Starting to Finish, Herrmann Swims 100 Breast at Olympic Trials
OMAHA – The strong finish to Danielle Herrmann’s career added an impressive start to a growing list of accomplishments. The former Kansas swimmer sprinted out to a 32.60 over the first 50-meters in the 100 breaststroke before posting a 1:11.81 and finishing just inside the top-80 at the US Olympic Trials during Monday morning’s preliminaries at CenturyLink Center.
Herrmann, a two-time NCAA participant who swam at KU from 2005-09, led her heat at the midpoint of the race with the 35th-fastest first 50 meters, but lost her momentum in the final quarter-length of the pool to finish ninth in heat No. 7. She finished 78th overall, improving from her 2012 Olympic Trials performance when she placed outside the top-100. The finals, determining the two individuals who would join Team USA for the Rio Olympics, were scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. on NBC.
“For me, the first 50 is always my best 50,” Herrmann said. “I’ve always had trouble building my speed so I knew I had to go out there fast. I probably went out a little bit fast, put a a little more effort than I wanted in for the first 50. Overall, I’m happy with the race.
“In 2012 in the 100 breaststroke I think I finished 105th or 109th, so my goal was to come in, get a best time and finish higher than that. I didn’t get a best time, but I finished higher than I did last time, so I’ll take it.”
A relative old-timer in the sport – she was one of only three swimmers of 130 in the event field born before 1990 – the performance continued a late surge by the 28-year-old as she heads into the final events of her career. Herrmann swam lifetime bests at 2015 USA Winter Nationals while finishing fourth and may call this year’s short course nationals her final meet.
Until then, Herrmann is enjoying every moment, like earlier in the week when she had a chance to get dinner with Kansas coaches Clark Campbell and Jen Betz, and current Jayhawk swimmers Chelsie Miller and Libby Walker, who opened competition Sunday with 400-meter individual medley swims.
“It’s so cool to be able to come to meets like this and get to hang out with Clark and Jen – Chelsie and Libby are always a good time,” Herrmann, who spent time as a volunteer assistant coach at Kansas while finishing her pharmacy degree, said. “At nationals I got to see them too. I always get a little more excited, and swim a little bit faster when I get to be around the KU team as well.”
Hermann tried retirement once, following the 2012 Olympic Trials, but workouts with her boyfriend and success in master’s swimming near her home in Fresno, California, renewed her interest in competing. Herrmann has completed her pharmacy residency and works as a clinical pharmacist at Children’s Hospital Central California. She swam as a member of Clovis Swim Club Monday in front of 13,117 strangers, but Campbell and the Jayhawks were there to cheer her on.
“It’s so fun to see,” Campbell said. “She’s still doing best times and that’s what this sport is all about and she’d doing it well past her collegiate career. She’s really got it wired in and we’re so proud of her.
“It’s neat to see multi-generational Jayhawks here at the meet and it bodes well on both ends. We have people that still love the sport and still compete, and we have people that are going to come in and represent. We can’t wait until we see our future, coming up Tuesday.”
Three of the five total swimmers with Kansas connections have taken to the water inside CenturyLink Center with signee Jenny Nussbaum next to join the fray. She’ll swim the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday. Haley Downey, another Kansas signee, will compete later in the week.
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