#Smiles: Lander Swim Club athlete heads to U.S. Olympic swim team trials

A series to share #smiles across our community through the achievements of our local youth, brought to you by Rendezvous Dental.

(Lander, WY) – Local athlete Jonny Kulow from the Lander Swim Club is set to attend the U.S. Olympic Team – Swimming in Omaha, Nebraska in Wave I from June 4-7, 2021. Traditionally held every four years, the Olympic Trials are the largest and most prestigious swimming event in the U.S.

“Every time this 16-year-old young man competes, he astonishes us,” said Jennifer Hudson Schaff, Head Coach of the Lander Swim Club. “We are extremely proud to have Jonny representing Lander and Wyoming at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming event. This honor reflects the culmination of all the hard work he has put into training, both in and out of the water. Because of that hard work and commitment, Jonny is one of the fastest swimmers age 16 and under in the country. It takes a valley to raise a swimmer.”

For his age group, Jonny is currently ranked #1 in the country in the 100m Free, 2nd in the 50m free, and 5th in the 100m fly. Jonny will be competing in one of the most competitive and fastest events in swimming at Trials, the 50m free.

Over the past weekend, Jonny, his mom and assistant coach Joan Kulow, and assistant coach Erik DeClue traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the 18 & Under Spring Cup. While there, they ran into some friends and former swim club member Meredith Smithbaker and her mom Tracy.

h/t cposephoto via Lander Swim Club – Meredith Smithbaker

Meredith, 18, also qualified in the 100m breaststroke and the 50m free. She started her swimming career with the Lander Swim Club and now swims for Team Vortex in Fort Collins, Colorado. In addition, has spent an inordinate amount of time training, and adapting her schedule around the social distancing restrictions due to the pandemic.

“It is an honor to have coached Meredith and watch her over the years blossom into the skilled, intelligent, beautiful young woman she is today,” said Jennifer. “We can’t wait to cheer for her, too, at the Olympic Trials!”

A unique twist to this Olympic journey is the interesting nature of a specific Lander Swim Club coach.

These are not the first nationally-ranked athletes Erik DeClue has had a hand in coaching. As the assistant coach for the Lander Swim Club he has primarily directed the practices Jonny attends almost year-round. In addition, he is the head coach for Lander boxing. His resume includes coaching nationally ranked boxers, as well.

h/t Lander Swim Club – Coach Erik DeClue

“Extremely skilled, influential, analytical, and devoted, Erik spends his days at both the pool and the boxing gym and it certainly pays off for these talented athletes,” Jennifer noted.

Due to COVID-19, the Olympic Trials have been split into two waves in order to accommodate the qualified athletes, coaches, and spectators while maintaining safe COVID-19 best practices.

Wave I:

Qualified U.S. swimmers will compete at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming in June 2021 in a wildcard bid to reach Wave II of the event and race to become a member of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team.

The four-day Trials competition will feature many of the country’s rising talent, with the top two swimmers of every event moving to Wave II.

The Olympic Trials Swimming will be broadcast live across NBC, NBCSN, the Olympic Channel and usaswimming.org.

Athletes successfully qualified for this event by swimming fast and reaching impressive time standards. As of May 4, 2021, a total of 638 female and 745 male athletes had qualified across both waves.

A complete list of qualifiers can be found here.

For more information on the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming, please click here.

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