Splash - May/June 2012 - (Page 34)

DaniLe JoHnson PHotoGRaPHy MEANWHILE, BACKSTAGE... S pectators at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials will be privy to a special show: laser light displays, waterfalls, pyrotechnics, a glowing competition pool, and of course some of the most incredible races of all time. But there’s another show not visible to fans. Trials veterans Jessica hardy and Ricky Berens go behind the scenes with Splash to share what only a very few experience. by Bonnie Moss tHE EMotioNAl RollER coAstER In a meet where only first and second make the Olympic Team, coming in third, even by one one-hundredth of a second, seems brutally unfair. But it has happened, and to add insult to injury, swimmers are required to answer media questions immediately following their races. Reporters are anxious to capture every raw feeling live on film and someone who just sacrificed everything to train for this one moment, only to miss their shot, must hold their composure, look into the cameras and logically explain to the folks back home what just happened. When the cameras stop rolling and the swimmer walks on to the warm-down pool, spectators and fans don’t see all the emotions exploding behind the halls. It’s everything from screams of excitement for making the team, to anger and sobs from missing their opportunity. The coaches take a big brunt of this, too. They see the extreme good and bad moments and have to share their disappointment with one swimmer while almost simultaneously sharing their excitement with another who just qualified. “It’s two total extremes,” says Hardy. “You see everything from ecstatic behavior to severe disappointment. There is just a ton of crying, whether it’s from heartbreak or happiness. The good thing is that everyone is so supportive. Hugs are everywhere on deck.” “It’s obviously worse at night because it’s finals and everyone’s emotions are at an all-time high. It is so hard to make the team that you just have to put it all out there.” Berens, who had just qualified for the Team in 2008, experienced the burden when his close friend and teammate didn’t make it. “It’s hard to act like it’s not a big deal because it is,” Berens said. “He was very supportive of me, but I could see it in his eyes how painful his loss was.” tHE GRUEliNG scHEDUlE A typical evening for an Olympic Trials finalist is exhausting, and that doesn’t include the racing. At the 2008 Trials, after swimming prelims earlier in the day and qualifying for evening finals, the minute-by-minute agenda for Berens’ and Hardy’s later performance left little room to enjoy victory. Following evening warm-ups, Hardy went to the locker room to change into a dry suit – which, going solo, can be a 30 minute strenuous effort with the old fullbody suits. From suit changes, it’s on to the ready rooms, where the top eight finalists in the race meet before being marched out on deck in front of the screaming spectators. Finalists were individually announced behind their blocks, and they stepped up to compete in the race of their lives. After their races, Hardy and Berens had but a few precious moments to absorb what happened. They gave a few hugs, exited the pool and waved to the crowd. From this moment on, minutes ticked off like seconds. With the other seven finalists and fresh out of breath, he walked through the mixed zone and talked to reporters, a mandatory job for all finalists. Berens then tried to warm down a few hundred yards, but it was nearly impossible with his emotional high. “I had to stop at each wall to talk to whoever was there,” he says. “I think I just hopped around. I had no desire to warm down even though I had to race the next day.” He was still on a time crunch to fit in a talk with his coach and parents, and get dressed and look presentable for the awards ceremony. He still had to provide a drug test, eat dinner and get back to his hotel as fans stopped him with endless requests for auto- EliZAbEtH pEltoN 34 splAsH • May/June 2012 • The TRIALS ISSue

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Splash - May/June 2012

Splash - May/June 2012
About Trials...
Mike Gustafson
Swim Briefs/Justin Case
Top Ten Tweets/Point-Counterpoint
Keys to Success
Training With
Athletic Foodie
Olympic Trials Preview
The Swimmers
Rank & File
Third Is No Charm
Repeat Performance
Trials Pressures
Behind the Scenes
The Venue
Alex Meyer
Making the Team
Swim Nut Zeke
Ultimate Pump-Up Song
Best Race Ever
America’s Swim Team Athletes

Splash - May/June 2012