tom911 goes to Olympic Swimming Trials, Omaha (8 days of swimming ahead)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by tom911, Jun 24, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Hello from Council Bluffs, Iowa! Just checked into my hotel here on an award stay for the next 9 nights. I have a two room suite with a view of the Missouri River below the windows. There are two casinos nearby.

    The hotel shuttle picked me up at the Omaha Airport and could come in handy during the week as I'm 3 miles from the pool at the Century Link Center in Omaha. There is a trail along the river and a pedestrian bridge that comes out near the pool, so if the weather cooperates hope to rack up some miles on foot, too. It was 90 degrees on arrival at the airport.

    Swimmer Natalie Coughlin, holder of 11 Olympic medals, adorns the parking structure at the Omaha Airport:

    [​IMG]

    I left my car at the Coughlins house on Saturday night and took BART into SFO. Redeemed an award night at the Hyatt so I wouldn't have too much hassle getting the 0715 flight out to DFW. I have known Natalie's parents for well over 30 years and her father and I are both retired from the same Bay Area police department (someone always asks).

    Arrived at the airport at 6am this morning and opted out of the TSA body screening equipment. They were pretty busy and I had to wait about 15 mins. There was one person ahead of me who also opted out. I got the trainee so even the pat down took longer than normal. He kept tugging on my cargo shorts and for a moment I thought they were going to drop to my ankles, but they did not (remember no belts allowed).

    Off to the Admirals Club to find AA has not cleared any upgrades for my connecting DFW-Omaha flight, even though 8 seats were open. My flight SFO-DFW had cleared a couple days ago. I'm used to 2-4 seats being held for departure, but 8 is brand new for me--that's half the cabin. I cleared at the gate at DFW and was #1 on the list of 8 that cleared.

    Had a cheese omelette and a bagel/cut fruit on the first flight (3 hours). The second flight was just 85 mins long so no meal was offered. Both flights departed on time.

    Hard to believe this is the 4th time in the last 12 years (2000 to Indianapolis, 2004 to Long Beach, 2008 to Omaha), that I've been to Olympic Trials with the Coughlins. I'll catch up with them later tonight for dinner in Omaha (they're staying on the Omaha side). We have 8 days of swimming ahead and we're all expecting Natalie to do well. Here's a link to an article in the Omaha paper about her:
    http://www.omaha.com/article/2012062...706209819/1001

    Trials will be televised daily in the U.S. on the NBC Sports Network (used to be OLN and then VERSUS and now NBCS). On Uverse it's channel 1640 in HD and if you have something else you'll need to search for it. Regular NBC does have some coverage next weekend during prime time but won't be covering it every night. This event runs Monday, June 25, through Monday, July 2. Finals are in the evening.

    I'll be posting updates on Natalie throughout the week.
     
  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Hope you brought your own swim suit! :) Have a great time in the heartland.
     
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  3. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Tom does not travel with Speedos :)

    Had dinner tonight at the Mattress Factory which was right across from the stadium where the College World Series was underway. All the TVs inside were tuned to South Carolina vs Arizona. Too noisy and BBQ food was so-so. We all seemed to recall the food being much better 4 years ago.

    Front doors of the Century Link Stadium where the pool is located:

    [​IMG]

    College World Series:

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

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    Ooooh, I'm so excited to hear about your trip! I'm really jealous and I wish I could go to the trials, but my husband and I are off to Germany on Friday (woe is me, I know). I did club swimming from age 8 - 16 and I still swim with a Masters team (with a former Olympic medalist!).

    A kid I swam with in middle school is in the trials this year, David Walters - he's the American record holder for the 100 Free and is seeded 9th in that event, and seeded 7th in the 200 Free. Cheer for him! :)
     
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  5. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Day 1 Recap

    It's after midnight Monday so this is going to be short.

    Very busy day today. Got the hotel shuttle over to the pool just after 0930 and met up with the Coughlins. Natalie was competing in prelims of 100 butterfly, an event she was not able to swim in Athens or Beijing because of the timing of the event (clashed with her other events). The schedule for London is slightly different allowing her to swim this. There were 170+ swimmers in prelims and Natalie placed 4th, good enough to come back to semifinals tonight (top 16).

