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June 28, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. – Virginia swimmer Lauren Perdue (Greenville, N.C.) punched her ticket to London Thursday with a fourth-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle, officially earning an Olympic bid as a relay member. Additionally, former Cavalier Scot Robison (Charlotte, N.C.) tied for fifth in the semifinal of the 100-meter freestyle to move on to the event final Friday night.

Perdue, a rising senior, hit the wall fourth in a time of 1:57.75 and will swim in London as part of the 4×200 relay team. The top three finishers – Allison Schmitt (1:54.40, American record), Missy Franklin (1:56.79) and Dana Vollmer (1:57.47) – had already earned spots on the Olympic Team prior to the 200-meter freestyle race.

“It was a great field; so many competitors,” Perdue said after the race. “Everyone in that heat is so talented. I am really new to this. I was out with a back injury for most of the year, so it was really exciting to get out there and race. My (UVa) teammates are very happy … that was all for them.”

“There is no greater honor is sports than to represent your country and compete for a chance at gold medal in the Olympic Games,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “Trying to make the U.S. Olympic Team is no small feat; you have to be one of the best two or four people in the nation – that’s what it boils down to. Lauren is one of the best at what she does, and that speaks volumes.”

Perdue missed the NCAA Championships in March to undergo a surgical procedure on her back; she is a 12-time All-American and 17-time ACC champion in her first three seasons at Virginia. She was the 2011 NCAA runner-up in the 200-yard freestyle.

“It’s been a long, long year,” Perdue continued. “I did not think in a million years that I would be here right now. My faith in God pushed me through it; He really brought me through this in a really good way.”

Perdue joins former Cavalier Matt McLean on the U.S. Olympic Team, though McLean’s official invitation to the team comes Monday night, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events, according to USA Swimming.

“It’s an incredible testament to the excellence of our program,” Bernardino said. “We recruit excellent young men and women who have strong work ethics and contain the highest levels of mental toughness, courage and fortitude. With all that Lauren has overcome this past year with her injury – that is a pretty significant story of courage in and of itself.”

Robison, who completed his eligibility at UVa in 2011, tied for fifth place with Ryan Lochte as they both touched in 48.91. He was the top seed out of prelims with a mark of 49.09. At Virginia, Robison was a 21-time All-American and is still the ACC record holder in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle events in addition to being the school record holder in the 50-yard freestyle.

Rising sophomore Alison Haulsee (Glen Allen, Va.) moved up one spot in the semifinals of the 200-meter butterfly to place 15th overall, touching in 2:12.59.

Day five of Olympic Trials continues Friday morning with preliminaries in the women’s 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter breaststroke and the men’s 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley.

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