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Rochester Hills Sends Runner, Swimmer to Olympics This Week

Here's what you need to know about hometown Olympians Peter Vanderkaay and Desiree Davila.

Rochester Hills will be well-represented in London starting this week.

Swimmer Peter Vanderkaay and marathoner Desiree Davila, both with ties to Rochester Hills, are on Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Vanderkaay, 28, a 2002 graduate of , is a three-time world champion Olympic Medalist (two gold, one bronze). This is his third consecutive trip to the summer Olympics.

Vanderkaay will compete in the 400-meter freestyle, one of the first events. The preliminary heats are at 5:47 a.m. (eastern time) July 28; the finals will be at 2:30 p.m. that day. 

Davila, the fastest American distance runner right now, trains with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, based in Rochester Hills.

She will compete in the women's marathon, which will be held at 6 a.m. (eastern time) Aug. 5.

'I never thought I would ever be an Olympian'

Vanderkaay elaborates on his pool resume and writes about his journey to the Olympics on his website, www.petervanderkaay.com.

"My journey in the sport of swimming began at age seven when I joined my first summer club team," he writes. "From there, I became involved with the Oakland Live Y’ers on a year round basis."

Vanderkaay studied and swam at the University of Michigan; In 2006 he was named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year. In addition to his Olympic titles, he is a three-time world champion. He lives and trains in Gainesville, Florida. His three brothers are also competitive swimmers.

In London, Vanderkaay will race in one of the first events of this year's Olympic games. His family, which includes parents Mark and Robin and brothers Christian, Alex and Dane (also competitive swimmers), have created celebratory t-shirts with a "Vanderkaay USA" design as a fundraiser for a Detroit YMCA swim program. You can order the shirts through July 30 here

"I never thought I would ever be an Olympian but its funny how some things come together," Vanderkaay writes on his website. "My successes are truly a testament to those who have helped me along the way.  

"The road to where I am right now has not been easy, but I have learned a lot about myself through this journey."

Distance running's fastest American woman

It was running that brought California native Desiree Davila to Rochester Hills seven years ago.

Davila trains with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, run by brothers Kevin and Keith Hanson. She is often seen running around the trails in Rochester Hills and northern Oakland County.

In 2011 she . In that race, she clocked the fastest time ever by an American woman: 2:22:38.

She'll represent Team USA in the Olympics marathon on Aug. 5; she'll attempt to be the country's first medal-winner in a marathon event since 2004.

In an after the Boston Marathon last year, Kevin Hanson alluded to how well Davila responds to pressure situations, including her success in races wearing a USA uniform. 

“She has never put the USA uniform on without running a personal best,” Hanson said. “Sometimes pressure freezes people, but for her it tends to be the opposite. I wouldn’t say that’s always true in every athlete.”

For the latest updates on Vanderkaay and Davila at the Olympics, follow Rochester Patch on Facebook.

Cindy livingston July 23, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Awesome. Congratulations to these top notch athletes. We will be cheering you on.

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