The Boilermaker Aquatic Center has been Giordan Pogioli’s quest center for the last six years. The first-rate facility on the Purdue campus helped the 24-year-old from Peoria get to where he is today. That would be the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., site of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
The Boilermaker Aquatic Center has been Giordan Pogioli’s quest center for the last six years.
The first-rate facility on the Purdue campus helped the 24-year-old from Peoria get to where he is today. That would be the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., winter home of the Creighton Bluejays.
It’s the latest stop on a swimming odyssey that has taken Pogioli to World University Games in Izmir, Turkey, and Bangkok, Thailand, with an appearance at the short-course world championships in Shanghai, China, in between.
“I don’t think swimming has ever seen a venue like Omaha before,” Pogioli said before departing West Lafayette, Ind., for his second U.S. Olympic Trials. “They have a huge jumbotron up above the middle of the pool. Having a venue like that for like 16,000 fans is pretty intense.”
At stake, beginning today through next Sunday in the temporary indoor pool, are spots on the U.S. team that will compete in August at the Bejing Olympics.
For a breastroker such as Pogioli, an Illinois high school state champion as a Woodruff senior in 2002, that means having to finish first or second in the men’s 100-meter finals Monday night or the 200 final Thursday evening.
Talk about intense.
“There’s expectations, but I’m not going to put any undue pressure on myself,” Pogioli said. “I’ve got in the work, and I’m going to do everything I can to swim my best and just enjoy it.”
Pogioli’s program begins this morning with the 100 breast preliminaries.
The 200 breast prelims are Wednesday morning. Also participating in the 200 breast will be 15-year-old Matt Elliott of Peoria, who won the Illinois high school 100-yard breast title as a Richwoods freshman this past winter.
“Everything seems to be setting up fine,” Pogioli said. “I’ve been swimming well in practice and getting faster every day.”
Pogioli stayed at Purdue after completing his collegiate eligibility in 2006. Besides receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer graphics technology in 2007, he picked up a big-league training partner in Scott Usher, formerly of the University of Wyoming,
“It’s great having daily competition right there,” Pogioli said, referring to the 2004 Olympian in the 200 breast.
“It definitely keeps both of us on our toes.
“We’re just making sure we’re pushing ourselves daily and trying to keep up with the Texas boys and stay on top of the country’s rankings.”
Brendan Hansen of Austin, Texas, is the No. 1 seed in both breaststroke events with times of :59.13 (the world record) and 2:08.50 (the U.S. record).
The No. 2 seed in the 100 breast is Mark Gangloff of Charlotte, N.C., at 1:00.24. Second to Hansen in the 200 breast is his Longhorn Aquatics teammate, Eric Shanteau, at 2:10.59.
Pogioli’s personal bests of 1:02.29 and 2:13.16 rank 12th and fifth, respectively. He achieved both in mid-February at the Missouri Grand Prix.
Pogioli’s last meet before the Olympics Trials was the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational at the Qwest Center.
“Three weeks ago, everybody was in different areas of their training,” Pogioli said. “It was more just an idea of getting comfortable with the surroundings. But now everybody is ready to go.
“It’ll be exciting to see how everybody steps up.”
Gary Childs can be reached at 686-3204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.