During the past few years, Rachel Bootsma knew that every workout, meet and practice session brought her a little closer to the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. Her personal countdown to the 100-meter backstroke -- and her chance to make the team for the London Olympics -- hits zero on Tuesday morning with the preliminaries of that race at Omaha's CenturyLink Center.
"I'm excited and I'm ready,'' said Bootsma, 18, of Eden Prairie. "I think the 100 back is going to be crazy.''
• The story so far: A member of the U.S. national team and Eden Prairie's Aquajets, Bootsma is trying to make her first Olympic team. She is seeded third in the 100 backstroke, her signature event. The top two finishers make the Olympic roster, and Bootsma's competition includes two-time Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin and defending national champion Missy Franklin.
• The race: 167 swimmers are entered in the preliminaries of the 100 back, which begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The 16 fastest advance to Tuesday night's semifinals. The top eight will compete in Wednesday night's finals.
• Her schedule: Bootsma began competition Monday with the preliminaries of the 100-meter butterfly. She finished 23rd overall in a personal-best time of 1 minute, 0.13 seconds. It was a solid opener for Bootsma, who was seeded 34th. "She's feeling good,'' coach Kate Lundsten said.
• Track her progress: The preliminary heats will be shown via tape delay Tuesday on NBC Sports Network (5:30 p.m.). Tuesday's semifinals and Wednesday's finals will be shown on Ch. 11 beginning at 7 p.m. Full results at www.usaswimming.org.