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Less than three-10ths of a second kept Juneau's Jesie Lewis from joining five other Alaskans at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials this week in Indianapolis.
Earlier this year Derek Gibb of Petersburg and Juneau, Andrew Tainter of Anchorage, Robert Roosa of Anchorage, Maria Reeves of Fairbanks and Patty Nash of North Pole qualified for the Olympic Trials, which start today and run through Aug. 16. Before this year only two other Alaskans had ever qualified for the Trials -- Andrew Billings of Fairbanks and former Juneau resident Mia Costello of Anchorage in 1988.
Lewis is a Juneau-Douglas High School graduate who will be a junior on the Fresno State University women's swim team this winter. She trained in Fresno with the Fresno Bulldog Swim Club, hoping to meet the Olympic Trials qualifying times, but came up just short. Lewis' best time in the 50-yard freestyle is 23.76 seconds, but the Trials cut was 23.49. Her PR in the 100 free is 51.55, but the cut was 50.99.
Lewis, 20, felt she was just one race away from making the cut.
``I just need a good race,'' Lewis said. ``I'm at the spot physically where I just need things to fall into place. I'm in the best shape of my life. It's a big mental game for me right now. Definitely, if I stay with it, physically I can do it.''
Lewis, like three of the four Alaskans in this year's Olympic Trials, is predominantly a sprint freestyler. But a recent back injury has her looking at other strokes.
``I just had a lower-back MRI (magnetic resonance imaging test) last week. I munched it last fall,'' said Lewis, who has been one of the top swimmers at Fresno State since arriving two years ago. ``That prevented me from training well this summer. I've been swimming more backstroke, but I focus on the sprints.''
Training in California, Lewis has run into Gibb at a couple of meets. But they don't really talk swimming, even though both were named the state high school meet's outstanding swimmers in 1997.
``I saw him this year at the Speedo Cup, and that was real fun,'' Lewis said. ``We usually just talk about home. We don't like to talk swimming with each other.''
Lewis said she's now concentrating her upcoming college season this winter. She feels she's gotten better, but in some ways she was better in high school. Lewis said she's hoping to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Trials.
``From where I came from in high school, I've physically improved,'' Lewis said. ``But my mental state may have been better when I was in high school. I'll be ready for 2004. Whatever I can, I'll do it.''