Eden Prairie's Bootsma: Ready for the Olympic trials

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2012 - 9:52 AM

The next time the 18-year-old from Eden Prairie competes in the 100-meter backstroke, it will be for an Olympic berth.

hide

Rachel Bootsma raced in the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix recently.

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, star-struck 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 has never wanted anything more. Yet at age 18, she has accumulated enough experience and wisdom to know that these trials, too, will propel her toward bigger things -- if not to the 2012 Olympics, then to her freshman season at the University of California 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.

Fractions of seconds

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 dry land 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.

Nerves for everyone

To calm herself as much as possible, Bootsma is trying to keep everything in her life low-key. She nixed the idea of a send-off 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 at Berkeley. 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-racking 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."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 62 3rd Qtr
New Orleans 44
Utah 43 3rd Qtr 10:29
Charlotte 55
Atlanta 13 1st Qtr 6:56
Houston 16
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 2 2nd Prd 8:58
Buffalo 0
Philadelphia 4 2nd Prd 16:08
Toronto 3
Ottawa 1 2nd Prd 15:29
Montreal 1
Washington 1 2nd Prd 9:17
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 0 2nd Prd 9:55
NY Islanders 0
Florida 1 2nd Prd 17:59
Pittsburgh 2
NY Rangers 0 2nd Prd 8:47
Carolina 1
Chicago 1 2nd Prd 9:31
Columbus 1
Nashville 1 1st Prd 14:15
Minnesota 1
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 77
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 79 1st OT 2:14
Auburn 76
Bluffton 35 2nd Half 14:30
Akron 64
NJIT 70 2nd Half 9:33
Central Conn St 58
Hofstra 42 2nd Half 16:26
Columbia 41
Boston Univ 32 2nd Half
Dayton 39
Iona 44 2nd Half 15:38
George Mason 55
Valparaiso 50 2nd Half 13:04
IUPU-Ft Wayne 53
Texas A&M 34 2nd Half 15:54
Kansas State 45
Morgan State 50 2nd Half 11:48
Manhattan 54
Saint Josephs 54 2nd Half 10:00
Marist 40
East Carolina 33 2nd Half 11:42
UNC-Wilmington 47
Richmond 35 2nd Half 18:55
Pepperdine 34
La Salle 38 2nd Half 14:55
Towson 24
Incarnate Word 40 2nd Half 15:39
UMKC 50
CS-Bakersfield 32 2nd Half
Idaho State 29
Iowa 29 2nd Half
Northern Iowa 23
Milwaukee 22 1st Half 4:40
SIU Edwardsville 20
Long Beach State 11 1st Half 15:34
Texas 13
TX-San Antonio 9 1st Half 12:31
TCU 9
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 10 4th Qtr
Air Force 23
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 69 2nd Half 1:42
Georgia State 66
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 60 2nd Half 10:07
Villanova 38
Delaware 46 2nd Half 10:54
Cincinnati 46
Troy 45 2nd Half 11:44
Tennessee St 52
Saint Louis 27 1st Half 0:29
Utah Valley U 24
Washington 14 1st Half 13:35
UC-Riverside 13
Pacific 0 1st Half 20:00
Long Beach St 0
Old Dominion 16 1st Half 13:44
Miami-Ohio 12
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday against Miami?

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