MANHATTAN — Five members of Asphalt Green’s swim team have qualified for the 2012 United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., where they'll compete against almost 2,000 other swimmers from around the country.
The whole team will be heading to Omaha for the meet that begins June 25, and Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics — or AGUA — will also be racing for a place on the National Youth Team, which will travel to Hawaii this summer.
"It has been a joy to watch these swimmers grow not only into elite athletes, but also as wonderful people," Asphalt Green Executive Director Carol Tweedy said.
The swimmers will be feted on Friday with an informal send-off celebration at the recreation center where they train in Yorkville. Asphalt Green is inviting the community to come and show their support at the Olympic Trials.
Three of the five swimmers heading to the trials — Lia Neal, Michael Domagala and En-Wei Hu-Van Wright — received Asphalt Green’s Swim for the Future scholarships. They were among 27 recipients of the program’s $3,600-a-year need-based scholarships, which were created in memory of Andrew Fisher and Doug Irgang, both veteran swimmers at the center who died in the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Neal, 17, a Fort Greene resident who attends the Upper East Side's Convent of the Sacred Heart, is currently ranked fifth in the nation in the 200-meter women’s freestyle and sixth in the 100-meter women’s freestyles. The U.S. takes six athletes for these events to have enough swimmers for its relays.
Neal also competed in the 2008 Olympic trials.
"I am nervous, but also very excited," Neal said in an email. "I know what to look forward to for this year."
She started swimming competitively at the age of 8 and credited her family with helping throughout.
"My mom has committed so much by driving me to early morning practices and watching every competition for so many years," Neal said. "My dad helps me with the mental challenges I encounter at this level of the sport."
She added, "They are both, along with the rest of my family, always loving and supportive of me no matter what."
Domagala qualified for the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter backstroke. Wright will be competing in the 200-meter backstroke.
Isla Hutchinson-Maddox, another Sacred Heart student, will swim the 200-meter butterfly, and Griffin Schumacher will be swimming jointly for AGUA and for Harvard (where he just finished Freshman year) in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle.
"Everybody is fast enough that they have a strong chance to make the Olympic Team or the Youth National Team," AGUA Head Coach Rachel Stratton-Mills said.
Asphalt Green’s send-off for the swimmers heading to the Olympic trials in Omaha is scheduled for Friday, June 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the recreation center’s AquaCenter, 1750 York Ave. at 91st Street.