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Shackells celebrate strong starts for brother, sister duo at U.S. Olympic swimming trials

US Swimming Olympic Trials
Posted at 7:23 AM, Jun 17, 2024
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Aaron Shackell celebrated his Olympic dream by throwing his goggles and swim cap to the ground Saturday night after winning the men's 400-meter freestyle.

Alex Shackell fully anticipated the move as she watched her brother competing from the warm-up pool while her parents watched the unbelievable evening play out from the stands.

It was a perfect first day at the U.S. Olympic trials for the Shackell family.

Aaron Shackell became the first American to qualify for the Paris Games by winning his race with a time of 3 minutes, 45.46 seconds — just minutes after his younger sister finished second in the first heat of the women's 100 butterfly to qualify for Sunday's final.

“My mom is probably crying,” Alex Shackell said. “He has all these interesting celebrations, so I knew he would do something."

The Shackells certainly know all about swimming.

Their father, Nick, was an All-American at Auburn who made England's 1996 Olympic team. Their mother, Ali, also was an All-American swimmer at Auburn and all three of their children are among the 1,007 swimmers who qualified for the nine-day meet in Indianapolis.

But few scripts play out this perfectly.

They're competing just a short drive from their home in Carmel, Indiana, a northern suburb of Indianapolis with a perennial powerhouse swim team and, in front of a record-breaking indoor meet crowd of 20,689, they got off to the best start possible.

Alex Shackell finished second in her heat with a time of 56.78 seconds. Only three swimmers in that event went faster — Olympic favorites Torri Huske and new world-record holder Gretchen Walsh and Regan Smith.

And Alex Shackell made sure she didn't miss seeing her brother's first race.

“I went down to the warm-up pool and they wanted to drug test me,” she said. “I asked if I could watch my brother.”

And he put on a show, edging out Kieran Smith by three-tenths of a second. Smith was a member of the American Olympic team in Tokyo.