Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 3:29 am | Fair 51º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank
Santa Barbara Athletic Round TableThe LabAmerican Riviera Bank

Santa Barbara’s Mark Warkentin Ready to Dive Into Olympic Trials

The swimmer and his coach head to Omaha, Neb., for Sunday's selection meet for the Beijing Olympics. Another local, Rachel Rys, will compete Wednesday.

Santa Barbara native Mark Warkentin, second from left, competes in Seville, Spain, in May against Evgeny Drattsev of Russia, left, and Ky Hurst of Australia. Warkentin finished seventh. Drattsev and Hurst tied for fifth. Warkentin now heads to Omaha, Neb., for the selection meet for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (John Dussliere / Santa Barbara Swim Club photo)

Every year, we proclaim the “world champion” team in football, baseball and basketball. Only once every four years do we get a chance to hear the stories and wave the flag behind the Olympian — an athlete who inspires even the best professional athletes. You can’t help but be inspired by the struggle of the common man in his quest to achieve uncommon results.

In Omaha, Neb., on Sunday, USA Swimming will begin its selection meet for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. You will see Michael Phelps do the impossible, you will see the relative unknown overcome their fears and nerves by rising from nowhere and surprising the world by taking down the favorite.

At this Olympic Trials, there is one thing you won’t see, and that is a nervous, fearful Santa Barbara native Mark Warkentin.

Warkentin has been through this selection meet three times before — three times without making the team, that is. He gets to go to this one to enjoy the 400-meter freestyle. He, along with one other American, Chloe Sutton, already has made the team.

On a beautiful spring morning in Seville, Spain, Warkentin had his day of nerves, confidence, gut-wrenching effort and, finally, glory as he qualified as the only American for the first 10k Marathon Swimming event held in Olympic history. It was history in the making for Warkentin and his coach, John Dussliere, head coach of the Santa Barbara Swim Club and the first U.S. 10k Olympic marathon coach.

“Mark and I are both going to this Trials to enjoy the atmosphere and gain inspiration along the way,” Dussliere said. “He’s not only the first 10k Olympian, he’s the first swimmer in history that can honestly go to the Olympic Trials with no pressure and get there in the middle of very hard training.”

Warkentin will be introduced to the sold-out Qwest Center crowd on Sunday, the first night of the Omaha Trials. “It will be a fun night. I made the team in May, but we were in Spain. Only my team, family and coaches were around us. I have always wondered what it’s like to be introduced as an Olympian,” Warkentin said. After Sunday night, he will know.

On Wednesday, another Santa Barbara native, Rachel Rys, will compete in the Trials for the Santa Barbara Swim Club in the women’s 200-meter butterfly event. Rys will be a junior next year at Northwestern University.

“Rachel has had her share of adversity this year as she was struck by an automobile near school and suffered a severe sprain in her wrist just over a month ago. It was touch and go for a few weeks as we did not know if she would be cleared to train or compete,” Dussliere said. “Sheer determination has been the key to Rachel’s success thus far, and she was not going to let this sideline her chances of competing in the Trials.”

Dussliere and his two swimmers will arrive in Omaha on Saturday for the competition. In Santa Barbara over the Fourth of July weekend, the Santa Barbara Swim Club will host the Semana Nautica Swim Meet at Dos Pueblos High School. The annual event is usually held at the Los Banos Del Mar pool, but it has been relocated because of the replacement of the deep-end wall project this summer.

“The city has done an outstanding job of helping us relocate all of our programs this summer during construction,” Dussliere said. “The school district and the Santa Barbara water polo foundation have also been very good to us in relocating a few of their programs so we can have a place to swim and compete this summer.”

Check out the TV schedule for the swimming Trials on

After the holiday weekend, Warkentin and Dussliere will head to Stanford University, where Dussliere spent six years as a volunteer assistant coach, to meet up with the U.S. Olympic Team as they begin an intense training camp for Beijing. The 10k marathon swim event will be Aug. 21 in the new Olympic rowing venue about 40 kilometers outside of Beijing.

John Dussliere is head coach of the Santa Barbara Swim Club and Santa Barbara Masters.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >