there and move forward with it."
Using his experience from the World Championships and the U.S. Swimming Trials, McGill learned valuable lessons that will help him during the Summer Games.
"I have more confidence in myself, and I am more experienced," McGill said. "I have gone through the ups and the downs. I have had good seasons and seasons where I needed to get better.