Raleigh native Charlie Houchin and Charlotte native Matt Patton both took a step toward their first Olympic berth Monday afternoon – but they will need to take an even bigger one tonight. You can watch their efforts live on NBC (8-9 p.m. Eastern).
Houchin and Patton both qualified for the eight-man final in the 400 men’s freestyle tonight in Omaha, Neb. Houchin had the third-fastest time and Patton had the fourth-fastest. They would both have to improve that placement slightly to make it – only the top two finishers earn a trip to London.
(MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Neither Houchin nor Patton made the squad in the event, although they do have other events to go. Houchin finished fourth and Patton seventh. Houchin led at the 350-meter mark but was passed by three swimmers after the final turn).
Making the top eight of an 111-man field in the 400 free is no small feat, however. Houchin and Patton swam side by side in the fastest heat of the 12 contested in the preliminaries. All four of the top times came from that heat, with Connor Jaeger finishing first and Conor Dwyer second, Houchin third and Patton fourth.
Houchin, who won multiple individual state championships swimming for Raleigh Enloe, now trains in Jacksonville, Fla. Patton swam at Charlotte’s Butler High. Both men swam collegiately at Michigan. Matt has a twin, Sean, who swam collegiately at Texas but no longer swims competitively.