Courtesy: Charles Hartley
The world is waking up like it’s a new sunny day, with no clouds in the sky, with positive vibes pumping through our hearts and souls after a period of prolonged darkness.
There’s so much to look forward to this summer – family reunion barbecues, picnics outside with friends and neighborhoods, boat rides and social gatherings without the pervasive concerns about social distancing.
All that’s going to be great. And so will what’s coming fast in June of this year, the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Some 1,300 Americans swimmers have qualified for this event. It can’t come soon enough. We’ve waited a year as a nation after the entire Tokyo Olympics got put on hold for a year because of the pandemic.
But that’s all rearview mirror stuff. We’re all swimming ahead, emotionally and psychologically, with these great swimmers towards an inspirational to watch their show of grit and determination that you just don’t see often. All these swimmers have sacrificed huge portions of their lives in preparation for this opportunity to finish first or second in their events which would qualify them for the U.S. Olympic team.
Just imagine how many hours they’ve been in the water this past year, by themselves, often alone, having to swim further away from each other in the pool because of Covid-19 restrictions. All that time, swimming, staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool, wondering if there ever would be a chance to go to the Olympic trials because of so much uncertainty in the world the past year.
Some couldn’t even go to swimming pools, where they’ve spent their entire childhoods and teenage years. So they had to improvise. They had to stay in shape some other way they weren’t accustomed to. What strangeness it was.
But they’re getting closer to the finish line. We’re less than 50 days from the starting gun to start the first race in Omaha on June 4th.
What a celebration of American life being given back to us – watching these great swimmers go for their lifelong dreams after countless hours in the pools super early in the mornings, lifting weights in their homes this past year, waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And wondering if all the years of swimming would actually end up with a chance for them to swim at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
And here it comes.
You’re going to hear the name Caeleb Dressel a lot this summer during these trials and at the Tokyo Olympic games. The dude’s a fish. He’s favored to finish first at the trials in the 50 meter (21.04) and 100 meter freestyles (46.96) and the 100 meter butterfly (49.50). And he’ll be on the all-important men’s freestyle relay teams in Tokyo.
Is he Michael Phelps?
Of course not. No one is or ever will be.
But he’s awfully talented. Embrace this American swimming sensation.
He’ll be a stunning summer star in America. He’ll fire us up, inspire us to do more with our lives. Look for him to probably stand on the Gold Medal stand in Tokyo as they show his face and play the Star-Spangled Banner. At least once, but probably more than that.
Along with CD, there are others you should keep your eyes on. One is Michael Andrew. He’s got the second fastest time in the 50 meter freestyle (21.46) behind Dressel. He’s also posted the fourth fastest (51.33) time in the 100 butterfly.
And he’s very versatile. He’s coming into the trials with the second fastest time in the 100 meter breaststroke (59.14) as well as the 200 meter individual medley (1:56.83).
It’ll be intriguing to watch whether Andrew steals the medal-hauling race from Dressel at the trials – and maybe takes home more golds in Tokyo.
Along with these two superstars, there’s another guy to keep an eye on: Shaine Casas. Racing into Omaha, he’s posted the second fastest time in the 100 backstroke (52.72) and third fastest in the 200 back (1:55:79).
He’s got a tall order on his hands, though, to take first place. In the backstroke, you’ll be reminded this summer of four years ago when Ryan Murphy won gold in Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympics.
He blew everybody way in the 100 meter and 200 meter backstroke. Murphy comes into the trials with the fastest times in those two events and is expected to repeat that in Omaha.
Is this enough to get you hyped up? Are you ready to start reading SwimSwam day and night for the next 100 days through the trials and Tokyo Games?
Is chlorine running through your veins?
It’s time, Americans. It’s time, SwimSwam fans.
Slide into your Speedos. Put on your goggles. Get on the starting block.
The races are about to begin.
About Charles Hartley
Charles Hartley is a freelance writer based in Bernardsville, New Jersey. He has a masters degree in journalism and a masters degree in business administration.