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Honeymoon trip at stake for Olympic champion Grevers

"That's added pressure," says Olympic champion backstroker

By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter

8:20 PM CDT, June 27, 2013

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INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Grevers is hoping for a honeymoon in Spain.

Now he is feeling some pressure to make sure that happens.

Grevers, reigning Olympic champion in the 100-meter backstroke, needs to make the top two in that event at the U.S. Championships Friday to assure himself of a place on the U.S. team that will compete at the World Championships next month in Barcelona.

“We haven’t had an official honeymoon yet because of swimming,” said Grevers, married April 6 to former swimmer Annie Chandler.  “So if I could make the world team, we could extend our stay for a week or so, maybe longer.  That’s added pressure.”

Grevers, of Lake Forest, still could make the team as a relay swimmer by having finished sixth in the 100 free.  But that is the least important of the five selection criteria.

He also could have achieved the No. 3 criterion by winning Thursday’s 50 back.  But he was second to David Plummer.

If Grevers does get on the team in the 100 back, he could wind up swimming several events at worlds.

“It’s all-or-nothing,” he said with a laugh.  “As soon as I make it, it will be a relief.”

*Christine Magnuson wasn’t sure she would swim the evening race in the 100-meter butterfly, even though it is the event in which she won two 2008 Olympic silver medals – one on the medley relay.

At 27, Magnuson has decided to concentrate on the shortest freestyle race, the 50, in which she missed the 2012 Olympic team by an agonizing .05 seconds.  That race is Saturday.

“I just started putting too much pressure on the 100 fly, and it stopped being fun,” she said.  “When something stops being fun, you should change it.”

But Magnuson, from Tinley Park, qualified for Thursday’s “A” final in the 100 fly, so she took on the event for what could be the last time, finishing fifth in 59.30 seconds as Olympic champion Dana Vollmer won in 57.53.

Magnuson won the 50 butterfly Wednesday, all but assuring herself of a swim at the worlds.

All 50-meter races other than freestyle are not on the Olympic program.

*It has been a rocky week so far for Tribune prep athlete of the year Olivia Smoliga of Glenview.  She was 27th in Tuesday’s prelims of the 100 free and then missed Thursday’s “A” final in the 50 backstroke by finishing 13th in the morning prelims with a 29.28, well off her personal best 28.34.

“It was a rough start to this meet,” Smoliga said.  “And this morning, I was definitely hoping to go faster than 29.  That was very weird for me because I felt so strong.

“It’s really hard to mentally overcome a bad prelim swim.  I tried to come out for the `B’ final and just have a good race and really try to win it.  I think I did what I wanted to.”

Smoliga won the ``B’’ in 28.64.  That would have been fifth in the “A” race, won by Rachel Bootsma with a U.S. record 27.68.  Missy Franklin was second in a personal best 27.98.

Smoliga, headed for the University of Georgia, has her best event Friday, the 100 back.  She was fourth in that race at the 2012 Olympic trials.

“I’m definitely pumped,” she said.  “I am hoping that my gears will turn for tomorrow.  With Missy and Rachel, it should be a blast.”

*Becca Mann, whose results have been decidedly mixed, came up with her second fourth-place of the meet in Thursday’s 400-meter individual medley.  Mann, 15, of Homer Glen, was eight seconds behind winner Maya Dirado.  She already has made the worlds in open water swimming.