BALTIMORE, Md. – Three UMBC swimming and diving athletes have qualified for their respective country's Olympic Trials and will be attempting to join the national team for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games to be held in London, England.
Junior Mohamed Hussein (Cairo, Egypt/Victory College) has already made the Egyptian squad for the 100-meter freestyle and will swim again in May to attempt to qualify for more events. This past weekend in Washington, D.C. Hussein broke Egypt's national record in the 200 IM with a time of 2:05.49.
Hussein is the second Retriever to swimmer to ever qualify for the Olympic Games, after Mehdi Addadi competed for Algeria in the 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly at the 2000 Summer Games held in Sydney, Australia.
"Mohamed is a very deserving athlete of this opportunity," said UMBC head coach Chad Cradock. "He puts a lot into each practice every day and we're excited for his accomplishments."
Cradock reached this stage in the qualifying process himself back in 1996. The Barrie, Ontario native placed fifth in the 400m free and eighth in the mile during the Canadian Olympic Trials in preparation for the Summer Games held in Atlanta.
At the 2012 America East Championships, Hussein won three individual gold medals and broke the conference and pool record in the 100-yd. backstroke (48.92), while earning Most Outstanding Male Swimmer honors. In addition, Hussein set the meet, pool and UMBC school record in the 200 IM (1:47.64) while breaking the school record in the 200 back (1:46.70). Also, while helping the 400-yd. medley relay team capture a silver medal, Hussein broke the school record with his 100 back split of 48.66.
During UMBC's dual meet season, the mid-year transfer won eight individual events even though he only competed in three meets for the Retrievers.
Attempting to make the South African team, junior Pierre De Waal (Pretoria, South Africa/Tuks Sport/Cleveland State) will fly back to his home country on April 13 for their Olympic Trials. De Waal will compete for a spot in the 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle events, in addition to his best event, the 200m butterfly.
"South Africa is a fast country," Cradock said. "But Pierre is right up there and has a shot to make it to London."
De Waal won three gold medals at the conference meet back in February, taking the top prize in the 200 and 500-yd. free events, while besting the field by over a second in the 200 fly (1:46.68) en route to breaking the meet, pool and UMBC records in the event.
Perhaps the most unlikely contender comes from the United States of America. Two years after convincing Cradock to give him a walk-on spot at UMBC, sophomore Patrick Husson (Camp Springs, Md./DeMatha) has qualified for the US Olympic Trials for the 200m breaststroke, while missing the cut for the 100m breast event by less than one second. The time trial meet will be held in June with the top two swimmers, out of a field of over 100 athletes, making the cut for London.
"Patrick is probably the most unlikely candidate for this spot," said coach Cradock. "But through his drive, he has earned this chance and we're excited for him as he travels on this journey."
Coming to UMBC in the fall of 2007, Husson was not recruited by any colleges while in high school. He came to Baltimore mainly for the academic possibilities at UMBC, but did not want to give up swimming. Talking to Cradock immediately at the start of his freshman year, Husson earned a one-month trial period to show the coaches he had what it takes to be on the Retriever squad. With no promises made, Husson worked for the month period, and in early October he was rewarded with what he coveted, a spot on the UMBC roster.
The 2012 Olympic Summer Games held in London will begin with an Opening Ceremony on July 27. The swimming portion of the Games will be held at the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park and will run from Sat., July 28 through Sat., Aug. 4. Thirty-four events will award medals with a total 950 athletes competing for the awards.