READY FOR THE TRIALS

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2012 - 12:18 AM

The next time 18-year-old Rachel Bootsma of Eden Prairie competes in the 100-meter backstroke, it will be to represent the USA in London.

hide

Rachel Bootsma

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

By this point, Jan and Rob Bootsma expected their Eden Prairie home to be awash in anxiety.

Their daughter Rachel had spent four years training toward the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, which begin Monday in Omaha, and she had established a distinct pattern before big meets. Rachel’s growing nervousness and excitement usually made her moody, even sullen, as she geared up for competition.

But on the verge of the most important meet of her career, something unusual happened.

“I was anticipating a house full of stress, where you look at her sideways and she’d get uptight,’’ Jan Bootsma said last week. “Instead, she’s been very positive and very calm. I’m not seeing the frazzled emotions I thought I might see.’’

The edginess still is there, Rachel said, as it always is. On Tuesday, she will swim in the preliminaries of the 100-meter backstroke, the race she has dreamed of, worked toward and sacrificed for since 2008.

Back then, she was a terrified, starstruck 14-year-old competing in her first Olympic trials. Just being there felt like the achievement of a lifetime. But Bootsma left that meet determined to reach higher, putting her on course to make the national team, race alongside Olympians and medal at major international meets.

To make the team for this summer’s London Olympics, she must finish first or second in one of the deepest fields of any race at the trials.

Bootsma never has wanted anything more. Yet at age 18, she has accumulated enough experience and wisdom to know that these trials, too, will propel her towards bigger things — if not to the 2012 Olympics, then to her freshman season at the University of California, Berkeley this fall and the road to the 2016 Summer Games. That has given her some measure of serenity, much to the surprise of her parents.

“I know I’ve trained harder than I’ve ever done before,’’ Bootsma said. “I’ve sacrificed so much. All that’s left is just to do the best I can. It would be hard not to make it, but it won’t be my last Olympic trials, and it won’t be the end of my swim career. I think about the trials all day, every day. I’m ready and I’m excited, but every day it gets closer, I get more and more nervous. The 100 back is going to be crazy. I’m prepared for whatever happens.’’

Bootsma will swim in five other events, but her sole chance to make the Olympic team will come in the 100 back. Her competition includes Natalie Coughlin, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medalist; Missy Franklin, the 2011 U.S. champion; Elizabeth Pelton, who twice has swum for the U.S. in the world championships; and Jennifer Connolly, silver medalist at the 2011 World University Games.

Coach Kate Lundsten predicted it will take a time of about 58 seconds to earn a spot on the Olympic roster. The American record is 58.94 seconds, held by Coughlin. Bootsma’s top time is 59.65, but this year, Franklin is the only American that has swum faster.

Bootsma has the 10th-fastest time in the world this year (1:00.02), while Franklin’s 59.89 is the eighth-fastest. Lundsten is among many who believe Bootsma’s best days remain ahead of her. Cal is known for producing Olympic swimmers, including backstrokers such as Coughlin.

As much as she wants Bootsma to become an Olympian this week, Lundsten said the promise of the coming years would ease any disappointment if it does not happen.

“To me, if she doesn’t make the team, that doesn’t mean she’s failed,’’ Lundsten said. “For her to be in this position, that shows me how good she has gotten in four years and how much better she’s going to get. I don’t think she’s come close to what she can do.’’

After tying for first place in the 100 backstroke at her last meet, the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix — and beating Coughlin in the finals — Bootsma kept to her strict schedule. She continued logging about 18 hours a week in the pool, along with dryland workouts. She began tapering her training about two weeks ago, following her usual routine. But she took no breaks during the week of her graduation from Eden Prairie High School earlier this month, and she told her parents she did not want a party.

Her mother conceded, reserving the right to hold one later — and to turn it into a victory bash should Rachel make the Olympic team.

Bootsma has been visualizing her race in detail, a task made easier by the familiar venue. The trials are at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, the same place they were in 2008, and she said her vivid memories of that meet make it hard to believe four years have passed. In the ready room before the 100 backstroke, she saw Coughlin’s high-tech swimsuit split open just minutes before the race, sending Coughlin into a tizzy.

Lundsten remembers how awestruck Bootsma was to be swimming in the same pool as Michael Phelps. It seems a bit surreal, Bootsma said, that she is now friends with the swimmers whose posters hang on her bedroom wall — and that she now possesses the confidence, strength and racing savvy to be part of the Olympic conversation.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 4 Top 3rd Inning
San Francisco 1
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 3rd Prd 13:44
Toronto 0
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd 13:25
Montreal 3
New Jersey 2 3rd Prd 10:59
Ottawa 1
Dallas 4 3rd Prd 8:45
NY Islanders 5
Detroit 2 3rd Prd 6:48
Philadelphia 3
Chicago 1 2nd Prd 11:10
St. Louis 1
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd 4:41
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd 6:33
Minnesota 6
Florida 0 1st Prd 10:58
Arizona 0
Washington 9:00 PM
Calgary
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 4th Qtr 5:05
Washington St 30
Texas-El Paso 27 4th Qtr 15:00
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 10 3rd Qtr 4:24
Colorado State 31
Syracuse 6 3rd Qtr 8:07
(21) Clemson 3
Texas State 7 4th Qtr 13:20
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 3rd Qtr 14:05
(24) LSU 3
(4) Alabama 27 3rd Qtr
Tennessee 10
So Carolina 21 3rd Qtr 14:07
(5) Auburn 21
(13) Ohio State 10 2nd Qtr 6:52
Penn State 0
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 2nd Half 10:00
New England 1
Portland 0 1st Half 7:00
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 13 15:00
Winnipeg 17
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday in Tampa Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close