By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Thursday, January 16, 2020
This summer’s Olympic Trials will be the first for official Lisa Olack.
She was asked to officiate Trials in 2012, but her daughter, Ashton, was getting married at the same time, so family won out.
Suffice it to say, however, her happiness for her oldest daughter was mixed with sadness that she couldn’t be in Omaha.
“When Ashton booked her wedding, I told my friend when it was going to be and she said, ‘That's trials!’ I said, okay, but it's not like I'm going so no biggie,” Olack said. “Imagine my surprise when my husband and I received the invitation to attend! Shock doesn't begin to describe it!”
Olack said had they been able to go to Trials, they would have done it in a heartbeat.
“I joked and said we were going to move the wedding to Omaha and have the ceremony between prelims and finals with a reception afterwards,” she said. “I told Ashton it would be one heck of a party!”
While this will be her first Trials, Olack is “pumped” to be officiating in Omaha this summer. Following is a Q&A with her about her experience as an official along with her expectations for what’s to come at Trials.
Q: Where do you live? What do you do for work, fun, hobbies? Family?
A: I live in Charlotte, N.C., with my husband of 37 years, Dave. We have two daughters, Ashton, who lives close by, and Kristina, who lives in Chicago, as well as two grandkids, Emma and Landon. I'm a retired accountant and, believe it or not, am involved in many areas of swimming. I enjoy spoiling my grandchildren and spending time with them as well as the rest of my family.
Q: Have you been to Omaha?
A: I have visited Omaha before. My husband actually worked about an hour south of Omaha in Brownville for a couple of years. We have very good friends that live in Omaha, too. I expect that the event will just be spectacular!
Q: What do you remember most from past Trials? Any particular memory or memories/experiences stand out?
A: This is my first time attending Trials.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working swim meets in the various roles you've held?
A: I have enjoyed so much about the swim meets I have attended but the people are some of the best people one could ever meet. I have worked with so many over the years that have become more than friends, many have become family. It's also so great to see swimmers grow from their first experience in the pool competing to become great athletes and even better people.
Q: How many meets (including Trials) would you say you've officiated?
A: Way too many to count! Like so many, you lose count because you get so much out of it; it's an experience that is hard to describe but we do it because we love the sport.
Q: How were you selected to be an official at Trials?
A: I really don't know but am honored to be a part of it. We have so many good officials and to be selected among all of them is a distinct privilege.
Q: What will you be doing as an official – what is your role, duties, where will you be, etc.
A: I will be one of the Administrative Officials at the meet. The admin team oversees everything from entries in to the meet to final results. We work on what is known as "the dry side."
Q: How long have you been officiating at swim meets? How did you get started doing this?
A: I started this journey 20 years ago when my youngest began swimming year-round. A friend of mine said, ‘I've got a job for you,’ and I've been at it ever since and still love it.
Q: Is this something you've been wanting to do for a while (if you haven't done it before)? I imagine this is quite an honor to be chosen for Trials?
A: This is the epitome of officiating in my mind. To be a part of the biggest meet for USA Swimming is an honor.
Q: Are you a swimmer/former swimmer yourself?
A: Recreational but never as a competitor.
Q: Do you have kids who swam (I know this is how a few people got into officiating)?
A: I do. Kristina started swimming when she was 9 and swam through college. Ashton began much later as a high school swimmer.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about Trials?
A: Seeing great swimmers do what they do best. Also, to be with old friends and new. It will be an experience that I will always treasure.
Q: Anything I didn't ask that you'd like to include?
A: I am just so excited and blessed to be a part of this whole experience. I look forward to everything this adventure will offer.