Junior Shawn Parkhurst of the Canisius College men's swimming and diving team will compete in the 1500 freestyle and 200 fly at the 2011 AT&T Winter National Championships held Dec. 1-3 at the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center in Atlanta. Parkhurst is the first Golden Griffin to represent the College at this event and is attempting to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.
"It has always been my goal since I started to swim to make Olympic trials and that was my big dream. This meet is a step closer to that overall goal," said Parkhurst.
A two-time MAAC champion, Parkhurst captured the individual crowns in both the 1000 freestyle and 200 fly at the 2011 MAAC Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. Upon winning his titles, the Scriba, N.Y. native became the first Canisius male to earn a conference title since 1997.
"Ever since I have watched Shawn swim as a youngster, he has been a racer, a competitor," said head coach Scott Vanderzell. "Since he has been here, everything he has done in the pool he has done at a 110 percent."
At the Cleveland Dual Meet Invite on Nov. 28, Parkhurst set the program mark in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:44.28, breaking the previous time that stood for 16 years. Parkhurst also currently holds the school records in five races, including the 500 freestyle (4:32.49), 1000 freestyle (9:20.26), 1650 freestyle (15:30.56), and 200 fly (1:49.63), which he set last season.
In the 1500 freestyle, Parkhurst will be competing among 53 competitors from across the globe. The field includes three-time Olympic medalist Peter Vanderkaay, eight-time World University Games medalist Michael Klueh, and French Olympian Sebastien Rouault.
The 200 fly will feature a total of 77 of the world's best swimmers. Included in the field of the 200 fly is Israeli Olympian Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, who represented his country at the 2008 Olympics. The current record holder for the 1500 freestyle event is 16-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps.
"To finally be able to compete at the same level, same stage, and same meet is huge for me. It makes me feel good about myself and it really pushes me to want even more just like they did," said Parkhurst. "For me, I'm there to compete and every competitor is the same, I see everyone as the same in the pool. I race to win."
Preliminary action for each day will begin at 9 a.m. followed by the finals for each race at 6 p.m.