SPA at the Olympic Trials - Part II


SPA at the Trials

After doing additional research, the numbers presented in the first article need to be revised slightly. As it turns out, going back to 1988, Saint Petersburg Aquatics has been represented at every version of the Olympic Trials. There have been nine Olympic Trials in that timeframe including the upcoming event in 2021. The athletes being discussed are those who swam for SPA at the actual trials or who were in college and maintained their SPA affiliation.

SPA by the REVISED numbers:

Nineteen – individuals who have or will have competed at Trials with Saint Petersburg Aquatics in their pedigree from 1988 to 2021.

Eleven – the number of female athletes in those 19.

Eight – the number of male athletes in those 19.

Two - swimmers who will have competed at four different Trials.

Two - swimmers who have competed in three different Trials.

Seven – swimmers who will have competed in two different Trials.

Eight - the most swimmers with a SPA pedigree competing at a single Trials.

Three - swimmers from one family.

Two - swimmers from a second family.

Thirteen - the youngest swimmer attaining a Trial cut was 13 at the time.

Fifteen - four swimmers were 15 when they first competed at Trials.

Two - swimmers thus far who have succeeded in making the US Olympic team.

Four – the number of gold medals won by those two swimmers (3 and 1) at the Olympic games.

The Athletes 1988-1996

1988 – Austin, Texas

In 1988 the US Olympic Team Trials – Swimming were held from August 8th – 13th in Austin, Texas. The Olympic Games that year were held in Seoul, South Korea. Trials featured some memorable names both qualifying for the team and some near misses: Tom Jager, Matt Biondi, David Berkoff, Melvin Stewart, Mike Barrowman, Pablo Morales, Jill Sterkel, Dara Torres, Janet Evans, Mary T. Meagher, Jenny Thompson, and Summer Sanders. It also marked the appearance of a 15-year old from St. Petersburg.

Nicole Haislett:

Born December 16, 1972, Nicole Haislett began swimming for SPA at the age of 6. By the time the Trials rolled around in 1988 she was a 15-year-old Lakewood High School student and swimmer. For her first Trials experience Haislett had qualified to swim in two events, the 50 Freestyle and the 100 Freestyle. In the 50 Freestyle she finished 25th with a time of 0:26.76. In the 100 Freestyle her time of 0:56.96 was good for 17th .

1992 – Indianapolis, Indiana

The 1992 US Olympic Team Trials – Swimming were held in March in Indianapolis, Indiana at the famous IUPUI Natatorium – The Nat! Several of those memorable names from 1988 returned in 1992. On the men’s side Tom Jager, Matt Biondi, David Berkoff, Melvin Stewart, Mike Barrowman, and Pablo Morales all took another shot at making the team and competing at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The women’s side had a few changes: Janet Evans, Jenny Thompson and Summer Sanders returned. Added to those were Janie Wagstaff and Anita Nall. St. Petersburg Aquatics had two swimmers compete at the ’92 Trials.

Teresa Mauck

Teresa Mauck came to St. Petersburg in the summer of 1991 when her father, Carl Mauck was named the offensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Already an accomplished swimmer (she held several LSC age group records and competed at the 1991 Olympic Festival in San Diego), Mauck had an immediate impact as a high school freshman at Northeast High School. Placing second in the 200 and 500 Freestyles, she was Pinellas County’s top female swimmer in 4 of 8 individual events. The St. Petersburg Times named her the 1991 Girls Swimmer of the Year.

Mauck qualified for one event at the 1992 Trials, the 200 Individual Medley. She finished28th in a time of 2:23.53. Mauck was SPA’s second 15-year-old to compete at trials after Nicole Haislett in 1988. Unfortunately, 1991-92 was her only year with SPA as her father became a coach with the San Diego Chargers in 1992. She later attended and swam for the University of Nebraska for two years before injuries from an accident ended her swimming career.

Nicole Haislett

Nicole Haislett returned for her second Trials in 1992. She had great success in the intervening years. In 1989 as a 16-year-old Haislett won the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter freestyles events at the U.S . Open. In 1990 she won the 200-yard freestyle national title at the U.S. Short Course Swimming National Championships. Haislett graduated from Lakewood High School in 1990 and having won four (4) state titles. In the fall of 1990, she had entered the University of Florida and had an immediate impact winning the NCAA national title in the 200 Freestyle in both 1991 and 1992. She was named the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year for both those years as well. All this success led into the 1992 Trials.

At Indianapolis in ’92, Haislett competed in the 50 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle, and 200 Individual Medley. In the 50 Freestyle she finished 6th. Haislett took 2nd in the 100 Freestyle and won the 200 Freestyle. In the 200 Individual Medley, Haislett finished 2nd . She was named to the official U.S. Olympic team for the 100 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle, 200 Individual Medley, 400 Freestyle Relay and the 400 Medley Relay.

In Barcelona, Nicole Haislett won three gold medals and was part of a world-record- setting 400 Freestyle Relay. She won an individual gold medal in the 200 Freestyle and gold medals in the 400 Medley Relay and 400 Freestyle Relay. In the 100 Freestyle she finished 4th and 9th in the 200 Individual Medley.

Returning to the University of Florida after the Olympic Games, Haislett finished her collegiate career with a total of 28 All American honors and 8 NCAA national titles (including 4 straight 200 Freestyle championships). She was undefeated in the SEC and named the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year all four years. She was named the SEC Female Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1994. Internationally, for her career, she won 22 medals in major international competitions of which 14 were gold. She held the American record for the 200 Meter Freestyle until 2003. Nicole Haislett retired from competitive swimming in 1995.

1996 – Indianapolis, Indiana

In March of 1996 the Trials returned to Indianapolis, Indiana and The Nat. 1996 saw a changing of the guard. There were fewer of the big names from 1992 present as there were few if any professional opportunities for swimmers to compete much beyond their college years. The big names of 1996 were Josh Davis, Tom Dolan, Gary Hall, Jr., Tom Malchow Greg Burgess and Melvin Stewart on the men’s side and Jenny Thompson, Janet Evans, Brooke Bennett, Amy Van Dyken, Amanda Beard and Misty Hymen for the women. Also appearing at the starting blocks was Dustin Bengston from St. Petersburg Aquatics.

Dustin Bengston

Dustin Bengston was a member of SPA in the late 1980’s-early ‘90’s. He attended Boca Ciega High School and in 1992 he won the state 4A title in the 100 Yard Butterfly. In 1993, Bengston won the state 4A title in the 200 Yard Freestyle and repeated in the 100 Yard Butterfly. He graduated from Boca Ciega High School in 1994 and entered Florida State University. Completing his freshman year at FSU, Bengston took his sophomore year (1995-6) as a red shirt year to train for the 1996 Olympic Trials. He qualified for the 200 Meter Freestyle and, competing in Indianapolis, Bengston finished 24 th with a time of 1:54.28. Following Trials, Bengston returned to the Tampa Bay area in 1997 as an assistant coach for WFLA in Largo. Eventually he moved to Tifton, Georgia where he is the successful owner and head coach of the Tifton Area Tidal Wave Swim Team.