Courtesy of Missouri State Sports Information
LONDON - Missouri State incoming freshman Uvis Kalnins became the third men's swimmer in Missouri State history to compete at the Summer Olympics on Tuesday (July 31), representing his native country of Latvia in the 100-meter freestyle.
“Before the race, he told me it was his goal to go a lifetime best,” head swimming & diving coach Dave Collins said. “It is really impressive whenever you can manage your nerves on the big stage and put together your fastest race.”
Tuesday morning marked the culmination of Kalnins' years of training, mental preparation and excitement for his Olympic debut at the London 2012 Summer Games. The incoming freshman turned in a personal best (49.96) on day four of the swimming prelims at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park. He registered the second fastest time in heat four and also broke the 50-second barrier for the first time in his career. One of the most impressive parts of his performance was that he recorded the heat's fastest split on the back half of the race (25.57).
The freestyle specialist, who arrives on campus in August, finished 30th out of 56 participants. Only the top 16 finishers from this morning's prelims qualify for the semifinals. The 16th-place finisher was Shaune Fraser of the Cayman Islands with a time of 48.99, less than a second faster than Kalnins' swim.
United States sprinter Nathan Adrian registered the fastest time in the preliminary heats (48.19) on Tuesday and will enter the semifinals as the top seed.
“The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of our sport and for an athlete to experience competition at that level is incredible,” head swimming coach Dave Collins said. “He has put himself in a great position to continue swimming at an elite level.”
An interesting tidbit: in the top five heats of the 100 free, the average age among the 36 competitors was 24 years old. At age 18, Kalnins was the youngest athlete to finish in the top 30.
To watch a replay of Kalnins' performance in heat four of the 100-meter freestyle, log on to NBCOlympics.com
and fast forward to the 0:11:20 mark.