Joyce gets late call for swim team
Source: THE DETROIT NEWS By John Niyo
A long, dreary trip home turned — literally — on a phone call for former Ann Arbor Pioneer standout Kara Lynn Joyce.
The two-time Olympic silver medalist was on her way home from a disappointing performance at the U.S. swimming trials in Omaha, Neb., earlier this month. She’d failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, and while the rest of the U.S. team headed west for a two-week training camp in Palo Alto, Calif., Joyce headed back home to Athens, Ga.
Joyce, 22, knew there remained a glimmer of hope for her to make it to China. Cal swimmer Emily Silver had suffered a broken hand, potentially opening a spot for Joyce — the first alternate — on the 400-meter freestyle relay team.
“But I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” said Joyce, who finished her career at Georgia in 2007 with 18 national titles — second-most in NCAA history.
During a layover in Chicago, though, she turned on her cell phone and found several messages. When the phone rang again, it was her coach, Jack Bauerle, also serving as coach of the U.S. women’s team headed to Beijing. He told her to grab a flight from Chicago to San Francisco: She was on the team.
“It was one of my favorite calls I’ve ever made,” Bauerle said, laughing. “We caught her in Chicago and I couldn’t hear anything on the other end of the line. I asked her if she was all right. I thought maybe she’d fallen down.”
“I just started crying, and I’m sure everyone on the plane was thinking, ‘What’s wrong with that girl?’ ” said Joyce, now in Singapore with the U.S. team at a final pre-Beijing training camp.
That girl now seems like a lock to take part in the sprint relay. Silver is back practicing with a splint on her surgically-repaired hand but remains questionable for competition. Meanwhile, the doping case involving American Jessica Hardy — she tested positive for a banned anabolic agent at the trials — may open up a spot in the individual 50 freestyle. Hardy, the American record-holder in the 100 breaststroke, also qualified in the 50 free by finishing second to Dara Torres.
But by the time news of Hardy’s failed drug test broke last week, the deadline for USA Swimming to replace her on the roster had passed.
So rather than third-place finisher Tara Kirk getting the call in the 50 free, Joyce, who finished fourth in the 50 at the trials, likely will the get the spot since she’s already on the Olympic roster. Joyce finished fifth in the 50 and 100 free individual events at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Rockford native Dathan Ritzenhein turned in an impressive performance Sunday at the New York City Half-Marathon, his final prep for the Olympic marathon Aug. 24 in Beijing. Ritzenhein finished third behind Tadesse Tola of Ethiopia and Patrick Makau of Kenya.
“I came in really feeling strong the last few miles, and that is a good sign for me leading into Beijing,” said Ritzenhein, who clocked 1:01:38.
“This was a great last test for the Olympics, perfect for me.”