Richard Munson, one of 300 swimmers participating in the National Family Y Masters Swim Meet this week, knows the value of a second.
The New Jersey resident came within a second of qualifying at the U.S. Open Swim Meet in December, and he came to the Augusta Aquatics Center to make up the final tenth of a second he needs to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Munson took first place in the 19-24 age bracket in the 100-yard backstroke. But he missed the time cut, finishing with a time of 52.61. He needed a time of 49.99 to qualify for the trials.
Despite missing the cut, Munson still broke the Masters Y Swim Meet record in the 200 freestyle with a 1:42.64.
His expectations are high, but he doesn't put too much pressure on himself, especially around the Masters swimmers.
"I came here to make three Olympic trial cuts and then train for Olympic trials," he said. "I love it here. This is just a bunch of people who come down and enjoy swimming and they want to compete and they're staying with it. Everybody just seems to be having a good time."
The swim meet began Thursday and ends Sunday. Swimmers from around the country are participating in the event.
"It's people enjoying the sport and who want to stay involved. As I walked around the pool everybody seemed to know everybody. Everybody's supportive. If you have a good swim everybody's clapping. If you have a bad swim everybody's clapping, Munson said."
Breaking a meet record was a nice accomplishment, but the 24-year-old from Maplewood, N.J., is used to big feats. While at Seton Hall University he was named Athlete of the Year in 1999.
He started swimming when he was a senior in high school. By the time he was a junior at Seton Hall he decided to focus on the sport.
"I started having a lot of success, like drops in times and in competing at the national level," he said. "I was just enjoying the sport and doing the best I could.
"I think my enjoyment is pushing myself to the limit whenever I can. I put a lot of pressure on myself to swim fast. I think that all leads to training wisely."
That's something he may have learned from his idol, Ron Carnell, a 33-year-old doctor from Munson's hometown.
"He's up there as one of the best in the world," he said. "He always believed in me, even when I wasn't at this level. He's always pushing me to go, so I really look up to him. If he makes the team, he'll be the oldest Olympian swimmer. I have big shoes to fill."
Munson still has a chance to qualify for the Olympic trials today when he competes in his best event, the 200-yard backstroke. But look out if he wins.
"I'll go crazy. I'll run out with my pants off."
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