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UB Swimmers Taking on the Best at Olympic Trials


UB swimmers prepare to race Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin and other Olympic champions.

Brittney Kuras has stopped shaving her legs.

No, it’s not a statement about femininity. Kuras is a swimmer for the UB Bulls, and the hair on her legs will create drag, which slows her progress through the water.

The purpose of this practice: prepare the Bulls for what Head Coach Andy Bashor describes as an event they’ll remember for the rest of their lives — the U.S. Olympic trials.

Eight UB swimmers have qualified for the trials along with Kuras — Mallory Morrell, Meili Carpenter, Matt Schwippert, Phil Aronica, Mike Dugan, Matt Hogan and Alie Schirmers — earning a spot at events held in Western New York and beyond since 2010.

The swimming portion of the trials — which takes place June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb. — will feature roughly 1,800 athletes. A typical race includes several heats that feature up to 140 competitors. The diving trials are scheduled June 17-24 near Seattle.

Because the season began in October, the swimmers are in peak physical shape; they practice six days a week, routinely arriving at the pool before dawn. Practices focus on technique and mental preparation, such as getting good starts and keeping a steady pace.

It’s attention to detail like this that has helped UB swimmers and divers set 20 university records during the past three seasons. It also led the men’s team to its first MAC championship in 2011. UB is the first university other than Eastern Michigan and Miami (Ohio) to claim the honor since 1979.

The accolades are testament to a growing program that now includes eight Olympic hopefuls, a record for UB. The eight Bulls competing in the trials will help UB build a stronger swimming and diving program, says Bashor.

Kuras has a few days to leave her razor at bay. The end of June will come soon enough, the time when Kuras and seven other Bulls go toe-to-toe with the nation’s best, and she will do whatever it takes for a shot at making history.

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