Bryan Avery Looking Forward to the US Olympic Trials
May 6, 2008
When the 2008 United States Olympic Trials kick off in late June, Air Force rising senior Bryan Avery will be among the group contending for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for Avery, who is entering what looks to be the finest year of his competitive swimming career.
"Bryan is set to do some incredible things this summer and next season," comments Air Force head coach Rob Clayton, "He has continued to get faster and faster, and should reach the climax of a terrific swimming career this next year. I'm excited to watch what he will do in Omaha and during his senior season."
Unlike 2007 graduates Chris Knaute and Paul Parmenter--who delayed pilot training to participate in the Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP)--Avery intends to enter pilot training upon graduation.
While Avery realizes that his days in the pool will likely come to an end after next season, the opportunities that he has been afforded as a member of the Air Force program have been immeasurable. Attending the Academy is certainly not an easy task when it comes to balancing academic, military and athletic commitments. But the team bond, one of the things that struck Avery while he was being recruited, has helped him make the most of his time here.
"It is definitely different [than other collegiate programs]," said Avery. "But I never see any of the guys asking for special treatment or anything. It's a very disciplined, grown-up team. I'm very proud to be a part of that and now leading that. It's just people swimming and doing what they want because they love it and want to get better at it. Nobody is forced to be here, and the guys all still give 110 percent."
With the added motivation of his teammates, Avery has found an environment in which he could make his dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trials both a possibility and a reality.
"Bryan has improved tremendously during his three years in the program," said Clayton. "He comes to practice every day, ready to work as hard as he can to get better."
Certainly, Avery has seen that improvement himself. He has gotten stronger over the past three seasons, while also working a great deal on his technique. His turns, a self-described weakness when he arrived at the Academy, have become more effective. The great strides have come through hard work, as Avery's journey has been anything but easy.
After a solid start to his freshman campaign, Avery suffered an ear infection that kept him out of the water for several weeks. Although he returned to compete at the conference meet that year, his performance was hampered somewhat by the missed training. However, Avery had a spectacular sophomore season, earning his first all-conference accolades by placing second in the 200 freestyle at the Mountain West Conference Championships.
His junior season has been even more impressive, as he finished as the MWC runner-up in the 200 free for a second-straight season and also broke the Academy's record in the 100 fly. He wrapped up the year at the All-American Long Course Championships in Austin, Texas, where he set the pace for the Falcons by securing an Olympic Trial qualifying time in the 100 butterfly. Two other teammates, Justin Day and Benjamin Gunn, followed suit and will join Avery in Omaha this summer.
Now, with his qualifying mark secured, a goal he has pursued in earnest for the past year, Avery will have the opportunity to vie for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. It will set up the final year of his career as a Falcon, as he hopes to lead the team to greatness as its captain.
"It's an honor [to be named captain]," said Avery. "I just hope I can set an example for the guys and lead the team in a good direction." Just as he was motivated by former Air Force swimmer Parmenter, currently a member of the WCAP, Avery looks to provide leadership and inspiration to his current teammates.
Avery's ambitions for next season--for himself and his teammates--are high. While he secured an NCAA `B' cut in both the 200 free and 100 fly this season, Avery hopes to secure some NCAA `A' qualifying times and compete in the national championships for the first time. He also aspires to win a few conference titles, after coming so close each of the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Avery believes that the rest of the team will continue to improve and that the 2008-09 will bring even more success for the Falcons.
"Everybody, across the board, was having lifetime bests, great swims this year," said Avery. "I think, realistically, that will carry through next year. Everybody's already training hard right now in their off-season. We're going to be a lot better team and we're going to be tough to beat next year. It's going to be exciting."
That excitement will start this summer for Avery, Day and Gunn at the US Olympic Trials, which will take place June 29-July 6 in Omaha, Neb. For more information on the Trials, visit www.usaswimming.org.