Olympic Trials

The Buzz: Olympic Trials Role Playing


By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent

My first Olympic Trials experience was like witnessing the underworlds of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Each person, coach, volunteer, competitor, and Oompa Loompa has a very specific role to play to keep the well-oiled machine going -- a job, a responsibility, a niche duty in this strange, wild Olympic Trials ride.

As each Trials day progresses, people's jobs change depending on time of day. Roles change. Jobs morph into something else. Every swim parent knows you're not just a "swim parent" -- you're also a chauffeur, therapist, encourager, cheerer, chef, gopher, doctor, videographer, maid/butler, and professional hugger. Here are other various "roles" you might encounter on any given day, depending on what sub-group of Olympic Trials attendee you are...


Breakfast: Food Gopher. Whatever your swimmer wants, you get. If he/she wants lobster bisque, you make it happen.
Prelims: Cheer Machine. Your voice must stand out from 14,999 others.
Post-Prelims: Therapist. Hug. Console. Encourage. Step back if needed.
Finals: Photographer. 5,392,521 photographs for Facebook & Twitter.
Night: Worrier. Up all night, pacing, preparing, pondering...


Breakfast: Recharger. If you can eat, eat. If not, wait 15 minutes and try again...
Prelims: Competitor. The previous four years flash before your eyes.
Post-Prelims: Napper. Every swimmer's true talent.
Finals: Warrior. You haven't eaten in 24 hours. Like that will stop you.
Night: Celebrator if done. Bed Tosser if not.


Breakfast: Organizer. You're more worried about your swimmers than yourself. Worst fear: Leaving someone behind a la "Home Alone."
Prelims: Shadower. Make sure your swimmers are OK, need anything, have spare goggles/caps.
Post-Prelims: Splits Analyzer. Analyze the swims. What can be improved?
Finals: Spectator. Nothing you can do now but coach and watch.
Night: Mad Scientist. What can be improved for tomorrow? Hit the lab.



Breakfast: Hoarder. Consume as much food as possible to get through day.
Prelims: Star-Gazer. All your favorite swimmers are here.
Post-Prelims: Cheer Writer. Scribe cheers for tonight's finals.
Finals: Noise Machine. Why else are you there? CHEER!
Night: Networker. 15,000 swim fans in Omaha. It's a swim fan overload.



Breakfast: Sprinter. Running around to make sure it’s ready.
Prelims: Host. A good event is like a good party. Everything must run smoothly.
Post-Prelims: Assemblyman. Meetings. Preparations. Dialogue.
Finals: Glue Holder. Keeping it all together…
Night: Sleep Machine.



Breakfast: Caffeine Consumer. Sweet caffeine eases the pain of long hours...
Prelims: Information Cruncher. No Typos. Analyze times. Tweet, tweet.
Post-Prelims: Second-Guesser/Pundit. Miss something? Pour over results. Talk to coaches. Make last-minute predictions.
Finals: Tornado Chaser. Get quotes of the winners, be respectful of the rest. Don't miss races. Battle 200 other media members vying for one, great quote...
Night: Content Machine. Write and edit videos/articles. Re-listen to interviews. Peruse the psyche sheet. Prepare for tomorrow.

Anyone Not In Omaha


Breakfast: Gobbler. Consume the hundreds of articles, columns, op-eds, and blogs written from night before. Arrive late to work.
Prelims: Extended Break Taker. Turn 15 minute break into 2 hour break. Watch prelims online wherever you can.
Post-Prelims: Employee Of The Month. Get work done in a furious record-setting pace since you skipped your morning work time watching prelims.
Finals: Hermit. Hole up in front of TV. Turn on NBC. Getcha popcorn ready.
Night: Social Media User. Hit social media sites, since you know fans in Omaha will post every picture, quote, thought, and image from the Trials… Then, of course, start conjuring a way to attend 2016.


Go to usaswimming.org/trials for full Olympic Trials coverage.

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