OMAHA, Neb. — The trunks are on the hanger and the pool is now closed.
After eight years of swimming for a living, Elko Native Bart Steninger wrapped up his aquatic career last week, nearly a decade of spending as much time in a pool as on land.
Competing at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha, Neb. Steninger came up short in the 200 breaststroke Thursday missing out on advancing to the semifinals.
The next day he was disqualified in the 200 Medley by an ambiguous and technical rule.
They were the final races of his career.
“Next is real life I guess,” Steninger said.
In the breaststroke he finished in 2 minutes and 18.18 seconds finishing 51st overall.
There was more than 130 racers in the qualifying event for the Olympic Games in London.
It was Steninger’s second trip to the U.S. Olympic swim trials. During his first trip in 2008 he had semifinaled, making the top 16 finalists. This time around he hoped to do better and make the finals.
“I didn’t accomplish my personal goal, but I step back and look where in the sport I am and that’s still a pretty high mark. As a competitor and athlete I always want more, but I can find joy in what I’ve done,” Steninger said.
He also acknowledges that he couldn’t do anything else to improve his races and that “helps me sleep at night.”
As a fifth generation Elko native Steninger received a lot of local financial help and support, especially from the Elko Federal Credit Union, helping him train and make the U.S. Olympic swim trials.
“I wouldn’t have been able to make this run the last year and a half without them,” Steninger said gratefully.
Even without the Olympics on his resume, Steninger wraps up an amazing career.
“I was able to do some amazing things in my swimming career that I never thought I’d be able to do,” he said.
Chief among them was winning an NCAA team championship for the University of Arizona in Tuscon, Ariz., in 2008. That year Steninger was captain of the squad.
Despite missing out on the Olympics, he was able to see three of his professional team members, so far, make the Olympics, giving him plenty of reasons to watch the games.
This included his one teammate of the Tuscon Ford Dealers Aquatics Club winning the 200 breaststroke.
As for Steninger, he’ll back in his hometown in the next couple weeks to help his father out on the ranch. After that he expects a job offer in Reno and to begin the next stage of his life.
It’s one he’s ready to undertake.
“I’m excited for the next step of my life. The last eight years of my life, every day in and day out I’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping swimming,” Steninger said.