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Though it didn’t steal national headlines, quietly one of the most revealing performances of the 2012 Olympic Trials was that of high school senior Danielle Valley, who swam her way into an out-of-nowhere 8:36.59 in prelims of the women’s 800. That was an eight-second lifetime best to leapfrog a very deep event and into the Olympic Trials final.
Valley will now take her distance skill to Gainesville, as she today verbally committed to Gregg Troy and the Florida Gators.
That swim earned her a spot on the American Jr. Pan Pacs team, where she placed 9th officially in the longest event on the women’s Olympic schedule. She actually touched the wall with the 4th-best time, but meet rules relegated her to 4th.
That 800 isn’t a perfect comparison to any NCAA event, though, but her yards times are equally as impressive. She’s got a best of 4:43.56 in the 500 free from her junior year of high school and a 16:10.19 in the mile. That 500 time won last year’s Florida 2A high school state championship by roughly 12 seconds. In fact, it was the fastest time among all three of Florida Divisions by four seconds, ahead of fellow Florida commit and Sarasota YMCA swimmer Taylor Katz at the 3A meet.
Valley also has a 4:19.13 in the 400 IM, which is likely to be her third NCAA event.
Given her long course improvements, don’t be surprised if we see explosive times from her in yards this season. That’s especially true if she goes after a yards taper meet this season where the 1650 is an available event (it isn’t on the high school schedule). We could perhaps even see her dip under 16 minutes before ever heading to Florida.
Valley is a club teammate of Katz, but they swim for different high schools as Valley goes to Lakewood Ranch Senior High School.