Hali Flickinger earns Olympic swimming berth in 200 fly

Patrick Strohecker
  • Flickinger qualified for the Olympics by finishing second in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:07.50.
  • Flickinger graduated from Spring Grove in 2012.
  • Flickinger swam for York YMCA before winning three national championships at the Univ. of Georgia.

Spring Grove High School graduate Hali Flickinger is heading to Rio.

Spring Grove High School graduate Hali Flickinger, right, hugs Cammile Adams after finishing second to Adams in the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. Flickinger finished seventh in the event at Rio.

The former York YMCA standout and University of Georgia swimmer qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics by finishing second in the 200-meter butterfly final on Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Her time of 2 minutes, 7.50 seconds only trailed Camille Adams' winning time of 2:06.80.

"I can't," a breathless Flickinger told NBC Sport's Michele Tafoya, when asked to describe her emotions following the race. "I'm just so excited. I've looked up to Camille since I was younger and can't believe I'm going to be on the Olympic team with her. I'm so excited."

Flickinger went into the event with the second-fastest time from Wednesday night's semifinals, qualifying for the final in a time of 2:07.79. Needing to finish in the top two on Thursday to make the Olympic team, Flickinger cut .29 seconds off her semifinal time. Going into Omaha, the 200 fly was Flickinger's best shot at qualifying for the Olympic team. She came into the event with the fourth-fastest time.

For Flickinger, it was her eighth swim of the Team Trials and her second shot at qualifying for the Olympic Games. She finished eighth in the 100 fly final on Monday night.

"I couldn't be more excited to go to Rio with this girl," Adams told NBC Sports in reference to Flickinger after the race.

Making the Olympic team also completed a remarkable four-year turnaround for Flickinger, who finished 25th in the 200 fly at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

According to the Middle Atlantic Swim Twitter account, @midatlanticswim, Flickinger's Olympic-qualifying time was also the 14th fastest time in the world this year.

When Flickinger competes for Team USA in the Rio Games, she'll be the first York County swimmer to do so since Whitney Metzler competed in the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Metzler, who is a Dallastown grad, finished in eighth at the 1996 Games in the 400 individual medley. It's also the second straight Olympics that a York County product will compete. Glen Rock's Summer Britcher, a Susquehannock grad, competed in luge at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, finishing 15th.

Flickinger qualified for seven events at the Team Trials, held at the CenturyLink Center, but opted to swim in just four. She'll be one of 26 members to compete for the women's Olympic team at the Rio Games, with the top two finishers in each event making the team.

The 2016 Olympic Games begin on Friday, Aug. 5 and run until Sunday, Aug. 21. According to the event schedule, Flickinger will compete in the 200 fly on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Spring Grove's Hali Flickinger will compete in this week's U.S. National Championships less than a year after swimming in the 2016 Olympics.

Standout at Georgia: While qualifying for the Olympics might be Flickinger's biggest swimming accomplishment to date, it hardly stands alone.

Flickinger was an accomplished swimmer in her four years with Georgia, helping the program to three national titles during her freshman, sophomore and senior years.

Individually, Flickinger started coming into her own during her junior season, when she won the 400 individual medley and came in second in the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly to help the Lady Bulldogs win a sixth straight Southeastern Conference championship. During that season, Flickinger wound up taking second place in the 400 IM at the NCAA tournament.

But, it wasn't until this past season, her senior campaign, when Flickinger really made her mark. She won the 200 fly at the SEC tournament and then captured fourth in the event at the NCAA tournament. She also finished fourth in the 200 free and third in the 500 free. However, on the relay teams is where she really shined, helping the 800 free relay team capture first at the NCAA tournament, the 400 free relay team take second and 400 medley relay team to fourth at the event.

In her time with Georgia, Flickinger set the school record in the 200 back and 200 fly, ranks second in the 400 IM and third in the 500 free.

Other York County swimmers: Fresh off a seventh-place result in the 200 IM on Wednesday night, the York YMCA's Meghan Small was back in the pool on Thursday. She didn't fare nearly as well, however, finishing 86th in the 200-meter breast preliminaries with a time of 2:36.39.

York Suburban grad Coleman Stewart swam in his final event of the Team Trials on Thursday, taking 78th in the 200-meter back prelims with a time of 2:04.74. Stewart swims at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, the same club Michael Phelps swam at, and will be swimming for NC State next year.

Franklin struggles again: For Missy Franklin, it was another miss at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

The star of the London Games struggled to an 11th-place showing in the semifinals of the 100-meter freestyle Thursday night, failing to even make it to the final. That leaves Franklin with only one individual race in Rio and just one more chance to bulk up her program: the 200 backstroke.

Nathan Adrian, the burly 27-year-old who won the 100 freestyle in London, used a powerful finishing kick to win in 47.72 seconds. Caeleb Dressel will also get to swim the down-and-back sprint in Rio, taking the second spot at 48.23.

On the fifth night of the meet, Josh Prenot became the latest Olympic rookie to make the team, knocking off Kevin Cordes in the 200 breaststroke.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.