Hattiesburg swimmer chases spot on US Olympic squad - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg swimmer chases spot on US Olympic squad

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Ty Stewart has been in a pool since he was six years old. At the end of June, he'll take his first step at realizing a dream he's had since the age of 12; swimming in the Olympic Games as member of the United States National Team.

"He's talked about it since day one," says Ty's coach, Steve Panzram, "When you hear a 12-year old talk to you about the Olympic games, you kind of go, 'Yeah, Ok. Whatever.'"

Stewart will get his shot at the US Olympic Trials, which take place from June 25 through July 2 in Omaha, Nebraska. In order to make the team in time for the London games, he'll have to finish in the top two, which he says is a bit of a stretch at this point in his career.

"My goal is to place top eight, which is as close to realistic as I can be," said Stewart. The 2016 Olympics, however, are very much a realistic possibility. "It's when I'll be a senior in college. So, I'll be done with college training," he says, "I'll be my most ready I'll ever be for sure."

Panzram isn't fully sold on the idea that making the 2012 team is out of the question. "He may say he doesn't have a chance, but you never say never," said Panzram, "I think everybody's got a chance.

"I've seen some pretty long shots make the team."

If records mean anything, Ty isn't that much of a long shot. He's established himself as one of the most prolific swimmers in the history of Mississippi. As a home-schooled student, he doesn't compete within the high school ranks, but if he did, he would own the Mississippi record books.

"(Ty) would hold every single high school record in this state, except maybe one; the 50 free," says Panzram.

Stewart committed to the University of Georgia earlier in May. These days, his training continues at the Hattiesburg YMCA, where he's competed with the Hub Fins. Panzram hopes Stewart performs well, but also hopes he simply enjoys the experience.

"It would be a long shot if he made the team," he says, "but I want him to go up there, enjoy the experience, to swim fast and compete and see what happens."

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