Rachel & Anna Zilinskas: Team USA, 200 Free

by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)

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Created June 27th, 2012 04:23:45 PM

Modified June 27th, 2012 04:23:45 PM

Written by Anna Zilinskas, Rachel's sister and an avid swimming enthusiast.

Read more of Anna and Rachel's entries from this week

As a previous swimmer and a swimming fan, I can honestly say that there are few swimming events more thrilling than the finals sessions of the Olympic Trials. Granted, I have never been to an Olympics session, so I have no idea what it would be like to actually see the Olympic Games live-but I am betting that the U.S. Trials still comes close. Omaha is HOT. Literally, it’s 100 degrees right now. However, the second you step into the CenturyLink Center-Omaha transforms into a cool, unique swimming world that before this week, I never knew existed.

The finals session begins much like a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. First, the National Anthem is sung by very talented musicians. This is important because each and every swimmer hears the anthem that they envision hearing with their country’s colors raised behind them on the medal stand at the Olympic Games. Everyone in the audience unites and remembers that we are all rooting for the same team- Team USA. Then the lights dim, “Welcome to the Jungle” is playing, and there are spotlights with the USA Swimming logo flashed and swirled around the audience and the rest of the arena. The jumbo screen counts down the seconds until we “go live” on NBC; the audience claps and cheers as the athletes for the first event walk out behind the blocks. Music is constantly playing and I have caught myself and others quite a few times dancing along with the beats.

It’s a very happy place for a swimming fan. The final heat for each event steps up to the block, and each race comes down to the final touch. After that touch, the arena is illuminated by large flames that are spit out around the turn-end of the pool. It is exhilarating. During the medal ceremony, the first place finisher is raised on a platform from beneath the pool deck up into the crowd’s view. Behind them, a green waterfall spilling the words “Congrats”, the swimmer’s name, and “Going to London” falls to the floor. Each medal ceremony is as equally exciting as the last. The winner then takes a victory lap around the rest of the pool deck and then is quickly interviewed by Summer Sanders. Although we are not attending all of the preliminary sessions this week, we surely will be in attendance to see each winner added to the Olympic team in this fantastic ceremony.

Today, Rachel competed in the 200 freestyle. She was initially a 57th seed with a 2:01.93 and ended up 44th overall with a 2:02.27. She felt it was another strong swim and was a great performance to set herself up for a strong 800 prelim on Saturday.

So far, we are enjoying our trip and the days are passing very quickly! We are looking forward to finals tonight and hopefully will get to see Rach over the next two days that she has off from competing. Tonight we are headed to the finals to see another duel between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Can’t wait!! #SwimTrials12