Amanda Beard not only came back to the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational, but did something Friday night at the Olympic Trials tune-up that she also did four years ago.
Something she certainly won’t want to duplicate in a few weeks.
Beard appeared to breeze to victory in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, unofficially finishing the A final in 2:28.23. Shortly after she exited the pool at CenturyLink Center, however, it was announced that the four-time Olympian had been disqualified.
The ruling from the head official, according to a USA Swimming spokesperson, was that Beard’s elbows at some point had risen above the surface on the recovery portion of her stroke.
Four years ago, Beard was socked with the same violation after a preliminary heat at the Swimvitational.
“It’s rare. It’s very rare,” said Eric Hansen, Beard’s coach with the Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics team. “You better be looking real close if you’re going to call that.”
Beard, 30, looked displeased as she was told of the ruling before leaving the pool deck Friday night. She declined interview requests as she headed to the convention center pool to do her cool-down swim.
“She wasn’t real happy and was disappointed with it,” Hansen said. “You think about this as a tune-up meet, but the thing that makes her great is that she takes all these things seriously.”
Beard is the star attraction among the women’s field for the three-day Swimvitational, which opened Friday in front of 2,508 (including participants). She is scheduled to swim again Sunday in the 100 breaststroke.
After her DQ in the 2008 Swimvitational, Beard returned to Omaha to finish second in the 200 breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She is a three-time Olympic medalist in the 200, winning gold in 2004, silver in 1996 and bronze in 2000.
Hansen called the mishap Friday a minor inconvenience for the veteran swimmer, and said: “We just got to do our homework so this doesn’t happen again.”
Hansen, who has been working with Beard for about 14 months, said she remains a very real threat to make the Olympic team in her signature event.
“I tell everybody this: I would never bet against her,” Hansen said. “Regardless of what her training’s been — and her training’s been great — but even if it wasn’t I wouldn’t bet against her because she’s so competitive.”
With Beard eliminated Friday, the victory in the 200 went to Brittany Kimmitt in 2:31.45.
Beard and Tucson teammate Matt Grevers are the biggest names for the 2012 Swimvitational, a change from four years ago when Michael Phelps headed a star-studded field that wanted to scope out the Omaha arena’s pool and setup before the 2008 Trials. Grevers will swim Saturday and Sunday.
One of the other top performances Friday came from Roland Schoeman, a 2008 Olympian from South Africa who already has qualified for the 2012 London Games. Schoeman won the men’s A final in the 100 freestyle in 49.07 seconds, besting South African mate Darian Townsend (49.85).
“That’s my best time in three-odd years,” Schoeman said. “That’s faster than I was in the Olympic Trials for South Africa. Getting better all the time, which is good.”
Schoeman, 31, trains at the Phoenix Swim Club under Coley Stickels, a former University of Arizona teammate and a graduate of Omaha Creighton Prep.
“What’s nice about this is fantastic pool, fantastic location,” Schoeman said. “The entire setup is like the World Championships. You can sort of dress-rehearse for the Olympics.”
The Swimvitational resumes Saturday with preliminaries starting at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.
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