EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- The USA Swimming Winter Nationals went about as well as possible for the Michigan State Swimming & Diving program. Not only did the Spartan men take first place in the collegiate competition, but two junior male swimmers qualified for the Olympic Trials.
Scott Piper made the cut in the 200M IM with a time of 2:03.69, a new school record.
"Looking up and seeing that time it was just really emotional. My parents My parents were there too so I looked up in the stands and saw them. My coach and my teammates were on the side of the pool so just a lot of built up enthusiasm there at the end of the race", said Piper.
He will be joined at the Olympic Trials by teammate Payton Woods who qualified in the 50M Free with a time of 23.05 seconds. Woods dedicated his performance to his late grandfather, a man that he says pushed him to be a better athlete.
"My mom and grandma were at the meet and after I got the cut time I looked up in the stands and I actually began to cry. My grandfather who really got me into swimming passed away in October and it had always been a goal of mine and I had communicated with him that it was a goal of mine to get to the Olympic trials. To finally achieve it, it was kind of for him and having my mom and grandma there was a really good experience for me", said Woods.
Michigan State swimming and diving head coach Matt Gianiodis was not surprised by Piper's or Woods' success.
"Well Scott is a 4.0 student here in the honors college for biosystem engineering so I think his worth ethic speaks for itself and Payton is the same way. He's a good student, a good worker and racer, a great competitor and athlete", Gianiodis said.
Gianiodis also said that his swimmers' success gives his program a boost, "It means a lot for us because neither of those guys came as nationally qualifying swimmers when they got here. So they've really developed and improved through their hard work here at Michigan State."
The Olympic Trials meet isn't until June of 2020, so in the meantime, Piper and Woods will continue to work in hopes of improving their times.