The first American to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games was not Michael Phelps, LeBron James, or Hope Solo.
Instead, it was Alex Meyer ’10, the former Crimson swimming co-captain who earned his place in London after competing in the men’s 10-kilometer open water race at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai on Tuesday night. Meyer’s time of 1:54.33.1 was good for fourth place along with a spot in next summer’s Olympics.
Just 25 men and 25 women will be eventually selected to participate in the 10-kilometer race, set to take place in Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park. By finishing in the top 10 at the World Championships, Meyer was the only American to guarantee himself a spot in the competition.
At Harvard the swimmer earned All-American status by recording the second-fastest time in school history in the 1,650 freestyle during his senior year. After graduating, Meyer began training for the open water competition, and he won a gold medal at the open water world championships in Roberval, Canada, just two months later.
After that race, Alex’s mother, Shawn, told The Crimson that her son’s goal was to represent the United States in London—an aspiration that has now been met.
The 2012 Olympics will be just the second to feature the dangerous open water event, which debuted in Beijing in 2008. The sport has been dominated by calls for safety reforms this past year, after Meyer’s friend and roommate, Fran Crippen, drowned in October at the World Cup final in the United Arab Emirates. Meyer continues to carry a photo of Crippen everywhere he competes, and told ESPN he continues to visualize racing with his former teammate to this day.
Next summer, he’ll have the chance to imagine Crippen alongside him at the event they had both dreamt of taking part in—the Olympics.