Saugus High senior and Canyons Aquatic Club swimmer Tanner Olson doesn’t know yet where he’ll go to college. He does, however, know what kind of swim he expected from himself at the AT&T Winter National Championships in Atlanta over the weekend: his fastest-ever 200-yard breaststroke. As it turns out, he was right. Olson, 17, swam a personal record in the event’s prelims on Saturday, and even though he posted a slower time in that night’s finals, he was still named an 18-and-under champion. How did he see it coming? “I was hitting times in practice that I never hit before,” said Olson, who added that he is leaning toward attending Texas A&M but won’t make a decision until after taking a visit.
Valencia High senior Nikol Popov, a Canyons swimmer who recently signed with the University of Tennessee, was the 18-and-under champion in the women’s 200 breaststroke in Atlanta over the weekend. There wasn’t an extra race to decide the 18-and-under champion, it was simply the highest-finishing competitor who hadn’t yet turned 19 in each final. Popov, 17, finished third in the 200 breast “A” final with a time of two minutes, 9.33 seconds. Olson took eighth in his 200 breast “A” final. His time was 1:57.40, slightly behind the 1:56.89 he put up in prelims. He said he was pleased with his prelim swim but knew he needed to go faster in the third 50 yards. The adjustment, as it turns out, backfired in the final. “I saved a little too much in the first 100 and went a little slower than prelims,” he said. Olson, though, said it was the most fun he’s ever had at a meet. “I have never been to Atlanta before,” he said. “We stayed in a hotel that was right in downtown, a couple minutes for us to get to the pool at Georgia Tech.” Olson plans to take another trip in January, one to College Station, Texas, (home of Texas A&M). “I think (the decision will come after) I see the school and I visit their training facilities and everything,” Olson said. “That’s what it will come down to.” Olson, who missed some of Saugus High’s swim competitions last season as he prepared for the U.S. Olympic trials, said he planned to swim in all of the Centurions’ home events and at the CIF championships this season. Popov, who skipped all of Valencia’s meets last season with Olympic trials looming, plans to swim at “some” Foothill League dual meets, the league finals and the CIF championships this spring. At the Winter National Championships, she took fifth in the “A” Final of the women’s 100 breaststroke. She took eighth in the 200 individual medley “A” final after swimming a personal record in the race’s prelims (1:58.30). “I think overall it was a good meet because there wasn’t much pressure — not as many (swimmers) there,” Popov said. “It was more relaxed, and I think that helped me.” Popov was also on a third-place 200 freestyle relay with Julia Wolf (Valencia), Kaila Wong (Valencia) and Canyons Aquatic swimmer Isabella Arcila. Wolf, Popov, Wong and Canyon High’s Alexa Skorus-Neely took fifth in the 400 free relay. For a complete list of how Canyons Aquatic Club swimmers fared in Atlanta, visit USASwimming.org.