Among the 1,800 swimmers competing for up to 40 spots on the U.S. Olympic team are four Nebraskans.
Eighteen-year-old Will Raynor of Omaha, a Creighton Prep graduate, qualified for the 200 meter backstroke at the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational. “It just took my last chance to get it. So, but I’m happy I got it though,” he said.
“I was just elated. It was really cool just seeing the Century Link center just full of friends and family and looking up to the section where my parents were sitting, seeing them all happy.”
He’s looking forward to that feeling, once again, as during a Tuesday heat. The idea that he’s taking part in the same competition as the likes of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lotke, among other superstars, is still sinking in. “It’s pretty unreal,” Raynor said. “It’s a meet where not only are they swimming, they’re taking it as serious is us.”
His friend, with the Greater Omaha Aquatics Club, Leopards and Sharks, 18-year-old Ryan Miksch, will be competing in two events. Miksch is a Columbus Scotus graduate who earned trial positions in the 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter freestyle. Those heats take place on Thursday and Saturday.
"Oh, it's going to be incredible, just the atmosphere and the experience is going to be awesome,” he said. But he admitted, “I'm getting a little more nervous every day."
Every day to the competition the teammates will practice, but only to a point. “We're kind of resting a little bit. So i have hour and 15 minute practices usually up to the event," said Miksch.
"I’m just relaxing, getting a lot of sleep and eating right,” Raynor said. They’ll need to conserve as much energy as they can for the competition. And both will have plenty of support in the stands.
"I couldn't have done what I do without (my parents) and the support of friends,” Miksch said. “I wouldn't be where I am today without them."
Raynor feels the same. "My parents have pushed me the whole way, they've been behind my back even when I didn't want to - made me come, but I'm glad they did."
While Raynor said it’s an honor to take part in the trials, that alone is not enough for him. “I feel like this is a good milestone to reach, but I feel like I have a long way to go as well. This is just the beginning.”
Millard West graduate Shannon Guy will help represent the women at the swim trials, and Lincoln East graduate Ryan Bubb will take part as well.