#Smiles: Lander swimmer places 1st in heat at Olympic Trials

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

(Lander, WY) – On Monday, June 7th, 16-year-old Jonny Kulow experienced a new level of competition as he stepped on the lane 8 starting block for the Men’s 50m Freestyle in the U.S. Olympics Swimming Team Trials.

In less than 30 seconds, it was over; his time of 23.06 seconds was a new personal best and earned him 1st place in his heat.

“It was a sigh of relief when I got out of the 50,” shared Jonny. “It was so fun. I got out and didn’t stop smiling.”

h/t cposephoto via Jonny Kulow

He ranked 20th overall out of 94 in this event and is the youngest in the top 54 ranked swimmers. Only the top 16 advanced to Wave II of the Trials.

Though he didn’t advance, he shared that being able to wear the Lander Swim Club cap and see it on the jumbotron was amazing.

His spot in the Trials was secured at the 18 & Under Spring Cup in Des Moines, Iowa only a month earlier with a time of 23.16 seconds, which was his personal best at the time.

Jonny was sick leading up to the Trials held in Omaha, Nebraska leaving him with only about one whole week of training, which generally consists of morning and afternoon sessions a few days a week that rotate from technique to interval.

“Those first few days were definitely nerve-wracking and super intense,” he explained about being at the Trials. “I’ve never been at something that big. I wanted to go in, see what happens and give it my best shot. I didn’t have high expectations.”

h/t cposephoto via Jonny Kulow

A timed trial the day before the competition calmed him down and set into motion his goals. He shared the turnout was better than expected.

In addition to family, Lander Swim Club head coach Jennifer Hudson Schaff and assistant coach Erik DeClue joined him in both Des Moines for the qualifier and Omaha for the Olympic Trials.

Erik is Jonny’s longtime swim coach and he shared that it has been super cool to have the same face at the end of the lane for so many years.

h/t cposephoto via Jonny Kulow

Jonny shared his appreciation for the Lander Swim Club and for the donor who helped make the coaches’ travel to both events possible.

“I don’t know if any of this would have happened without that,” he noted about the donation.

The next few months are currently set with local swim meets and summer state for the club.

He begins his senior year at Lander Valley High School in the fall and will be back in the pool with the Tigers for hopefully a 26th consecutive state title before heading off to swim for Arizona State.

Congratulations, Jonny! 🎉

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