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Sunday, July 8, 2012

2012 Olympic Swim Trials: Our Swimmer Superlatives

Lochte and Phelps--part of the drama enticing the sold out Swim Trials Finals crowd at the Century Link Center, Omaha

Ah, the joy of being part of the over 13,000 fans in the Century Link Center for the Olympic Swim Trials!  The attendees are from all over the country.  Though most of the friendly swim fans we meet are from anywhere but Nebraska, they are singing Omaha's praises for being such an enthusiastic, swimfan-friendly setting.

As mentioned in our previous posts, my sister Diana and I (Katarina), were excited to attend all 15 sessions of the Olympic Swim Trials which spanned eight days.   We are very thankful to USA Swimming, who made time at Aqua Zone in between sessions very entertaining, which included opportunities to meet past and present Olympians.  We are also very grateful to the athletes. Their optimism, willingness to spend time with fans, and patriotic attitude about representing the United States was all very inspiring.  Diana and I figured it would be most amusing if we recorded our personal highlights in our own very biased way. 


Most Impressive Display of Taking Off a Swim Cap, Therefore Inspiring our Swimmer Superlatives:

Most Enthusiastic After Winning a Race: MATT GREVERS
One of our Day 3 highlights was Matt Grevers' enthusiasm after winning the 100 backstroke.  He emerged from the pool into a sprint to hug multiple people.  His medal ceremony was endearing, being that it was presented by Adolph Keifer, gold medal backstroke winner from the 1936 Olympics, who was also celebrating his 94th birthday that day. When interviewed after the medal ceremony, we enjoyed Grevers' humility when saying he didn't think he would make the team (though he's been the U.S.'s top backstroker within the last couple years).

Nick Thoman and Grevers being interviewed for NBC

Most Gracious and Impressive to Talk with in Person: TYLER CLARY (Matt Grevers is a close second)
Before we could even thank Tyler for taking this picture with us, he thanked US first!  A few days later, while autograph signing with Matt Grevers and Annie Chandler, Tyler thanked us for losing our voices, told us about the Speedo photo shoot on a waterslide, and went on about how impressed he is with the Trials crowd.  Then, Matt Grevers told us about how the excitement of the crowd at the Swim Trials is better than that at the Olympics.

Best Medal Acceptance Pose: BRENDAN HANSEN

Most Missed by Us: AARON PEIRSOL
Peirsol, the best backstroker in history, retired from swimming in 2010, and we enjoyed watching him in the last three Olympics.  It seemed weird to not see him compete in the backstroke events, but we're glad he was constantly around during the Swim Trials.

Most Likely to Save a Drowning Child: CULLEN JONES
Cullen is a spokesperson for the Make a Splash Foundation, a "national child-focused water safety initiative" for which he goes on tour to spread the importance of learning to swim.   More information about this foundation can be found at


Closest Resemblance to a "Full House" cast member: ELIZABETH BEISEL
Yes, we did tell Elizabeth that we think she looks like DJ Tanner.

Most Able to Make us Emotional: KATHLEEN HERSEY
Diana and I were fortunate to sit next to Kathleen's parents during the 2008 Swim Trials. They were generous, shared helpful information, and we enjoyed having someone (Kathleen) to cheer for.  Her awesome parents made it even more exciting for us to watch her make it to the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.  When we learned that Kathleen's mother died from cancer earlier this year, we were saddened to say the least, and I felt myself getting choked up when we expressed our condolences to Mr. Hersey.

Most like a Greek God in Human Form: RYAN LOCHTE
If Ryan Lochte and Michelangelo had been alive at the same time, we're certain Ryan would've been a source of great inspiration for the sculptor.

"I guess milk does the body good,"  Ryan Lochte responded, when Bob Costas (reporting live from the Swim Trials) commented on Ryan's amount of recent shirtless pictures. 

Most Impressive with Handling Shloads of Fans: RYAN LOCHTE
It was cool to see how Ryan did his best to sign as many autographs as possible.

There is just something endearing about how Peter stays low key, even after we caused trouble.  (We were NOT supposed to be taking pictures on the autograph stage.)