    [​IMG]

    After swimming we stopped in the exhibit hall and saw Natalie featured throughout the Speedo store as well as a display with BMW, another sponsor. Here I am with Natalie on both sides:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    <photos cover up to here so far>

    Lunch was in the Omaha Marketplace at Twisted Fork. I had a buttermilk chicken salad.

    Walked back to my hotel across the Missouri River with a slight breeze (high today 87F). 82% humidity when I woke up this morning. 100F is forecast for Wednesday.

    Only time for an hour break and then back to the pool. Watched Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps compete in the 400IM, and Lochte won it. Both go to London as the top two swimmers are selected. Later in the evening a quick visit with Michael's mother and one sister who were seated near us. I was seated next to swimmer Katie Hoff's mother who I met in Beijing.

    Natalie swam in the first of two heats in the semifinals of 100 butterfly and placed first in her heat. In the second heat her Cal team mate Dana Vollmer set a new American record, and there were some other fast swimmers. Natalie placed 4th overall and that's good enough to get her into finals for this event on Tuesday night.

    Dinner was at Upstream Brewing Company in the Omaha Marketplace. I had pot roast and other choices at our table were fish and chips, shrimp and grits, and lamb kebob. Due to the College World Series finishing tonight my hotel shuttle was delayed and I didn't get picked up until 2330, almost 45 mins from the time I first called. Lots of traffic for them to deal with.

    That's it for tonight. Just don't have time to get the evening photos up but hope to do that during the day tomorrow. I do have some exhibit hall photos and morning swimming photos and they start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Swimming/...rials/23765787_7xj652#!i=1924998060&k=tR3jdwd
     
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  6. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    The photos from Monday night (Day 1) are up now. Those photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Swimming/2...0140&k=7GTcN4S

    Ryan Lochte (blue cap) and Michael Phelps (to his right) leave the starting blocks for finals 400IM:

    [​IMG]

    Lochte (left) and Phelps (right) checking the results board (Lochte in first, both go to London):

    [​IMG]

    Natalie Coughlin on starting blocks for her semifinal heat 100 butterfly:

    [​IMG]

    Natalie Coughlin hits the wall in lane 5 and places first in her heat:

    [​IMG]

    Dinner at Upstream Brewing Company (a couple meal photos in the gallery but we started with beer):

    [​IMG]

    Today (Tuesday, start of Day 2), Natalie starts with prelims in 100 backstroke, the event she won the Gold Medal in at both Athens and Beijing.
     
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  7. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

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    Nice! My sister was a much better swimmer than I was, and she competed with Katie Hoff in the Eastern Zones for lots of years. I had to work really late last night, but I hope to catch the televised broadcasts or webcasts for the rest of the week :) That wheat beer looks yummy.
     
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  8. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Recap Day 2

    Challenging day at the pool on Tuesday. Natalie started off in prelims of 100 backstroke and placed 5th, fast enough to get her into semifinals later Tuesday night (top 16 swimmers). We came back Tuesday night and first watched her compete in finals of 100 butterfly, the opening event and a new one for her in Olympic Trials, where she placed 7th (her Cal team mate, Dana Vollmer, set an American record in this event, placing first and swimming the fastest time of the year in the world).

    Natalie came back an hour later and competed in semifinals of 100 backstroke and placed 7th among 16 swimmers, good enough to take her to finals on Wednesday night. This is the event she holds the Olympic Gold Medals from both Athens and Beijing, and there are some very fast, new competitors on the scene. We're all hoping she does well Wednesday night.

    Entering the pool for 100 backstroke semifinal heat:

    [​IMG]

    Waterfall at end of the pool (awards stand is also down at this end):

    [​IMG]

    Lunch was back at Upstream Brewery. I had the chicken fried chicken. Although we weren't there until 2pm, the restaurant filled up after our arrival and the kitchen could not keep up with the orders. We waited a good hour from the time we sat down until our food arrived. We visited and enjoyed some wine after swimming in the evening, and I grabbed a hot dog at the casino near by hotel before turning in.

