Olympic Journey - 2008
The Road to Beijing Begins in Omaha
A STAR IN THE MAKING
Nathan Adrian, swimming in his first Trials, made waves in the swimming world with his win at the Omaha Swimvitational earlier this month.
Adrian, 19, beat American record-holder and two-time defending Olympic champion Gary Hall, Jr., as well as the 2004 Olympic silver and bronze medalists, in the 50 freestyle. He posted a personal best of 22.01 seconds in that event, and finished second to Michael Phelps in the 100 free.
This season seems to be more of a debut to the swimming world for Adrian, a 2006 Bremerton High graduate.
He won his first world championship title at the short-course meet in Manchester, England, in April, helping the U.S. to a gold and world record in the 400 free relay and a silver and American-record in the 400 medley relay.
Hall even touted Adrian, his training partner at The Race Club in Florida, following the Omaha meet.
"He's the kid. He's the one to watch," Hall said in a story by the Associated Press. "He's just going to continue to improve. He's the whole package. Some people have the mental aspect. He's got the strength, the feel, the technique and a good head on his shoulders."
It seems the decision to leave California for a year to train full-time was worth it.
Adrian plans on returning to Berkeley in the fall, where he will be a sophomore after applying for an Olympic waiver, which essentially gives him a red-shirt season. He already has a roommate and classes lined up for when he returns.
Like every other swimmer, Adrian started tapering — where swimmers scale back practices to rest and relax before a major meet — about two weeks ago. Adrian said his schedule was pretty relaxed and if he felt like sleeping in, his coach Mike Bottom let him. Although he usually tried to get in a workout every day.
"He wants to do more work than I want him to do," Bottom said.
It's not surprising considering Adrian regularly works hard. He famously put in a four-to-five hour 20,000-yard practice every New Year's Eve while in high school.
"Besides that it's just a whole lot of rest," Adrian said. "I really can't do anything much. I climb the stairs slower, I never run anywhere. I kind of feel like a sloth."
The trickiest part may have been the waiting.
"I think I am ready to know what I am going to do for the next two months of my life," he said. "It pretty much depends on either 22 seconds or 48 seconds of my life."
The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder has spent some of his free time spearfishing in the Florida Keys, as well as playing video games with his roommates. He's even picked up nicknames like Bok Choy and Kung Pow, all in good-natured fun of course.
"It's a lot of fun being on such a close team because we can joke around and not ever hurt anyone's feelings," Adrian said. "Part of the success of The Race Club is providing a fun environment to train in, because if you are having fun it's easier to work hard."
Adrian also believes his biggest strength right now is his confidence and mental toughness.
"Mentally I have gained experience," he said. "I know how to deal with stress a little better. I know more of what to expect."
Coach Bottom agreed.
"I think his confidence is growing into his position," Bottom said. "He's not a favorite (but) he's a known commodity. He needed to get to that place of confidence and look at anyone and (know he could) beat them."
Adrian wasn't expected to be in this position, which is a good place to be in right now, said Bottom.
"The other guys are looking back," he said.
HOW THE TEAM IS CHOSEN
There are four criteria used by USA Swimming to determine swimmers selected to Beijing. Here's a quick look at how they will be chosen.
1. Any winner of an individual finals event (besides 100, 200 freestyle) is automatically added to the team. The top four times in the 100 and 200 freestyle finals are chosen as well.
2. The second fastest individual in any finals event (other than 100-200 free) will be added to the team.
3. The fifth fastest individual in the finals of the 100 and 200 freestyle will be added to the team.
4. The sixth fastest individual in the finals of the 100 and 200 freestyle will be added to the team.
Also, if the team has not reached its maximum of 26 men and 26 women, then more swimmers can be added to fill the roster. Individuals can also be excluded if the maximum has been reached after the four priorities.
U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS AT A GLANCE
At Omaha, Neb.
Bremerton's Tara and Dana Kirk, Nathan Adrian and Bainbridge's Emily Silver are all vying for a spot on the U.S. swim team
Web cast (prelims only)
Time: 5 p.m. TV: Ch. 5
Annette Griffus, Kitsap Sun, June 28, 2008.
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