Banker Gearing Up for Olympic Trials

June 24, 2008

By Tom Purfield of The Pueblo (CO) Chieftain

With Michael Phelps and Aaron Peirsol as peers on an equal stage, Jon Banker is confident he has just about made it to the top of his game.

Banker, indeed, made it to that stage - a level that has never before been reached by a male swimmer from Southern Colorado.

Banker, a Canon City native, five-time state champion for Centennial High School and current captain of the University of Washington men's team, qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials, to be held June 29 through July 6 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.

'That was a really great feeling,' Banker said. 'Definitely one of the biggest feelings of accomplishment that I've had.'

The huge moment came during the middle of May at the prestigious Santa Clara XLI International Swim Meet in California. Swimming for his Washington Aquatics club team, Banker swam a 57.65 in the 100-meter backstroke to qualify for the trials. The qualifying standard for the event was 57.99, so '7' was definitely a lucky number for Banker.

'I hit the wall and looked up, hoping to see that 57. I saw 57.65 and had to look at the clock and my lane about three times,' Banker said. 'I was a little bit in disbelief, but I saw my teammates going wild in the stands so I knew it was true.'

Now Banker, 21, heads to the premiere meet in USA Swimming. Everyone who will make up the United States team for the Olympic Games in Beijing will be in Omaha.

That includes Phelps, the six-time gold medalist darling of the Athens Games who is a 20-time world-record holder, and Peirsol, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and current world-record holder in the 100 back at 52.98.

Both, along with another world-record holder in Ryan Lochte, are entered in the 100 back along with Banker, who is seeded 68th.

Banker will hit the water at trials on June 30. The preliminaries for the 100 back is the fourth event on the day's schedule that begins at 10 a.m. MDT.

While thrilled with his accomplishment of making the trials, Banker is realistic about his chances of going to Beijing.

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Banker cont'd....