June 23, 2016
BOISE, Idaho - Boise State will have a trio of swimmers competing at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials beginning this Sunday (June 26) in Omaha, Neb. Graduated senior Sam Wicks, junior Brittany Aoyama and sophomore Emma Chard will all vie for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team ahead of the 2016 Rio Games.
The event will run from June 26-July 3 with heats beginning each day at 9 a.m. MT and finals scheduled for 5:45 p.m. MT. The trials will be broadcast exclusively across NBC platforms and mobile platforms. Prelims can be watched live on the NBC Sports Extra app, with prelims highlights broadcast on NBC Sports Network in the early evening and finals broadcast on NBC beginning at 6 p.m. MT each night.
"The event itself is probably the highlight in a swimmer's career because even if you make the Olympic team, some of the international events are very sterile and controlled, whereas at trials the fastest American swimmers are all congregated and it's really a celebration of USA Swimming and your membership," said Boise State head coach Jeremy Kipp. "This event shows everyone what the U.S. team is capable of doing. As intense as the NCAA Championships are, I think the Olympic Trials adds just that combination of men's swimming, women's swimming and the Olympic ideals that make competition truly special."
Wicks, Aoyama and Chard's participation at the trials brings the all-time total of Boise State swimmers competing at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to eight. Five former Broncos, Amber Boucher, Heather Harper, Rachel Heaney, Chelsea Miller and Stephanie North, competed at the event in 2012.
Aoyama will have a busy week in Omaha, competing in the 100-meter butterfly (qualifying time - 1:00.48) along with three freestyle events: the 50 free (25.99), 100 free (56.30) and 200 free (2:02.38). Wicks will compete in the 100-meter backstroke (1:02.59) while Chard will swim in the 200 free (2:02.12).
Aoyama will also be the first Bronco into the pool for competition at the trials, swimming the 100 fly Sunday. She and Chard will swim the 200 free Tuesday (June 28) while Aoyama competes in the 100 free Thursday (June 30) and the 50 free Saturday (July 2). Wicks will swim in the 100 back Monday (June 27).
The U.S. trials will provide a solid opportunity and once-in-a-lifetime experience for each of the swimmers at different points of their careers. For Wicks, the trials will mark the end of a decorated career in which she captured a Mountain West team title (2014), claimed six Mountain West event titles (five in 2016) and was named Mountain West Swimmer of the Year and the recipient of the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Senior Award at the 2016 Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships.
"For each swimmer the [trials] experience is a little different. For Sam, it's the final achievement and race of her career, and for her to go out at the Olympic Trials is as much of a storybook ending as you can write for this career," said Kipp. "If things go well for her and she gets in the right frame of mind I think she can make a secondary swim and be a top-16 performer. But she'll go in with no pressure and enjoy every minute."
Aoyama, winner of five Mountain West event titles in 2016 and seven for her career, can use the trials as a chance to bridge a strong junior year and what could be a spectacular senior season in 2016-17.
"For Brittany, she's going to be team captain this next season and is one of our expected high-performing seniors," Kipp said. "Next week sets her up for a successful senior year. When she hits trials and the realization that she has one more year, it'll be the beginning of a special year. Two weeks ago she qualified in three more freestyle events, and she's in the best form of her career so its exciting to see what she'll do in all four events."
Chard enjoyed a breakout sophomore season for the Broncos in 2015-16, claiming three Mountain West event titles including one in the 200-yard freestyle. She also made her NCAA Championships debut, swimming in five events.
"For Emma, she's the new kid on the block. After having such a big season in her career, this marks the next big phase for her and will set her up well for the next two years," Kipp noted. "Her [200 free] time would've qualified top-eight at the British trials, so this could set her up to be part of the British international teams in the future."
Overall, the Bronco trio represents the next step in the continued ascension of Boise State swimming and diving on the national scene. After dominating the swimming events at the 2016 Mountain West Championships, winning eight events and setting eight school records and three NCAA A cuts, the Broncos sent a contingent to the NCAA Championships in Atlanta to compete in nine events.
"If you're a recruit looking at Boise State, you'll see all three phases for what your potential is here," Kipp said. "Emma is making a huge jump in her sophomore year, Brittany is hitting her stride, and Sam is finishing her career on a high note with her success translating into a berth at trials. In terms of our team, it sets the bar high for standards in the summer and long-course training and competition. It helps establish expectations of our Broncos at the trials and at U.S. Nationals, and we should take a lot of pride in that because this is a tough accomplishment."