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GOING FOR THE GOLD: Jordan Wilimovsky, 18, is headed to Omaha, Neb. for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials and is the only high school-age swimmer in West Los Angeles to make the cut. (photo by Sean Fitz-gerald)

SMC — “You’re 2:46.6, back in 1:06.0,” Dave Kelsheimer says to Jordan Wilimovsky. “Not bad — still a little bit of a lift. We’re seeing a little bit too much of your face.”

Kelsheimer, coach of the nonprofit swim club Team Santa Monica (TSM), has been working with Wilimovsky, 18, for nearly two years. On June 29, the pair will head to Omaha, Neb. for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

A senior at Malibu High School, Wilimovsky is the only high school-age swimmer to qualify for the trials in West Los Angeles. Wilimovsky made two Olympic Trials’ cuts — the 400-meter individual medley and the 1500-meter freestyle — but will only be going for the 1500.

Practicing every morning Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, every afternoon on weekdays and every morning Saturday, Wilimovsky says he feels ready for the race.

“It’s not that tough if you know you’ve done all this [training] for it,” Wilimovsky says. “If you’re prepared, you’re good … you just swim your own race.”

Kelsheimer, who came on board TSM in 2010, says that he pushes Wilimovsky and the other swimmers because he’s familiar with the quality and rigor of other elite programs.

“We’re taking on some of the best in the U.S. and some of the best in the world,” he says. “If you want the success that someone else has, all you have to do is work as hard as they did to get their success. So if I know that 99 percent of the planet’s successful swimmers are training 10 times a week, I better be training 10 times a week.”

Kelsheimer has worked with athletes in Australia, the Cayman Islands and the U.S., and with him at the helm TSM has seen an exponential increase in its own success.

This year, TSM has three Olympic Trials qualifiers: Eugene Tee, representing Australia; Samuel Lameynardie, representing France; and Wilimovsky, representing the U.S. The club also has a number of swimmers going to the U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open Qualifiers, the Jr. Nationals and National Club Swimming Association Jr. Qualifiers, the Sectional Team Qualifiers and one, Serafina King, going to the 2012 Paralympic Trials.

Outside the pool, Kelsheimer has been named assistant coach of the U.S. National Junior Team for the 2012 Fédération Internationale de Natation World Junior Open Water Championships. The championships will take place Aug. 12-20 in the Welland Recreational Canal in Ontario, Canada and TSM will send Wilimovsky, Brendan Casey and Liliana Casso to represent the U.S.

“The kids who are qualifying for the big meets and finding the success now are the ones who, in the first meeting I had with the team said, ‘OK, let’s do this. Whatever it takes,’” Kelsheimer says.

Wilimovsky says he enjoys training with TSM not just because of the club’s opportunities, but also because of the competitive nature of his teammates. Every practice is a contest.

“It’s a true Thunderdome of training and that creates a real atmosphere of fun for these guys,” adds Kelsheimer.

Though TSM has seen the fruits of many positive changes, Kelsheimer elucidates that the road up to this point did not come hassle-free.

“Because the youth swim teams haven’t been as focused on developing high performance athletes, a lot of the pool space has been taken up in those early morning times by adult groups,” he says. “So for us — changing that culture to bring these kids up to the speed of the rest of the country — there have been some logistical challenges.”

Kelsheimer says, however, that the city of Santa Monica and Amy Cramer, manager at the Santa Monica Swim Center, have been pivotal in helping the Santa Monica-based swim club grow. Thanks to their flexibility, Kelsheimer says he has been able to utilize the pools for the training sessions that kids like Wilimovsky need.

“It’s pretty special: the first time you earn a U.S.A. tracksuit,” Kelsheimer says. “For these young swimmers, this is a pretty special opportunity, and we hope that it’s the first step on a journey that can lead to some of these kids making those even higher level teams — like the Olympic team.”

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