Douglass sets U.S. mark, qualifies for Olympic Trials

Douglass sets U.S. mark, qualifies for Olympic Trials


Douglass sets U.S. mark, qualifies for Olympic Trials


Carle Fierro was having trouble reading the results board. The sun on this particularly hot Texas day was creating too much glare.

Kate Douglass, who set a national record for 13-year-olds in the 50-meter freestyle

Kate Douglass, who set a national record for 13-year-olds in the 50-meter freestyle

But it looked like her swimmer, Kate Douglass, had won the 50 freestyle in 25.80 seconds.

The Westchester Aquatics Club owner and coach did a double take, then asked someone to lend a second set of eyes to the board.

And, indeed, it read 25.80, a time that not only qualified Douglass for her second event at next year’s U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials but was also the fastest ever by any 13-year-old American girl in the 50 free.

The clocking, recorded at the Speedo Junior National Championships in San Antonio, was also the fourth fastest ever for 13- and 14-year-olds. (Four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, 20, holds the record at 25.23.)

Fierro, who first coached the “all-legs”, 5-foot-6, 94-pound Douglass when she was 7 years old and both were with the Badger Swim Club, had planned to enter her in the 100 breaststroke but, finding that booked, registered her in Monday’s 50.

“I always believe in divine intervention,” said Fierro, who began the 250-swimmer Westchester Aquatics Club in 2010.  

There was much waiting around in oppressive heat for the 50, one of the last events.

“I said, ‘Just win the heat and we’ll go get ice cream,’ ” recalled Fierro, who told her young swimmer if she held her breath the last 10 yards, she’d have a good shot at the Trials qualifying time.

“I felt really fast,” said Douglass, who’ll be a freshman at Pelham High School this fall.

Douglass’s previous best in the event was 26.58. She’ll try to better her 25.80 prior to next June’s Olympic Trials, which will be in Nebraska.

Douglass earlier qualified for the trials in the 200 breaststroke and she’ll attempt to also qualify in the 100 breast, 100 free and 200 individual medley. On Thursday, she broke the Westchester County Swimming and Diving Championships record for girls 14-and-under in the 100 breast, clocking 1:06.67.

Fierro, whose swimmers train indoors at the College of New Rochelle and SUNY-Purchase, has had them in Westchester County’s Saxon Woods pool this summer, which she said is a positive because, at 44 1/2 yards, it’s much closer in size to the Olympic-distance 50-meter pools than the smaller indoor facilities.

Noting that Douglass has always been “very coachable,” Fierro said, “I never put limits on her. She has so much talent.

“I just feel blessed God put her on my team,” Fierro said. “I felt it’s her path and I’m just kind of guiding her.”

Douglass, who collected on that promised ice cream, will have lots of local company in Nebraska.

The Badger Swim Club alone will send 12 swimmers and one alum to the trials, including seven from the local area.

SUNY-Buffalo swimmer Oliver Patrouch of Hartsdale qualified in the 50 free in 23.25 Monday.

Earlier this summer, Harrison’s Spencer Lafata, a Fordham Prep student, swam 15:48.77 to qualify in the 1,500-meter free and, at another meet, Scarsdale’s Brian Hogan, who swims for Yale, cloacked 15:48.06 to qualify in the same event.

Three national team members, who are from the Badger team, have also qualified.

Bronxville’s Patrick Conaton, who swims for Stanford University, will compete in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke; Anina Lund of Purchase has qualified in the 400- and 800-meter free; and Ryan Feeley, a former All-American at Michigan from Rye, who will make his third appearance at the Trials and who earlier this summer captured a silver medal at the Pan-American Games, will compete in the 400- and 1,500-meter free.

Former Badger and Yonkers resident Alex Gianino, who now lives in North Carolina, has qualified for the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter individual medley.

Empire Swimming’s Shane McNamara, 19, of Tappan, who recently finished his freshman year at Harvard, will compete in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

“He’s smart. He’s willing to do extra work,” said coach Ilan Noach, who runs Empire, which he began eight years ago. “Our goal is for him to continue moving forward.”

Also going to the Trials will be Valley Cottage’s Carly Cummings, 16, (200 and 400 M) and New Rochelle’s Emily Escobedo, 19, (200 breaststroke), who both compete for the Condor Swim Club.

Escobedo swims for the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Cummings, who’ll be a junior at Nyack High School this fall, has swimming in her genes, with her dad, Craig, and uncle Christopher Cummings both participating in the Olympic Trials in the 1980s.

“My goal has always been to get to the Olympic Trials,” Cummings said, explaining she’ll look to gain experience to improve against older swimmers.

Twitter: @HaggertyNancy


More USA TODAY High School Sports
Douglass sets U.S. mark, qualifies for Olympic Trials
I found this story on USA TODAY High School Sports and wanted to share it with you: %link% For more high school stories, stats and videos, visit