Photo courtesy of Fresno State Athletics
Sophomore Michelle Dockendorf qualified for the Olympic trials in the
50-yard freestyle event with a time of 26.39 seconds — the exact time
needed to qualify.
Junior Dani Yoho and sophomore Michelle Dockendorf are awaiting the Olympic team trials for a chance to represent the United States in London this summer
Fresno State swimmers Dani Yoho and Michelle Dockendorf have each qualified to compete at the Olympic team trials in June and are now training for a chance to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer.
Yoho, a 21-year-old junior communications student, qualified for the trials by swimming the 50-yard freestyle event in 26.39 seconds – the exact time necessary to attend Olympic trials. Yoho hit the time at a trial meet at the Fresno State Aquatics Center nearly two months ago. She said the meet was set up specifically to give college swimmers like herself another opportunity to make an official qualifying time for Olympic trials.
Yoho said it was just a year ago when she started seriously thinking about qualifying for trials.
“By my sophomore year it was definitely a goal of mine,” Yoho said. “So when I didn’t make it last year, this year I had a fire to qualify.”
Dockendorf, a 20-year-old sophomore public health student, qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials nearly two years ago at a Junior Olympics meet she attended right after graduating high school. She said she was initially upset about having to attend the meet as she was much older than all the other swimmers there. With the inspiration of her club coach and former Olympic swimmer Mark Warkentin, Dockendorf qualified in the 200-yard breaststroke event with a time of 2:34.44, when she needed a time of 2:35.99.
A swimmer her entire life, Dockendorf said growing up in Santa Barbara gave her plenty of opportunities for time in the water.
“I could swim before I could walk,” Dockendorf said.
She said that while she often dreamed of the chance to compete in the Olympics, she never thought it was a realistic goal until now.
“I’m halfway there,” Dockendorf said.
Quite the opposite, Yoho started her swimming career as a high school freshman in Sugar Land, Texas. She said she picked up swimming as a way to stay in shape for soccer season.
“Dani came in as a very raw swimmer,” said assistant women’s swimming coach and Yoho’s sprinting coach Patrick Ota. “She has a great feel for the water and a lot of natural speed.”
After some extensive development and training with Yoho, Ota said she has proved to be a competitor by qualifying for the Olympic trials.
“I think this is a great sign for next season and what she can do,” Ota said.
Head coach Jeanne Fleck said both girls are now weightlifting and training in the pool around three-and-a-half to four hours a day, six days a week. She said they are currently in hard aerobic training and will switch to quality training in a few weeks then rest right before trials.
Dockendorf and Yoho will travel with their coaches to Omaha, Neb. in June for the Olympic trials. The two fastest swimmers from each event will compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.
While Fleck and Ota realize it’s a lofty goal for the girls to make the Olympic team, they each view the opportunity as a learning experience and honor for them both.
“I want them to go and swim fast and be the best they can be,” Fleck said.