    [​IMG]

    We did meet the male U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist from the 100 backstroke at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolph Kiefer, on Tuesday afternoon. He's 94 years old now and will award the medals for the women's 100 backstroke on Wednesday night.

    Back to the pool Wednesday night for finals in 100 backstroke. Good luck, Natalie!

    Pool lobby:
    [​IMG]

    New photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Swimming/2...3790&k=sdgf66m
     
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  9. Sedosi

    Sedosi Gold Member

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    Thank you very much for this report. Getting an inside look at the trials is outstanding. And good luck to Natalie!
     
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  10. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

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    Dana Vollmer's 100 Fly was pretty amazing! Though I was rooting for Natalie to get in there. I don't have cable so I can't watch the prelims at home, but I spent 1 1/2 hours on the treadmill at the gym watching them last night!

    Good luck to Natalie tonight in the finals :)

    It's funny to see the finals heats with a bunch of 22 - 30 year olds, then a handful of 15 - 16 year olds. They look so tiny!
     
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  11. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Day 3 recap

    Hello late this Wednesday night approaching 0030. Just 5 hours ago Natalie swam in the finals of the 100 backstroke and although in the lead for the first ¾ of the race, she was not able to maintain that lead towards the very end and two swimmers passed her and got to the wall first. The first place finisher was Missy Franklin, 17, of Colorado, who set a new American record in the event, and will be attending her first Olympics in London this summer. She's been having a very good year. The second place finisher was an 18 year old.

    Natalie congratulating Missy Franklin, on left, for placing first and setting a new American record:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I slept in this morning and started my day with the buffet luncheon at the Ameristar Casino ($11.99—well worth it with a decent salad bar and tri-tip as my main courses), and later met up with the Coughlins in the afternoon at their downtown Omaha hotel. They went to lunch at M's Pub and I came along and just had a beer (Blue Paddle Pilsner). I hung around downtown in the 102F/37C weather to take some photos and pop into a candy store which had Swedish fish, just about my favorite candy these days, but the walkabout didn't last long in the heat. Ended up at the Coughlins hotel at 1730 and we all walked over to the pool for finals at 1815.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Dinner after swimming was at Stokes restaurant in the marketplace. Everyone had Mexican plates except me. I had a salad wedge with blue cheese and a large bowl of corn chowder soup. Made it over there via shuttle and got through the front doors before the swimming crowds could walk over (there were 12,000 fans last night).

    Thursday is a day off for Natalie. We're planning a morning visit to the zoo and hoping we don't melt if this heat keeps up. Natalie does have one more event later this week.

    New photos start here:
    http://tom911.smugmug.com/Swimming/2...4450&k=6BBk6HQ
     
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  12. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

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    I'm sure third place was very disappointing for everyone you're with. :( I was cheering loudly for Natalie!

    Missy Franklin had an amazing swim and Rachel Bootsma beat her previous best time in every swim in Omaha (crazy!).

    I hope the heat breaks and you guys have a good day - Omaha looks cute.
     
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  13. tom911
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    Still pretty hot today. We lasted about 2 hours at the zoo and had enough being outdoors (though they do have some indoor exhibits there that are air-conditioned). We're all hoping Natalie makes it to Saturday night and finals in 100 freestyle. Olympian Summer Sanders, who was handling announcing duties on the pool deck tonight, was wearing a Coughlin T shirt tonight.
     
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  14. MSPeconomist
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    How do they determine who represents the USA in the swimming relay events?
     
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  15. tom911
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    The top two swimmers from every individual event go. Team is composed of 26 men and 26 women. On some of the freestyle events, up to 6 swimmers can go as they need some extra to swim the morning prelim relay round before they come back the same night and swim finals. If Natalie makes it to finals in 100 freestyle tomorrow, it will be one of those events that up to 6 swimmers go. They announce the top 4 at finals and if space is available due to some team members swimming more than one event they'll add the 5th and 6th to round out the team. Quite a few swimmers will only swim prelims in one of the relay events to get the team into finals, yet they still get the medal that is won by the swimmers that swim in the evening at finals (though they will not be on the awards podium). The actual mix of who swims when is done by the coaches when in London.
     
