June 29, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. - Upsetting heavy favorites Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen, UC Davis alumnus and current volunteer assistant coach Scott Weltz stormed to a winning time of 2 minutes, 9:01 seconds in the final heat of the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at the CenturyLink Center. The victory qualifies him for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The 25-year-old San Jose, Calif. native was fifth in the eight-man field at the midway point of the race, posting a 100-meter split of 1:03.42. He surged into second place behind Shanteau, the current American record-holder in the event, then delivered a blistering final stretch of 33.13 seconds.
"My whole body was kind of tingling and I was like, `I'm feeling it and something is different, this is the time,"' Weltz said to the Associated Press after the race. "I was smiling behind the blocks, I wasn't nervous. I felt great going into it."
Placing second was Clark Burckle, another relative surprise London qualifier. Shanteau placed third at 2:10.05 and Hansen fell to fourth with a time of 2:10.25. Weltz entered the finals as the No. 4 seed, having won a relatively slow first semifinal on Thurday night at 2:10.99.
Friday's 200 breast final was actually Weltz' second competition of the day. He swam in the prelimaries of the 200 individual medley, placing fifth in his heat and 38th overall with a 2:04.84. This marked his third event of the Trials. Weltz had finished fourth in the 100 breast earlier in the week, exceeding his own expectations.
Weltz won Big West Conference Male Athlete of the Year honors in both 2009 and 2010. He was also co-winner of the 2010 Colby E. "Babe" Slater Award as UC Davis' outstanding male athlete of the year. The Slater award is named for the university's first Olympian, a Clarksville native who captured gold medals in rugby in 1920 and 1924.
Weltz' accomplishment comes on the heels of Kim Conley's qualification at the Olympic track trials in Eugene Thurday night. The former Aggie standout and current assistant coach made the London cut with her dramatic third-place finish in the 5,000-meter run at Hayward Field less than 24 hours prior to Weltz' win.