UPDATE: Shannon Vreeland wins Olympic gold http://bit.ly/OKZbWy
LONDON - Overland Park native Shannon Vreeland made her Olympic debut Wednesday morning, helping advance her team to the finals in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay.
Vreeland's team won her race and qualified second overall among the two heats with a time of 7:50.75. Australia, who swam in the first heat, qualified first with a time of 7:49.44.
Vreeland graduated from Blue Valley West High School.
"Thanks for all the support everyone!!" she tweeted about two hours after the race. "It means so much! Really happy with my swim today!! Just being here is a dream come true! #USA"
Vreeland's teammates were Lauren Perdue, who swam first, and Alyssa Anderson and Dana Vollmer, who finished off the race. Vreeland swam second.
On Tuesday, their male counterparts in the 4x200m freestyle relay earned Michael Phelps his record 19th career Olympic medal by winning the race.
Vreeland, 20, was not guaranteed a spot in Wednesday's finals. Team USA coaches had a choice to make on the final two participants.
Jack Bauerle, the coach at the University of Georgia swim team, on which Vreeland is a member, called the school's athletic department and told them Vreeland was selected as a participant in the finals, according to Steven Colquitt, Associate Director of Sports Communications for the University of Georgia.
Bauerle called Vreeland's performance in the preliminary round "the swim of her life and she couldn't have picked a better time to do it," Colquitt said.
Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin, who finished first and second, respectively, in the 200m freestyle USA trials in Omaha, were the only two sure-things to compete in the finals, Vreeland told 41 Action News Friday during a Skype interview.
"I know the four girls that end up on that finals relay are going to do amazing," Vreeland said Friday. "Hopefully, they will be competing for gold for the US. It will be awesome."
Schmitt is a teammate of Vreeland's not only at the Olympics, but also on the Georgia swim team. Brittany MacLean, who will compete in the race for Team Canada, also attends the university, meaning the Bulldogs will have three participants in Wednesday afternoon's race.
Vreeland, Schmitt and Franklin will be joined by Vollmer in the finals.
Joining Team USA in the finals will be, in order of qualifying, Australia, (USA) Canada, Italy, France, China, Great Britain and Japan.
The finals will take place at approximately 3:05 p.m. CT. They will be broadcast during primetime coverage beginning at 7 p.m. CT.