BUFFALO, N.Y. -- At least 6 local swimmers are competing in Omaha, Neb. this week at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and their success shows the growing interest in the sport in Western New York.
Five of the six swimmers are part of the STAR Swimming team, which competes at the aquatics center at ECC. Coach Rick Aronberg said the future is bright for the sport locally.
"Competition breeds competition," Aronberg said by phone from Omaha. "And Western New York and Buffalo has really seen a major change in the last 8 years."
Among the five STAR swimmers to make the trials is Courtney Otto, who now attends Harvard University. She qualified to compete in 3 of the trials and had one of her best races ever Tuesday in the 200 Meter Individual Medley.
Ott made it to semi-finals at Olympic Trials and will be on NBC and Channel 2 tonight at 8pm to compete in the 200m fly.
2 On Your Side spoke to Courtney via Skype from her hotel room at the trials. The West Seneca native said she's proud to represent her hometown and is proud of the showing from WNY swimmers.
"I think it's great," Courtney said. "I think that means that swimming is starting to really become like a sporting force in Western New York, which I think is really great."
The other four swimmers from STAR include Phil Aronica, Matt Hogan, Allison Schirmers and Matt Schwippert.
Charlie Rommel from Clarence isn't competing for STAR, but he competed with many of those swimmers growing up. We talked to him via Skype from the aquatics center at the University of Virginia, where he's attending college.
Rommel leaves for Omaha Thursday and competes Saturday in the difficult 50 Meter Freestyle race.
"To swim the '50' well at this level, you have to be perfect," Rommel said. "You cannot afford to make even a single mistake. One mistake will leave you hundredths of a second behind, and those hundredths of a second are what determine first place from 50th place."
In addition to the six swimmers from WNY, several other swimmers from the University at Buffalo are also competing, giving Buffalo-area sports fans even more reasons to cheer.
The trials wrap up this weekend. The Olympics kick off July 27 with the opening ceremonies in London.