Olympic Swim Trials: The story behind the drums

Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 7:08 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For eight straight nights, a Japanese tradition has been a part of the soundtrack of the U.S. Olympic Swim trials in Omaha.

Taiko drummers provide the thunderous beat on the pool deck of the CHI Health Center. It’s a slice of Tokyo in Nebraska.

Taiko drummers believe it’s felt in your soul.

“Just getting to drum every night is wonderful,” said Maureen Brase-Houchin of Kokyo Taiko in Lincoln, Nebraska. “The crowd has been a great audience. I learned Taiko drumming when I lived in Japan. I was teaching and eventually started a group here.”

Every four years, organizers select something to tie together Omaha with the Olympic host city. In 2021 it’s Tokyo, Japan.

The American swimmers who qualify for the Olympics get to sign the item.

“For Rio, it was a surfboard. For England, it was the red phone booth,” said Maureen. “So this year they have the drum, and they thought it would be cool to have actual drummers.”

Maureen Brase-Houchin has already taught Taiko to several generations of children and adults in Lincoln.

On a stage like this with millions watching, she’s excited to see what comes next.

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