Columbus, Ohio—Olympic Trials are happening all around the world in preparation for this summer’s Olympic Games, and a Buckeye swimmer just finished up her weekend attempting to qualify for the German national team.
Aliena Schmidtke, a fifth year senior at Ohio State whose NCAA eligibility expired at the end of the 2014-15 season, had a very impressive weekend in Berlin despite not qualifying for Rio.
“I cannot tell you how incredibly proud I am of Aliena,” said head coach Bill Dorenkott. “She put it all on the line and performed like a champion under pressure. She has come a long way in her time as a Buckeye and will leave here as one of the most improved swimmers in the history of our program. Her talent is matched by her toughness and willingness to do the things that being elite requires.”
Hailing from Magdeburg, Germany, Schmidtke swam in both the 50 and 100 butterfly at Germany’s National Championships, finishing second in both races. Her time of 26.08 in the 50 fly was under the German national record time of 26.33 and is also the 9th-fastest time in the world. In the 100 fly she posted times of 58.48 in prelims and 58.57 in the finals, which are both personal bests and put her among the 30-fastest swimmers in the world in that event. Her prelim time was well under the FINA A cut time, which is required for automatic entry into the Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, the German Swimming Federation has a unique qualifying process that includes the following stipulations:
- Be at or under a cut time for prelims (100 fly was 58.7)
- Be at or under a time standard in finals (100 fly was 58.3)
- Swim another competition within 4 weeks in which the athlete is within 1.5% of their time at German Trials
Because of the differences in qualifying, Schmidtke finds herself outside of the “long list” that contains Germany’s current Olympic hopefuls.
“The result is a tough pill to swallow,” said Dorenkott. “But, we knew the German qualifying process before we got on the plane. While I do not agree with leaving one of the top improving swimmers in the world at home, it is not my decision.”
The Ohio State record holder in the long course 100 fly, Schmidtke still has plenty to celebrate both in and out of the pool in 2016. Earlier this year she took gold at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Orlando in the 100 fly, and she wrapped up her degree in Biology that will pair nicely with her degree in Molecular Genetics that she previously earned.
As a Buckeye she made two NCAA Championships appearances and she also made a trip while a member of the New Mexico State swimming program, becoming the second swimmer ever from that university to earn a spot at NCAA’s. She also held the 100 fly record before Liz Li broke it earlier this year.
“Our program and athletes are moving into upper echelon of swimming,” Dorenkott said of Ohio State swimming. “Coaches and athletes are taking note. We owe this to young people like Aliena who have the courage to pursue excellence as a Buckeye. Aliena has earned a great deal of respect over the past four years because of the person she has become. She is a very special woman.”
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