Friday, June 18, 2021
View from the Trials Stands - June 17
Sports are filled with drama – and swimming is no exception.
Sometimes it’s exhilaration and happiness. Sometimes it’s sadness and heartbreak.
Fans of swimming experienced all of those emotions Thursday night during evening racing at Olympic Trials – Swimming at Omaha’s CHI Health Center.
Here are some of those feelings and observations from the stands on Day 5 of Olympic Trials.
Flickinger Flies with Sun Devil Swimming
Following her U.S. Open-record time of 2:05.85–the second-fastest in the world this year–Hali Flickinger pointed to her coaching change following the 2019 World Championships as the reason.
She moved to Arizona to work with Bob Bowman–who knows a thing or two about developing Olympic champion fliers–with a plan and a mission.
“When I walked into Bob’s office, we made clear goals, and he took those, and we put more IM work into my training,” she said. “I didn’t overthink it; I just swim it.”
Each night of Olympic Trials – Swimming, an individual sings the American National Anthem to get the evening’s races started.
But have you ever wondered how they are selected to sing?
While there were no formal auditions, those who sing each night have sung the National Anthem for the Omaha Sports Commission at past events or were part of the upcoming College World Series (CWS) auditions and were recommended for Trials.
One group in particular, the Omaha South High Chamber Singers, were selected as part of local efforts to loop in kids from the community to Trials. They performed earlier this week.
All performers are local except for one who has a 90-minute commute to Omaha and the other who is a new staff member at USA Swimming – Program Director for Diversity Equity and Inclusion Leland Brown III, who is also an opera singer and displayed his talents in Wednesday's national anthem.
Words to Swim By
While he is favored in multiple events this week and is expected to be a powerhouse for the U.S. in Tokyo, Caeleb Dressel has a very simplistic way of looking at Trials and accompanying notoriety.
That’s his face covering four stories of the façade of the CHI Health Center. But he knows if you don’t swim fast and make the team, it doesn’t mean much else.
His focus is on the now.
“You can’t win five or six medals (in Tokyo) if you don’t qualify,” he said following his win in the 100 free, in which he is the American record holder. “Right now, I’m focusing on Trials.”
Adrian's New Perspective
As a husband and father, Nathan Adrian’s life is a little different now than it was five years ago when he won the 100 freestyle at Olympic Trials.
However, this year, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist finished 13th in Wednesday evening’s 100 free semifinals – failing to advance to Thursday’s final.
But his life’s different priorities now have brought different expectations and reactions than he had in the past.
“There’s no doubt it’s disappointing, but it’s a lot different (for me) this year,” said Adrian, who finished in 48.92 five years after winning this event at Trials in 47.72. “When I had a bad practice before, it would hit me like a dagger in the heart. But now, I just go home and give my wife and baby a big kiss.”
Chocolate Milk – It Does a Body Good
What do chocolate milk and a banana have in common, you might wonder?
They are what Katie Ledecky snacked on between her 200 and 1500 freestyle events Wednesday night during Trials.
With a short window between events on this historic night – the first time the 1500 free is in the Olympics for women – Ledecky made time to eat and drink a little something along with warming down and making time to accept her medal for winning the 200 free.
Too bad chocolate milk and a banana don’t have the same effect on all of us. We might be Olympic champions, too.
Breaststroke – An Old Man’s Race?
Old men? At 27 years old?
In most walks of life (and professions), that age is considered young. But in swimming, it’s often nearing the end of a career.
Not for Nic Fink and Andrew Wilson.
The training partners at the University of Georgia went 1-2 in the 200 breaststroke as the elder statesman of the race along with fellow training partner Kevin Cordes, who finished fourth.
While he said he knows the future of the event in the United States is in good hands, Fink isn’t quite ready to go gently into that good night quite yet.
“As with any sport, it’s the young guys always trying to get the old guys’ stuff,” said Fink, who finished third and just off the team earlier this week in the 100 breast. “They can come get my stuff – but not quite yet.
“I think the breaststroke tends to be an old man’s event a lot of the time. Andrew and I are both 27, and Michael Andrew (22), you know he seems like a young guy, but he’s not (fellow finalist) Matt Fallon young (18).”
Speaking of age range. . .
Ryan Lochte, one of the few competitors who was at the first Trials in Omaha in 2008, moved into the finals of the 200 individual medley as a 36-year-old Thursday. His time of 1:58.65 qualified sixth in the evening’s first semifinal.
Still the world record holder, Lochte will go up against the new young guns including top qualifier Michael Andrew (1:55.26), Chase Kalisz, Kieran Smith, Carson Foster and Sam Stewart – all 27 years and younger.
And although he may not be the top seed, don’t count him out.
Simone Hasn’t Left the Building
Even though she came just short of making the Tokyo Olympic team and defending her Olympic crown in the 100 freestyle Thursday night, don’t count out Simone Manuel from still making the team.
While she was disappointed and emotional at times during her post-race press conference, she admitted she’s experienced some recent physical and mental health issues that kept her out the pool for several weeks and when she did return, her workouts were much lighter than usual.
But she vowed to be back even better in the future regardless of what happens in the 50 freestyle this weekend.
“Maybe it didn’t happen today, but this isn’t the last time you’re going to see me, and this isn’t the last time I’m going to do something great in the pool,” she said.
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