With the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials less than a day away, most of the swimmers have arrived in Omaha and are gearing up for the big competition.
On Saturday and Sunday, a number of the top contenders took time out from their preparation to answer questions for the media. Here are some of the top questions from each of the press conferences:
(If you missed it, here’s Part 1 with Tyler Clary, Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, Brendan Hansen and Elizabeth Beisel).
She was the youngest competitor at Olympic Trials four years ago. This year, she’s the reigning world champ and American record holder in the 200 backstroke, and a world of possibilities await this rising star. Swimming fans can’t wait to see what and how she’ll do this week.
Can you see/hear coach Todd Schmitz from the deck during your races?
Absolutely. I see him all the time, and I definitely hear him. I'm definitely not swimming alone. I know he's supoprting me no matter what.
How are things different now at 17 years old as opposed to your first Trials in 2008?
I definitely knew what I wanted to accomplish before 2012 Trials and what I needed to do to make the team. The last few years, I've worked so hard, and everything I've learned is happening right now. I'm going to go out there having faith in knowing what's right and doing what's I'm supposed to be doing.
How do you handle expectations?
Expectations are definitely higher, which can make things more difficult, but the expectations that matter most – from my coaches, my parents, my family and friends – are to just go out and have fun. They're not putting pressure on me and I know I can go out and smile and have fun.
Allison Schmitt made the team in 2008 as a relative unknown. She is now the American record-holder in the 200 free and a lot more experienced on the international stage. That’s going to make a big difference for her as she competes this week at Trials.
How does this Olympic Trials feel different from 2008 Trials?
I definitely feel more experienced this time and am more mature. Four years ago, I didn't really know what to expect, but I definitely know what to expect this time, and that will help me concentrate more on my races."
How big of a prankster are you in practice?
I don't like to take things too seriously. I joke around and play games and have fun. I like to keep things light.
How are you different from the swimmer who competed at the 2008 Olympics?
"I'm definitely motivated after finishing 9th (in the 200 freestyle). I know now that every one-hundredth counts, and I'm excited to see how much more experienced I am and how that works for me in the pool. I'm a lot stronger this year than I've ever been."
After qualifying for the Olympic Team in several events in 2008, Jessica Hardy tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended from the sport for a year. Now she’s back in Omaha and dwelling only on the positives.
How are you feeling after the suspension from the 2008 Olympic Team?
I'm feeling a mixture of positive and negative feelings. I'm remembering the good times and that euphoric feeling of making the Olympic Team. I have a lot of traumatic feelings (from 2008), but I'm choosing to focus on the good ones for sure.
Three and a half years ago, I was doing everything I could to hide from the media. But having gone through that, I've found myself again. If I can bring awareness to people in my situation or who have experienced what I have – being a spokesperson can do something for them. It’s been fun getting to do a lot of media this summer. I'm definitely more the kind of person who doesn't judge. I see the glass half full instead of half empty.
Will you swim all of your events at Trials?
I'm doing them all, but I'm most excited about the 100 breaststroke. It's the most emotionally fun and one of my real chances for making (the Olympic Team). It's going to be fun.
Talk about Rebecca Soni and the success that she's had and continues to have.
Rebecca has just been impressive. She's very level-headed and calm, and she just lets it happen. She's a hard trainer and a great racer. She'll be successful as long as she wants to.