Schuh denied Olympic bid

by Tris Wykes

Traveling 5,557 miles is a long way for a few months of swim practice.
Just ask University junior Tanya Schuh, who traveled that distance from Minneapolis to Sao Paulo, Brazil several months ago in an attempt to become a member of Brazil’s Olympic women’s swimming team.
Since then however, Schuh’s effort has been short-circuited through little fault of her own.
A native of Lake Elmo, Minn., Schuh has dual citizenship because her mother, Maria Ignez Schuh, is Brazilian. Tanya’s father, G. Edward Schuh, is the dean of the University’s Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs.
Tanya Schuh, 21, thought she had qualified in the 100-meter butterfly event for Brazil at a February meet in Michigan. But that effort was later voided by Brazilian officials. Because Schuh failed to qualify in two later meets, she will not compete in Atlanta.
Gophers women’s swimming coach Jean Freeman said Schuh posted a time of 101.66 in the 100-meter butterfly at a February meet in Ann Arbor, Mich.
That meet occurred a day after the Big Ten Championships and was held to provide conference swimmers with international eligibility the opportunity to post Olympic qualifying marks. Schuh’s time bested her event’s Olympic qualifying standard of 101.69.
“We all believed she was on the Brazilian Olympic team),” Freeman said. “We sent the results in and then they started asking which kinds of officials were at the meet.”
While with the Gophers last winter, Schuh earned All-America honors for the second consecutive season by finishing second in the 100-yard butterfly at the NCAA Champion-ships in late March. She was also a member of three Gophers relay teams that earned honorable mention All-America honors.
Maria Ignez Schuh said that when her daughter returned from the NCAAs, a fax from the Brazilian Swimming Federation was waiting. It informed Schuh that her times from the Michigan meet would not be accepted because a Brazilian official had not been present.
“They didn’t tell us (a Brazilian official) had to be present until after she qualified,” Freeman said.
Despite the bad news, Schuh chose not to attend classes at the University during spring quarter and moved to Sao Paulo to train with Brazil’s national team.
“The men’s swimming coach at Michigan, John Urbanchek, set up (the February qualifying meet), and he knows the Brazilians very well,” Freeman said. “He said `They just get like that sometimes,’ and we figured if Tanya went down there and schmoozed a bit and showed how proud she was to be a Brazilian it would all work out.”
Instead, the Brazilians stuck to their newly created standards and even altered them further.
Schuh arrived in Brazil believing she had three meets ahead of her at which she could achieve a qualifying time approved by the Brazilian Swimming Federation.
But she failed to post such a mark in the first two meets and was recently informed that her times from the third meet, the Brazilian National Championships, which begin Thursday, will not count.
“Tanya said that for a week she was very angry,” said Freeman, who communicates with Schuh in Brazil via fax and phone. “She’s disappointed, but she also realizes she’s done everything she can do. It’s very hard to stay in peak form for as long as she has.”
Maria Ignez Schuh, an adviser for the International Fellows Program at the Humphrey Institute, said her daughter has been victimized and been given no explanation.
“They’ve stolen the Olympics from Tanya,” she said. “I feel very bad, kind of cheated. We’ve gotten no answers.”