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Swimmers eye 2024 Olympics after failing to make this year’s team

Boulder City High School graduates AJ Pouch and Zane Grothe failed to make the team at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha, Nebraska, last week.

Pouch, a 2019 BCHS graduate, competed in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter breaststroke events. He came in fifth place in the finals for the 200-meter race with a time of 2:10.35. He came in 10th place for the 100-meter race with a time of 1:00.36 and did not make the finals.

He said competing at the Olympic trials “almost didn’t feel real” and that competing among the fastest people in the country “felt like a dream.”

“The light shows they perform before the finals sessions, the crowd constantly cheering because they love the sport, and diving in that pool knowing you have as good a chance at making the Olympic team as everyone else, the feeling you get is indescribable,” he said. “I went into the meet having no expectations for my races. I just wanted to go in and do my best.

“But after making semifinals in the 100 breast and being pushed out of the championship final by .08 fueled me for the 200. My coaches and I knew we had the ability to race in the top eight. We just had to do it. Then finally making that championship final and hearing my name be announced to the crowd and hearing the crowd roar gave me goosebumps.”

Pouch said he plans to compete in the 2024 Olympic trials and continue his swimming career as long as he can.

“I think having a fifth- and ninth- place finish at my first Olympic trials set me up well for what’s to come in the future,” he added.

Grothe, 29, competed in the 200-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle events. He failed to make the finals in any of them.

“I’m fortunate to be in a better place mentally than I was in 2016,” he wrote on his Facebook page after the trials. “Making the team in ’16 would have critically defined my career. I was devastated. Now, not so much. I don’t need to be an Olympian to feel good about what I’ve accomplished. I will always consider my success (at the) Olympic level. Nevertheless, it remains my ultimate goal to be an Olympian. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey. It’s all of you I can truly thank for the strength I find in my most crushing defeats. My plan is to retire in 2024. I’m not done trying, but I can’t promise I’ll make it another three years.”

Grothe, a 2010 BCHS graduate, came in 11th place in the preliminary heats for the 400-meter race with a time of 3:50.80. He tied for 13th place in the preliminary heats for the 200-meter race with a time of 1:47.63 and was a reserve for the final heat with a qualifying time of 1:47.26.

For the 800-meter freestyle event, he came in 12th place with a time of 8:00:00.

He ended up not racing in the 1500-meter freestyle event because he did not want to contest his No. 2 seed time.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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