Almost Makes Me Want to Like the Color Pink Whilst Dominating the 200 Breaststroke in a Pink Suit: REBECCA SONI

Most likely to pull off a messy bun and look darling: MISSY FRANKLIN

Best Overcoming Story: ERIC SHANTEAU
Shortly after making the team at the 2008 Trials, Eric was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  Now in remission, he's still an amazing breaststroker, and also a 2012 Olympian.

Most Reluctant to Take a Picture with a 12 Year Old at the Zoo in Omaha's humidity:
Though there was no one else around, and a small chance that anyone would recognize him at the Henry Doorly Zoo, Anthony had to be convinced to pose for a picture with our swimfan friend Ryan.  We hope that the reluctance was due to the exhausting heat of 100 degrees plus humidity, because we later found Anthony to be friendly about taking pictures and signing, especially after Day 8's closing ceremonies.

Most likely to High Five While Eating a Sandwich: NATHAN ADRIAN
We were respectful of the fact that swimmers don't really have time to chat before finals, so we appreciated that while walking by, Nathan always gave high fives (when he was eating) and smiled (when he wasn't eating).

Most Able to Make Us Burst Out Laughing: GARY HALL JR.

During his tenure as a 3-time Olympian, Gary Hall Jr. was known for his antics on the starting block. For example, at the 2008 Trials, he wore a bejeweled boxing robe and made a show of punching the air.  While meeting him, we inquired about the whereabouts of his boxing robe and he said it was at the drycleaners due to a mustard stain.  He proceeded to tell us about how he was a 3-time drowning victim, asked us what antics we would use at an awards ceremony, and then we all practiced our princess waves.

Most Able to Look Professional in Purple Skinny Jeans: SUMMER SANDERS
Summer, a 1992 gold medalist, was the MC of the Swim Trials.  She impressed us with her mix of t-shirts and skinny jeans, professionalism and personal touch to relate to and congratulate each Olympic qualifier.

Summer Sanders interviews Brendan Hansen after he qualifies for the Olympic Team

Most Recognized Parent: MICHAEL PHELPS
Debbie Phelps was so recognizable, she even had her own autograph signing session.

Though there were only eight fans around when we encountered him, Michael gave us a long list of reasons why he had to make it quick (one of which was he hadn't eaten all day).  Michael was done competing at this point.

Most Interesting Pre-Race Stretching: MICHAEL PHELPS
The way Michael flapped his arms almost seemed painful...should stretching make a sound?

Best Eyelashes: RICKY BERENS


Best Jaw Structure: NICK THOMAN

Closest Voice Resemblance to John Cena and My Friend Derek: NICK THOMAN

Best Male Biceps: JASON LEZAK
The last leg of the 400 free relay in the 2008 Olympics was the fastest in history, due to some superhuman trait of Jason's...we told him that even our dog showed an emotional reaction to his amazing come-from-behind victory.

Most Likely to be a 16 Year Old Swimmer at the 2016 Swim Trials: RYAN OLSON

Ryan Olson (pictured above with Ryan Lochte and Ryan Olson's swim mom, Melanie) is a 12 year old competitive swimmer in Utah.  His specialty is the 400 IM, much like his swimming idol Ryan Lochte, who is so graciously showing Ryan's "Big O" swimming sign in the picture above.  Ryan is a friendly, hilarious, and bold swim fan who was successful in having 28 different Olympians sign his Swim Trials t-shirt.  Diana and I are very grateful we befriended Melanie and Ryan, as we shared many great outbursts.  Plus, we're grateful to Melanie for letting us use some of her pictures!


The question has already been raised about where the 2016 Swim Trials should be held.  Summer Sanders and Rowdy Gaines seem to be proponents of the Trials staying in Omaha.  The bids haven't even been submitted yet, but we're keeping our fingers crossed for a third Swim Trials in Omaha.  But for now, we're super excited about cheering on Team USA at the Olympic Games in London, which start on July 27th.  For the televised event schedule, check out .

Also, if you go to , you can buy a stitch in the U.S. flag to support the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams in London.

Happy Olympics Viewing!


  1. We completely agree with all of the superlatives! Glad you had a better experience with Anthony than we did. And congratulations - you are now officially the first "media outlet" to report about Ryan "Big-O" Olson! We miss you!

  2. Melanie, we miss you too! We are happy to have another person for which to cheer, especially someone as delightful as Ryan!