Gibb joins World Univ. Games team

Former Petersburg swimmer to represent U.S. at international meet in South Korea

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

This is a busy time of the year for Derek Gibb, who has a full schedule of classes and two workouts a day for the Auburn University swim team.

But the 1999 Petersburg High School graduate, whose family now lives in Juneau, had to add another item to his list of things to do today - pick up a passport application.

Gibb found out on Monday he is one of 47 swimmers from around the country - 25 men and 22 women, including nine from Auburn - who will be competing in the 2003 World University Games, which take place Aug. 21-31 in Daegu, South Korea. The World University Games is a mini-Olympics-style competition for enrolled university students, with both a summer and a winter games in every odd-numbered year.

"My coach (Auburn coach David Marsh) just told me today," Gibb said by phone Monday from Auburn's campus in Auburn, Ala.

"This will be my first international meet. I've got to go get that (passport application) tomorrow. I wasn't expecting to go."

According to the United States roster, Gibb will swim in one event at the meet - the 50-meter freestyle. However, Gibb said he might earn a spot on a relay team before the meet takes place.

Gibb was selected to the U.S. team based on his performance last month at the USA Swimming National Championships, which took place Aug. 13-17 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Gibb finished 10th in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 23.43 seconds (his preliminaries time was a personal record 23.40), 24th in the 100-meter freestyle in 52.18 (with a PR of 51.56 in the prelims) and 28th in the 100-meter backstroke in 58.45. Gibb also swam with three of his Auburn teammates in the 400-meter freestyle relay, with the quartet finishing in fifth place and Gibb posting a split of 51.96 for his 100-meter leg.

At the time, Gibb said he thought it would be a week or so before he found out about the World University Games. When he didn't hear anything about them for more than a month, Gibb said he almost gave up hope.

"I thought I wasn't going," said Gibb, who was slightly disappointed in his times last month even though he had PRs in all his events. "I made the team, but I know I can go faster."

A junior majoring in criminology, Gibb said it will help him prepare for the meet having Marsh as his coach. The U.S. coaches for the World University Games haven't been named yet, but Marsh has been involved with several international teams and several of Gibb's Auburn teammates have been to international meets. Seven Auburn swimmers went to last month's Pan-Pacific Games in Japan, and Gibb's two roommates last year - Pat Calhoun and Scott Talbot - were 2000 Olympians. Calhoun, who came to Alaska on Gibb's last trip home, is one of the four Auburn men named to the World University Games roster, which still needs final approval from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"That will help out a lot," Gibb said of his coach and teammates. "We have a training camp in Colorado (Springs, Colo.) on May 1-4, 2003. He (Marsh) will definitely get me prepared. The guys who went to the Pan-Pacific Games said it was pretty intense."

Gibb, 21, is a 6-foot-8 former high school basketball player who is used to spending his summers purse seining for salmon in the waters near Petersburg and Mitkof Island. This summer Gibb didn't come home to fish, staying in Alabama to train with the ultimate dream of making the 2004 or 2008 Olympic swim teams. While he's doing better in the short sprints now, Gibb has had several coaches tell him he eventually will be better in the longer sprints.

"We're starting dryland training now to get a base going into the college season," Gibb said. "We're running and lifting weights, and doing a lot of circuit training. We're swimming twice a day. We practice at 6 a.m., and again about 2:30-3 p.m. I'm trying to hold strong in the 50, but they'll make me do the 100 back and the 100 free. I did pretty good in the back at nationals, I hadn't swam it since high school. The coaches think I have a lot more potential to get better."

Charles Bingham can be reached at

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