La Salle's Szysko aiming to become Olympian
La Salle University’s Blase Szyszko is a swimming record-holder, the president of the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a very good student as an integrated science, business and technology major, and a good humanitarian who organized a dodgeball tournament to raise money for cancer research.
Now he hopes to become something else: an Olympian.
This week, the La Salle rising senior will compete at the United States Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Neb. The meet begins Monday, runs until July 2 and will determine which American swimmers will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London from July 27-Aug. 12.
Szyszko, who hails from nearby Bensalem, will swim in the 100-meter breaststroke Monday and the 200-meter breaststroke Thursday. He qualified for the 100 with a time of 1:04.68 at the Princeton Olympic Trials Qualifying Meet in March, and qualified for the 200 with a time of 2:20.72 at the Middle Atlantic Senior Championships at Bucknell in July.
Those times are well off the pace of Havertown native Brendan Hansen – a four-time Olympic medalist – and other of the nation’s premier breaststrokers, meaning Szyszko’s chances of earning a ticket to London are slim.
But just getting to the Olympic Trials is a major accomplishment for Szyszko, who won the 100 and 200 breaststroke in the Atlantic 10 championship this season for La Salle.
Brendan McHugh, who graduated from Penn in May, will join Szyszko in both of those events. If either advances past the heats, the semifinals of the 100 breast will take place Monday night and the finals Tuesday night. The 200 breast heats, meanwhile, are on Thursday morning with the semifinals that evening and the finals Friday evening.
McHugh is one of six past, future and current Penn swimmers who will be representing the Quakers in Omaha, the school’s best showing at Trials since 1992.
Rising Penn junior Rhoads Worster will compete in the 100 butterfly starting Saturday, and from the women’s program, rising junior Shelby Fortin will swim in the 400 freestyle heats on Tuesday.
In addition, three incoming Penn swimmers will join their future teammates at Trials. Bradley Wachenfeld (Basking Ridge, N.J.) will compete in the men's 400 freestyle Monday; Annie McCotter (Cherry Hill, N.J.) is in the women's 200 butterfly Thursday; and Chris Swanson (Tampa, Fla.) is in the field for the men's 1,500 freestyle next Sunday.Dave Zeitlin covers college sports for CSNPhilly.com Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.