SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- It's one thing to dream and quite another to believe in the power of your dream.
Jimmy Feigen, a graduate of San Antonio's Churchill High School,has been driven to compete as an Olympic swimmer for years. He's spent countless hours working on his stroke and the nuances of the sport that is his life's passion.
Feigen, 22, realized his longtime dream Friday night with a fifth-place finish in the men's 100-meter freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb.
The top six finishers earned spots on the U.S. team as members of the 4x100 relay that will compete in the 2012 London Olympics, which begin in late July.
Feigen, who had the second-fastest time in the semifinals of the 100 freestyle, was clocked at 48.84 in the final.
Al Marks, who made Churchill synonymous with swimming excellence during his 31-year career as the Chargers' coach, watched the 100 freestyle final on TV.
I'm very happy for Jimmy, Marks said. It's been a longtime goal for him to make the Olympics and he achieved his goal. I'm very excited for him and it's very, very satisfying to me and all the people who have helped make Churchill swimming so successful.
Feigen set high school national records at Churchill
Marks also coached Josh Davis, who won a total of five medals, three gold and two silver, at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
What Josh did and what Jimmy is doing now says a lot about the stability of our program, Marks said. It makes me very gratified and happy for the athletes.
Feigen transferred to Churchill in 2005 after spending his freshman year at Reagan. By the time he graduated in 2008, which was Marks' last as the Chargers' coach, Feigen was well on his way to becoming one of the best swimmers in the country.
He set high school national records in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events before going on to greater heights at Texas. A four-time Big 12 swimmer of the year, Feigen won the 50 and 100 freestyle races at the NCAA championships in March.
Jimmy was always a very efficient swimmer, Marks said. When he came to Churchill, it was hard to figure out what he could improve on. We told him what we tell all young swimmers, to follow through on his strokes.
David Johnson, aquatics director for the North East Independent School District, which includes Churchill, recalled Feigen's early days in the pool.
I've known him since he was 8 years old, Johnson said. I saw him start out with the San Antonio Waves (a club team), become a Churchill swimmer and go on to the University of Texas. He's always come back and been around our kids. This is a wonderful thing for the North East district and Churchill.
Feigen also competing in 50-meter freestyle at Trials
Johnson, who has been NEISD aquatics director for the past 12 years, predicted a bright future for Feigen in the Olympics.
I truly think that 2016 is going to be his big year, Johnson said. From where he was in 2008 and where he is in 2012, he has improved so much. Four years from now, he'll be even better.
Like Marks, Johnson pointed to Feigen's smooth technique as the big key to his success.
Jimmy has pretty strokes and is very efficient, Johnson said. If you're efficient, you're going to be very fast. Jimmy has everything going for him. If you look at him and look at Josh and compare the two, you'll see that they both have very beautiful strokes. Josh is a student of the sport and Jimmy is a student of the sport.
Feigen also will try to make the Olympic team in the 50-meter freestyle. Preliminary heats start Saturday, with the final set for Sunday.
NEISD athletic director Jerry Comalander learned of Feigen's big night in a text message from Johnson.
The first thing I would say is congratulations to Jimmy, Comalander said. What a tremendous accomplishment. Secondly, it speaks to the quality of the aquatics program we have in our district, and have had for as long as I can remember.
Comalander praised Johnson and former NEISD aquatics director Bill Walker for their commitment to make the program one of the best in the state.
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