"It could not be a better morning in London ... On to the 1,500. Go Conor!" ~ Olympian dad Eric Jaeger on Twitter before his son's first swim as an Olympian.
Connor Jaeger is in! The 21-year-old Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate has qualified for the medal round of the 2012 Summer Olympics by about a second and a half, coming in seventh out of eight qualifiers.
His time was 14:57.56 and the swimmer he beat had a time of 14:59.05.
This was the scene from the start Friday:
It was awfully dark, still and sleepy on the streets of Fair Haven at 5 a.m.
But, way "over the pond" from London, inside a small corner of the borough in the Knights of Columbus hall, was a room full of hundreds of flag-waving cheering fans of Connor Jaeger, Fair Haven's Olympian hometown sports hero.
Minutes before Jaeger took to the water for the 1,500 meter freestyle heat, the crowd of hundreds chanted, "USA! USA!" Fair Haven Recreation Director Charlie Hoffman hopped on a chair and said, "I have good news. Everyone, Connor today had swim times in the trials of more than 15 minutes. Connor was under at 14:52."
The room erupted with cheers and chants. T-minus minutes and counting 'til the swim ...
And, he was in the water at about 6 a.m. and, 15 minutes later, in third place in the third heat, amid non-stop hometown cheers and lots of "Here we go Jaeger, here we go!" and "USA! USA!" chants.
Jaeger's swim time had to garner him an eighth or better place out of all heats to qualify for the medal round. "He's fifth or sixth right now," a Fair Havenite was overheard saying. "His time for the third heat was 14:57.56," 14.5 seconds behind the top qualifier, China's Yang Sun.
Minutes later, after many left the building, the flat screen lit up showing Jaeger in seventh place, qualifying him for the 2012 Summer Olympics swim for a medal tomorrow at 7:36 p.m. London time and roughly 2:30 p.m. eastern.
Patch was there from the start of the two-hour Fair Haven party and covering Jaeger's journey and first swim as an Olympian. Take a look at the above video and some of the scenes from inside as the morning progressed.
Saturday, there will be another hometown party at the Knights of Columbus at 2 p.m. when Jaeger will go for the gold.
Stay tuned to Patch for updates.