Matt McLean now has another swimming accolade he can check off his list: Olympic qualifier.
The Potomac Falls High School alum finished fifth in the 200-meter freestyle final with a time of 1:46.89 at the United States Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. to qualify for the United States 800-meter freestyle relay team in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
“There’s no bigger honor in swimming than to represent your country, especially the United States, at the most elite level,” McLean said.
After finishing one spot shy of making the finals in the 400-meter freestyle June 25, McLean bounced back in the 200 free preliminaries the following day with a time of 1:48.34. The 2011 University of Virginia graduate then won his semifinal heat with a time of 1:47.40 to qualify for the final.
“I started pretty disappointed with that 400,” McLean. “I just put that out of my head and focused on the 200.”
McLean was joined in Omaha by his father and younger brother, both of whom watched McLean grow as a swimmer in the past 14 years.
McLean began swimming at age 10, where he was a member of the Cascades Rapids in summer league competition.
As he aged and his swimming talents were recognized, McLean began swimming for both Potomac Falls and SNOW Swimming.
A winner of the VHSL state title in the 200-yard freestyle in both 2005 and 2006, McLean still holds the state record in the event. In 2006, his senior year, McLean also won the state title in the 500-yard freestyle.
In the fall of 2007, McLean enrolled at Virginia, where he began a prolific college career.
McLean’s numerous collegiate accolades include the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year, 2008 and 2011 ACC Swimmer of the Year, and 2008, 2009 and 2011 ACC Swimmer of the Championships.
From 2008-2011, McLean won ACC titles in 17 events. In 2011, McLean earned UVA its fourth national title when he won the NCAA title in the 500 freestyle. He graduated from the University of Virginia holding ACC records in the 500 freestyle, the 1,000 freestyle, and the 1,650 freestyle.
After college, McLean moved to California, where he began training with the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team.
McLean and the rest of Team USA Swimming will head to Knoxville, Tenn. on July 7 for training camp before taking off for London.
“I think the main priority is doing what I can in training camp and at the actual meet to help my teammates as much as possible so USA can be the best we can be,” McLean said.
Swimming events begin July 28, with the 800 relay taking place July 31. The qualifying round for the 800 is at 6:45 a.m. EST and the final is set for 3:46 p.m