Greg and Linda Raab pulled a couple of chairs up to a computer in their Rockville home on Monday evening in hopes of seeing their son, Michael, take a step closer to achieving his Olympic dream.
Michael Raab had come agonizingly close to qualifying for the Athens Games on Saturday when the 2001 Walter Johnson graduate placed third in the 200 meter butterfly final at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Long Beach, Calif., finishing behind phenom Michael Phelps and former Olympic champion Tom Malchow.
Only the top two finishers in each event make the Olympic team, and just four-tenths of a second separated Raab from second place.
Greg and Linda had returned from Long Beach on Monday afternoon after spending the week cheering for their son. They were relegated to watching live results of the 100 butterfly semifinals -- Michael's secondary event -- on the internet.
"It would be so great to see him make the finals," Linda Raab said.
But another loaded field -- which again included Phelps -- left Raab coming up just short again. He placed fifth in his heat and 10th overall, only the top eight advanced to the finals.
"It's absolutely been a thrill," Linda Raab said. "If you told my husband and I 10 years ago that this is what we would be doing, we'd say 'You're crazy.' "
Raab, the 2001 All-Met swimmer of the year, who set a Pan Am Games record for the 200 butterfly in 2002 , was among the highlights from a group of nearly a dozen Montgomery swimmers competing at the Olympic Trials -- which concluded on Wednesday.
A pair of locals swimming out of the Curl-Burke Swim Club turned in particularly strong performances in the finals of the 200 breaststroke.
Churchill 1998 graduate Ethan Basset placed seventh, just out-touching eighth place finisher Ryan Hurley, who graduated from Georgetown Prep last spring. Both Basset and Hurley were a part of history, as the race featured a new world record set by Brendan Hansen.
Rachael Burke, a 2002 Good Counsel graduate, was making her second appearance at the Olympic Trials. After placing 44th in the 400 freestyle, Burke reached the 800 freestyle semifinals before finishing 15th.
Walter Johnson swim coach Jamie Grimes competed in the 1,500 freestyle -- which was not completed in time to be included in this edition.
"It's real neat to see so many great swimmers from Montgomery," said former Walter Johnson Swim Coach Greg Dunston, who coached Raab in high school. "It's so great to see [Raab] advance. He was always on top of his game when he was swimming in Montgomery County. I wish he would have made it to the Olympics, but it was nice to see him finish in the top three. . . . He's young, only 21. So he has another four years."