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  16. tom911
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    recap Day 5

    Coming up on 1a.m. Late Friday night. Just back at my hotel after a Speedo reception at the TD Ameritrade Stadium, the venue where the College World Series was held last weekend. Great view down over home plate from our suite.

    [​IMG]

    First, Natalie has made it to the 100 freestyle finals which will be broadcast on NBC in primetime on Saturday night. Of the 8 swimmers in finals, the top six will go to London because of additional swimmers needed in the 4X100 freestyle relay event. The top two swimmers also compete in the individual 100 freestyle event in London. We're all hoping Natalie makes the team on Saturday night!

    She placed 9th in preliminaries on Friday morning which was good enough to come back for semifinals on Friday night (top 16), and in the semifinal event tonight she placed #7 (top 8 go to finals).

    Natalie entering the pool for her semifinal heat (second from bottom):
    [​IMG]

    Thursday we visited the Omaha Zoo but only lasted about 2 hours in the heat. Some of their exhibits are air conditioned which made it tolerable for that long. Those photos probably won't be added to my web site until I'm home-- just no time to get to them and sort through them right now. Lunch was at M's Pub. I had a reuben sandwich.

    Thursday night dinner was at Upstream Brewery. I had a salad and macaroni and cheese.

    Friday lunch was at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, about 2 miles from where I'm staying. We got the shuttle there from the Coughlins hotel and went to the lunch buffet. All you can eat shrimp and pecan pie was my perfect meal. [​IMG] It had cooled a little bit that I just walked back to my hotel from there to work off the calories.

    New photos start here: http://tom911.smugmug.com/Swimming/...rials/23765787_7xj652#!i=1936105995&k=SFpTj2s
     
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  17. doc
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    ----


    Did you mention that the Arizona Wildcats won the CWS (2-0) for the 1st time since '86 ? Oh yeah!

    Thanks for the fine report, Tom! :)
     
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  18. MSPeconomist
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    SPOILER ALERT: Natalie came in #6 in the 100 meters freestyle final and therefore YAY! is going to the Olympics in London. As expected, it was very close with almost no difference between #1 and #7.

    She gave a very gracious and honest mini-interview on NBC right after the event.
     
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  19. tom911
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    Natalie's parents, sitting next to me, are very happy :) Natalie could pick up 12th Olympic medal in London and may very well be voted team captain.
     
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  20. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Just in from dinner at Crave with her sister, parents and grandparents to celebrate. I have award tickets in place from last August on AA as well as hotel nights with Priority Club. Ready to go!

    Natalie placed 6th in 100 freestyle which qualifies her to be an alternate on the relay team for 4X100 freestyle relay. Very likely she would swim prelims unless needed to swim finals, but both prelim and final swimmers get Olympic medals and that gives her a shot at Olympic medal #12. Hopefully she'll be the team captain as she has the experience needed to guide younger swimmers going to their first Olympics. 17 year old Missy Franklin has been quoted a number of times this week as to how she could not imagine going to the Olympics without Natalie. See more in the article below:

    Natalie Coughlin sneaks onto Olympic swimming roster

     
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  21. tom911
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  22. steelgal32
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    Thanks for the updates!! I feel like i know natalie now and will be watching the swimming with much more interest.
     
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  23. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    And they didn't require attendees to wear speedos to the reception? ;)
     
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  24. MSPeconomist
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    What's the deal with the team captain? Do all of the male and female swimmers going to London vote for a single captain or are there separate men's and women's teams with their respective captains? When do they vote? And what does being captain really mean?
     
  25. tom911
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    I did have a Speedo T shirt on. Fortunately for me Speedo makes some other articles of apparel that this body will look much better in. :D
     
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