OMAHA — The journey to the Tokyo Olympics goes through Omaha, Nebraska.
“It’s insane watching people make the Olympic team in person, is unreal,” said Kristen Stege, US Olympic Trials athlete.
The U.S. Swim Trials set the stage, with over 1,500 athletes between the two waves, competing for around 50 spots on the USA roster.
“Fifty kids maybe make the Olympic team but for the other 1,500 this is the Olympics,” says Josh Todd, Executive Director of the Omaha Sports Commission. “That’s why we go all out it is the biggest swim meet in the world.”
Todd says he can feel the excitement the weeklong event brings across the community, “It’s a lot more than sports but when you add the Olympic trials aspect it makes it special.”
Malin Wolfson and her family drove from Colorado just to watch.
“Enthused so much the entire way here I was just geeking out about how I was able to be within a mile radius of these people it’s incredible what they’ve done with the sport,” said Wolfson.
As she watches from the stands she sees her future. “It shows you, if you always keep going and never give up you can do great things.”
Amanda Nunan of the University of Tennessee qualified for three trial events and for her that future is now.
“From going from watching people we grew up watching to actually being with them in the warm-up pool is an insane experience,” Nunan said.
The same goes for Gillian Davey of the University of Kentucky.
“It’s been my goal to swim here since I was six and I’ve been really nervous but just soaking it in.”
The largest swimming event in the world has navigated the rough pandemic waters and now Olympic dreams once on hold can become a reality for fans, athletes and communities that cheer them on to glory.
“Kind of signifies we are back not just for economic impact but social and boost our confidence as a city community and country,” said Todd.