St. Augustine Prep graduate Brendan McHugh barely missed being a surprise qualifier Monday night for the 100-meter breaststroke final at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
McHugh, 22, finished fourth in the second of two semifinal heats but 10th overall among the 16 swimmers in the semifinals. The top eight qualified for tonight's final, and the top three in that race will qualify for the Olympics.
“I tried to make the day fun, but I fell a little short,” McHugh said in quotes provided by USA Swimming.
McHugh swam the semifinal in 1 minute, 1.04 seconds - 1.33 seconds behind first-place Brandeon Hansen but only 0.21 out of eighth place.
McHugh, from the Sicklerville section of Winslow Township, Camden County, was seeded ninth in the semifinals after winning the 12th of 15 preliminary heats in 1:01.30. That was significantly faster than his qualifying time of 1:03.11, which had him ranked 40th among 141 swimmers heading into the preliminaries.
He will compete in the 200 breaststroke on Thursday.
“It’s been pretty good so far,” McHugh said of his first Olympic Trials experience. “(The preliminary race was) my best time.”
McHugh was the 2008 Press Co-Swimmer of the Year as a senior, when he won the 100 breaststroke at the Meet of Champions for the third year in a row.
He went on to star at the University of Pennsylvania, where he set school records in six individual events and three relays. This year, McHugh was named honorable-mention All-American in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, finishing 14th in each event at the NCAA Division I championships.
He was the first Penn swimmer ever to reach the semifinals at the Olympic Trials.
Joyce in 400 IM: McHugh's former Prep teammate, 2007 graduate Mike Joyce, finished 28th in the 400 individual medley preliminaries, failing to qualify for the semifinals.
Joyce's time of 4:25.92 was 15.26 seconds behind winner Ryan Lochte and 6.59 out of eighth place, the cutoff for the final. There were no semifinals.