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U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

Hansen needs no special effects

His 100-breaststroke win at U.S. trials gets him to Olympics; Vollmer earns spot.

June 27, 2012|Bill Shaikin
  • Brendan Hansen competes in the men's 100-meter breaststroke final at the U.S. Olympic trials on Tuesday.
Brendan Hansen competes in the men's 100-meter breaststroke final… (Al Bello / Getty Images )

OMAHA — Win your event at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, and you stand on an elevator that doubles as an awards podium. You rise from the bowels of the building, thousands of fans cheering as you come into view.

Before the elevator guy pushed the up button, Brendan Hansen lobbed him a question about special effects.

"Can I get a puff of smoke with this?" Hansen asked.

Hansen won the men's 100 breaststroke Tuesday, one of six swimmers to earn an Olympic spot on the day. Hansen, who leans toward the serious side of life, then decided the time had come to let his countrymen know the personalities of the men's swimming team extended beyond Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

"I don't have a grill in my mouth," Hansen said. "I don't have eight gold medals."

Hansen could not get a puff of smoke either. So he improvised, with a podium pose he said was supposed to look like a pro wrestler taking a knee and extending his arms with the University of Texas salute.

"I'm sure my family will be very embarrassed," Hansen said.

Embarrassed, maybe. Proud, yes.

Hansen, who finished second in the 100 breaststroke in the 2004 Olympics and fourth in 2008, earned another shot at gold with the victory at trials. Eric Shanteau, who competed in the 2008 Games after a diagnosis of testicular cancer, finished second to Hansen and also made the Olympic team.

Dana Vollmer won the women's 100 butterfly, albeit in a slightly slower time than the American record she set in Monday's semifinals. Nonetheless, her three swims in the event -- preliminaries, semifinals and finals -- all produced times that no other swimmer in the world has matched this year.

"Just making a statement that I don't plan to get beat in that event," Vollmer said, "and bringing that into London."

Claire Donahue, who finished 32nd in this event at the 2008 trials, finished second to join Vollmer on the Olympic team.

Allison Schmitt won the women's 400 free, with the second and final Olympic spot in the event earned by Chloe Sutton, who lives in Ladera Ranch.

Sutton, who placed 19th in this event at the 2008 trials, broke down in tears as she spoke with reporters. She is 20, and for a person of her age she took what might be called extreme measures to avoid hearing or thinking about what her chances might be.

"I've been off Twitter and I've been off Facebook for the past month or so," Sutton said.

Or, as her Twitter timeline indicated, five days. In this era of instant communication, five days without tweets sure can seem like a month.

She hopped back onto Twitter on Tuesday night, in capital letters and exclamation points.

Her first post-race tweet: I'M GOING TO THE OLYMPICS!!!!!!! :)

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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