While he didn't win a medal, Petersburg High graduate Derek Gibb saw some unexpected action during the World University Games, or Universiade, in Daegu, South Korea.
Gibb, who will be a senior for defending NCAA champion Auburn University, was a member of the U.S. men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay team in Monday's swimming events at the Duryu Swimming Pool.
Even though he wasn't on the original U.S. roster posted Sunday before the relay, Gibb was pressed into action during Monday's preliminary heats and he stayed on the team in the finals.
"I did swim the third leg of the 4x100 relay," Gibb wrote in an e-mail Monday night. "I didn't know that I was going to be on that relay until the day before, so I didn't get as ready as I would have liked."
The Great Britain team of Chris Cozens, Alex Scotcher, Ross Davenport and Matt Kidd won the event in a time of 3 minutes, 20.59 seconds, repeating the British victory in the same event during the 2001 World University Games in Beijing, China. Australia took second place in 3:20.90, followed by the Ukraine in 3:21.11.
The United States team of Mark Knepley, Clay Kirkland, Gibb and Andrew Schnell finished in seventh place with a time of 3:22.97. Kirkland and Gibb swam for Auburn, as did Kidd from Great Britain, when the Tigers won the NCAA Championships in April. More than a dozen swimmers from Auburn are competing for various countries in the World University Games.
Gibb swam the third leg for the United States, and his time was 50.75 seconds. Gibb covered the first 50 meters in 23.57 seconds, but his second 50 was just 27.18. Knepley swam a 51.49 for the first leg, Kirkland posted a 50.14 for the second leg and Schnell swam a 50.59 for the anchor leg.
Gibb also swam the third leg in the preliminaries for the United States, which took third place in its heat and fifth overall in the preliminary round. The Ukraine won the first heat in 3:22.37, followed by France in 3:22.98 and the United States in 3:23.11. Great Britain won the second heat in 3:22.09 and Australia was second in 3:22.80.
"I wish I would have prepared more for it, since I trained for the 50 this summer," Gibb wrote. "Also, coming home and fishing made it so I didn't train as well as I would have liked. But that's the way it goes sometimes, although that was my best relay split for meters so I was happy.
Before he left for Korea, Gibb said he thought he might swim in the preliminaries but not in the finals. His main focus is Saturday's 50-meter freestyle, Gibb's only scheduled individual event.
"It was nice being able to get a swim in under my belt before I swim the 50 on Saturday," Gibb wrote. "There's a lot of fast people entered in the event so it should be a good one. The competition looks really tough. I think going into the 50 I'm going to be more nervous because of the fast guys. But hopefully it will make me swim faster."
The Universiade has been under a terror watch, and there have been clashes between South Korean protesters and North Korean journalists covering the World University Games. But Gibb said the head of security has been able to keep the athletes updated on the situation, and they haven't had any serious scares.
He said the North Koreans wouldn't cheer for the Americans during the opening ceremonies, but otherwise everyone has been pretty friendly.
"Other than that we are having a great time," Gibb wrote, adding that he's enjoyed the atmosphere of the Olympics-style event. "I've met so many people from other countries, mostly hot girls from Sweden and Estonia - and Greece! So it's been nice."
He said he and several teammates found a tailor who is making them suits for $200 that would cost $1,500 in the United States. The tailor, Sangtae Han, went to Texas A&M, and he invited them to have dinner with his family.
"We can see how they live and how their lifestyles are, so that should be pretty sweet," Gibb wrote. "Because of what he's doing for us, we are getting him free tickets to a few of the swimming events. The Koreans over here are the nicest people. We meet new ones every day that speak English, and they help us find our way around and show us all kinds of cool stuff about Korea."
One of Gibb's teammates has posted a series of photos from the Universiade, including a few of Gibb. They can be found on the Web at http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.