Another Tiger bound for Olympics

OMAHA, Neb. – Former Auburn swimmer Micah Lawrence became the 13th current or former Auburn swimmer to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics with a runner-up finish in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Former Auburn swimmer Micah Lawrence

In addition, former Tiger Tyler McGill and incoming freshman Jillian Vitarius advanced to Sunday’s finals in their respective events – McGill in the men’s 100 butterfly and Vitarius in the women’s 200 backstroke – before a sellout crowd of 14,335 fans at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center.

Lawrence, who has spent the past year training under former Auburn coach David Marsh at SwimMAC Carolina, posted a time of 2:23.03, a lifetime-best mark and the fastest time in Auburn history. She was two seconds behind winner Rebecca Soni and almost two full seconds ahead of the third-place finisher, Andrea Kropp.

“I knew I was going to be really excited for that race,” Lawrence said. “Coach told me to concentrate on my line that first 100, just go out really smoothly, then bring it back that last 100. That’s been our plan the whole time I’ve been with him. I was hopeful (of making the team), but I know the Olympic Trials can always bring out the best (in everyone else).”

Lawrence is the second former Auburn swimmer to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team at this week’s Trials, joining 2006 graduate Eric Shanteau (men’s 100 breaststroke).

Seeded second coming into the Trials and ranked third in the world, McGill will swim in the finals of the men’s 100 butterfly tomorrow night. As in preliminaries, he posted the second-fastest time of the semifinals with a 51.88 – just .01 slower than his prelim time – to earn the second seed in tomorrow’s final, right behind world record-holder Michael Phelps. Phelps, meanwhile, swam the fastest time in the world this year in the second heat, a 51.35.

“I wish I had made a better (effort), to be honest,” McGill said. “I want to be fast for tomorrow. That’s the only goal. I know what it’s going to take to be in position to go to London, and 51.8 probably won’t be it. I’ve got to find a way to go faster.”

Vitarius, who signed with the Tigers in November, swam the third-fastest time in the 200m backstroke by anyone with Auburn ties in history, clocking a 2:11.96 in the first semifinal heat to finish fifth overall and secure her spot in the final. It was a massive improvement for the Kingwood, Texas, native – she was nearly two full seconds faster in the semifinal than in her preliminary swim this morning.

In addition, senior Karl Krug wrapped up his Auburn career with a 16th-place finish in the 50 freestyle semifinals. His time of 22.74 was a hair slower than his preliminary time of 22.68.

Sunday’s finals action gets under way at 7 p.m. with a live national broadcast on NBC.

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