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St. Anthony's Swimmer Heads to Olympic Trials [Video]

Christian Yeager will take on Michael Phelps in the 200 backstroke at U.S. Olympic Trials.

Christian Yeager boarded a flight bound for Omaha, Neb. – and a promising future as an Olympic hopeful swimmer – Friday afternoon.

Flight time was just a few hours. When will the recent graduate finally reach the pinnacle of his sport? That may take years.

It’s a journey that began swimming laps as a 4-year-old at the in Huntington Bay. The latest stop takes Yeager to the U.S. Olympic Trials, which begin Monday, and head-to-head competition with Michael Phelps.

Yeager, 18, who in the fall, will .

“This is going to be a real experience type of meet,” Yeager said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before.”

He took home the in 200-yard IM in Buffalo last March, winning in 1 minute, 49.06 seconds. It was the second fastest time by a high school swimmer in state history.

It’s no surprise when you consider how many miles of water Yeager has plowed through in his quest for speed. Yeager could be found in the pool at in East Meadow Thursday evening, just as can could nearly every night the last two years.

Older brother, Kyle, had asthma, so swimming was recommended. Then his sister began swimming. Christian didn’t have a choice but to join his siblings in the pool. But once he did, he embraced it.

“It became a family thing,” Christian said. “We just loved it. When I was little I was a terrible swimmer. It was just fun for me. I loved to get into a pool and race.”

He joined Team Suffolk in Dix Hills at 6. He trained three days a week year round before moving to Long Island Aquatic Club two years ago, where Yeager took his passion for the sport to another level.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday saw Yeager take in morning practice at 6 a.m. in East Meadow. And after a day of school and homework, he returned to the pool each evening. Saturday workouts, however, were unscripted and as long and intense as Coach Dave Ferris decided.  

LIAC, not coincidentally, for the Olympic Trials. Six will compete.

Yeager may not earn a spot on the 2012 Olympic team, but there’s no doubt he has the drive and talent to get there eventually.

“He’s got nothing but great things happening,” Ferris said. “He’s going to a great program at Harvard. The coach is a wonderful coach. I see Christian being one of the elite swimmers in America in a couple of years.”

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