OMAHA, Neb. — It was not her best finish. This time, however, the most important part of Megan Romano's swim was the start.
Romano, the 17-year-old from St. Petersburg, made her debut in the U.S. Olympic trials Monday morning when she finished fourth in her heat in the 100-meter backstroke and did not advance to the final.
For Romano, however, the swim was more like a test drive than a race. Before racing in today's 200-meter freestyle, her best event, Romano wanted to get the feel of the pool and the atmosphere.
"We thought about (not competing)," said Romano, who has struggled with her stamina as she recovers from mononucleosis. "But I wanted to get into the pool and see what it was like before the 200.
"I was happy with what I did. It was about what I expected."
Despite the mono, Romano's time of 1 minute, 3.6 seconds was just shy of her personal best, 1:03.29, and it left her 55th in a field of 121.
All things considered, it wasn't a bad race.
Rhonda Romano, Megan's mother, remembered that the last time Megan swam the 100 back, she could barely use her arms.
"I thought she looked great, especially when you compare it with how she looked last weekend," Rhonda said.
The 200 free won't be easy for Romano. It has always had one of the deepest fields in the United States. This time, American record holder Katie Hoff, Natalie Coughlin and Julie Smit are entered. In all, 30 in the field have posted faster times than Romano's personal best.
"I'm going to do my best," Romano said. "I think I can do pretty well."