Bowling Green, Ky. — Three Western Kentucky University swimmers will participate in the Olympic Trials next week in Omaha, Neb., for a chance to represent the United States at the 2008 Bejing Olympics — former four-time Sun Belt Conference backstroke champion Francis Gilmore, Claire Donahue and Brittany Doss.
“This is a great way for Francis, who is a four-time SBC champion to end his career on the Hill,” stated head coach Bruce Marchionda.
Gilmore — who recently finished his historic collegiate career — will swim in the 100 meter backstroke. In addition to being a four-time SBC champ, the Daphne, Ala., native ranks second all-time at WKU in both the 100 yard and 200 yard backstroke. He is a member of the school-record-setting 200 yard medley relay team which broke the old standard at the 2008 Sun Belt Conference championships. Gilmore holds the Bill Powell Natatorium record in the 200 yard backstroke and is also a member of the 200 yard medley relay team which set the pool record.
“Claire just continues to get better each day. Her time of 1:00.8 in the 100 meter butterfly places her among the elite swimmers in the country,” said Marchionda. “She is very coachable and has been able to transition to college swimming better then anyone I have coached. Being just a freshman, we are very excited about the future for this Lady Topper.”
Donahue started off her career on the Hill with a bang. She broke the school record in the 100 yard and 200 yard butterfly — when it counted the most — at the SBC championships. She was also a member of the 200 yard and 400 yard medley relay teams that broke the university’s old standard. During the conference championship, the Lenoir City, Tenn., native broke the SBC ’s mark in the 100 and 200 Fly and took the titles in both events and helped the Lady Toppers collect their sixth title in eight years.
“I am extremely pleased with Brittany’s performance. Her time in the 100 meter breaststroke placed her almost a full second under the qualifying time,” stated assistant coach Rita Kalmikova. “That amount of improvement, in only 13 weeks, really shows how much work and dedication Brittany put into her training. The experience of the Olympic Trials is a successful end to her freshman year and a good transition into her second year. With three seasons left in her collegiate career, her potential is just staggering.
Doss took the title in the 100 yard breaststroke, breaking the school record in the process, at the SBC championships. She also finished fourth in the 200 yard breaststroke. She was a member of the SBC and WKU record-breaking team in both the 200 yard and 400 yard medley relay. The Sugar Grove, Ill., native ranks at the top of the Lady Topper record books in the 100 breast and is third in the 200 breast.
Donahue will be up first to represent WKU with her 100 meter fly race coming on Sunday. She will have two days off before another shot comes on Wednesday for the 200 meter fly. Doss and Gilmore will both look to qualify for the Olympic squad on Monday.