by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)
Created June 26th, 2012 02:53:56 PM
Modified June 26th, 2012 02:55:15 PM
Written by Anna Zilinskas, Rachel's sister and an avid swimming enthusiast.
I think that one of the main things I have learned throughout this experience is that whether you’re a top competitor for the Olympic team spot or you’re finishing dead last- it is an absolute HONOR to be swimming in this event. The Olympic Trials is just like any other swim meet in most ways and in other ways it’s not. Just like any other swim meet the parents are all zoned into their child’s swim, writing down splits and wearing the respective club swim team’s shirts. The concession stands are always busy and the line for meet t-shirts is long. There are heat sheets, programs, and results posted on the wall outside the natatorium. To all swimming fans and frequent meet attenders, the routine of the event seems normal. What’s different is what’s at stake. This swim meet is the gateway to the most prestigious and most honorable competition as an athlete in any sport. Needless to say, the tension in that pool is so thick. The reality is that most of the competitors in Omaha will NOT be going to London. That privilege can only be earned by few. Nevertheless, from the last place finisher to Ryan Lochte or Elizabeth Beisel- the honor to just compete in this event is so huge. I am proud to just be spectator!
Today, we woke up early- anxious for my sister’s first swim. We got to the center in time for the start of the event. We got to see majority of the prelims before taking a break to eat lunch and visit the Aqua Zone. The Aqua Zone is a large swimwear and swimming gear store next to a huge display of different booths and stands that educate attendees about the sport. There were booths for Myrtha Pools, Masters Swimming, CeraVe Lotion, and many other sponsors and members of the USA Swimming organization. My brother, Jacob, matched his wingspan up against a cardboard cutout of Michael Phelps, and was only about an inch off! There was a red telephone booth that all could sign, symbolizing the goal of making it to London. Kids could play games, compete in simulation swimming events, and ride a “mechanical shark”. While we were there we were able to see Ian Crocker signing autographs but didn’t get a chance to wait in line because it was too close to Rachel’s heat of the 400 freestyle. It was a great way to kind of “chill out” and calm our nerves as we prepared to watch her race.
Rach had a great swim, only a little bit off of her best time. Her stroke looked strong and she dropped from her 22nd seed to 15th place overall. We are so proud! She told us she felt good, and it was a great swim to flush out her nerves for the rest of her races throughout this week. I have the meet mobile app downloaded on my phone so that I can follow her splits and her places throughout the week. We are so excited to see what else she will do this week!
Friends and family can watch her preliminary 400 Free swim on NBC Sports between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.