Locals shine at USA National Championships

Gabe and Prudence Rooker fare well against some of the nation's top swimmers

August has already been a busy month for Gabe and Prudence Rooker, who spent the last two weeks in Palo Alto, Calif., swimming at the USA National Championships and also at Junior Nationals, both of which were held at the Avery Aquatics Center on the Stanford University campus.

Gabe Rooker, a rising senior at Forest Grove High School, became the first local swimmer in seven years to earn a bid to the U.S. Olympic Trials, which will be held in Omaha, Neb., in June of 2012.

Meanwhile, sister Prudence Rooker, a freshman-to-be at Forest Grove, also swam well in California, turning in a number of excellent performances at both events.

The siblings kicked off their long two-week stretch at USA Nationals from Aug. 2-6, followed by Junior Nationals - exclusively for athletes 18 and under - from Aug. 8-12.

Gabe Rooker swam to 14th place in the 200-meter backstroke at Junior Nationals with an automatic Olympic Trial qualifying time of 2:20.32. In the process, he became the first Forest Grove athlete to earn an invite to the Olympic Trials since Derek Rose, who accomplished the feat in 2004 while swimming the 100-meter backstroke for the University of Washington.

Rooker stayed busy for the rest of the week, swimming a number of other events at Junior Nationals. He finished 29th in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:05.34), 123rd in the 200 freestyle (1:57.12), 137th in the 100 freestyle (53.63) and 143rd in the 200 individual medley (2:12.50).

Prudence Rooker turned in her best performance during the lead leg of the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, swimming a time of 57.72. Individually, she swam to 38th place in the 50 freestyle (26.88), 51st in the 100 free (58.31), 53rd in the 100 breaststroke (1:14.92), 93rd in the 200 breaststroke (2:44.62), and 164th in the 100 butterfly (1:05.07).

At the USA National Championships, both local athletes competed against the best swimmers in the country, many of whom were just returning from the World Championships in China.

Gabe Rooker turned in his best performance in the 200-meter breaststroke, missing an Olympic Trial qualifying time by less than a tenth of a second. Rooker's time of 2:20.86 put him in 65th place, narrowly missing the qualifying standard of 2:20.79.

Gabe competed in two other events at USA Nationals, finishing 92nd in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:05.49) and 138th in the 200-meter freestyle (1:57.19).

Prudence Rooker also swam in three events at USA Nationals, finishing 113th in the 50-meter freestyle (26.89), 133rd in the 100 breaststroke (1:14.79), and 126th in the 100 freestyle (58.35).

Gabe and Prudence Rooker train in Beaverton with the Tualatin Hills Swim Cub. Other team members at this meet were Aaron Young of Hillsboro High School, Michell Cefal of Westview, Taylor Lakey of Southridge, Cameron Stitt of Sunset, and Megan McCarroll of Jesuit.

Cefal earned Olympic Trial qualifications in both the 100- and 200-meter butterfly, while Stitt qualified in the 1,500 freestyle.