To calm herself as much as possible, Bootsma is trying to keep everything in her life low-key. She nixed the idea of a sendoff celebration with the swim team, but she did allow friends to host a small barbecue in her honor. As well-meaning people bombard her with questions, Bootsma has tried not to be overwhelmed by pressure or expectations.
“Everyone is excited, and I really appreciate their support,’’ she said. “I know they’re not trying to make me nervous, but it’s hard. And my mom, who is just as nervous as I am, is getting a million questions a day.’’
Jan Bootsma said Rachel has had some happy distractions lately, including instructions from Cal about how to prepare for her freshman year of college. Rachel also is practiced in shutting out the rest of the world while she readies her mind for the task ahead.
Her parents have lost track of how many supporters will be coming to Omaha. A horde of aunts, uncles, cousins and even some teachers from Eden Prairie are planning to make the trip. While Rachel takes comfort in the fact that she has worked as hard as possible to prepare, that makes it no less nerve-wracking for her folks.
“It will be really hard just to watch,’’ Jan Bootsma said. “It’s always so stressful. If she has a good swim, it will be wonderful; if she doesn’t, it will be really frustrating. There will definitely be a sense of relief when it’s over.’’
There also will be a sense of melancholy. The Olympic trials will be Bootsma’s last major meet before she leaves Lundsten, the Aquajets swim team and her family to go to college. All of them have been pondering that lately, investing the trials with even more emotion.
When Bootsma steps onto the pool deck Tuesday, she will try to push that aside, trusting that all her effort over the past four years has prepared her for this moment — and for all that lies beyond.
“If I give it everything I’ve got, that’s all I can ask for,’’ she said. “As long as I know I put it all out there, I’ll be OK.’’