OMAHA, Neb. -- With the 2008 U.S. Olympic Swim Team Trials underway, a Putnam County link to the big event will be joining the fray on Friday.
So when the eyes of the nation are turned on Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff, local swimming fans' eyes will be set on 2006 GHS graduate Andrew Bretscher.
As a swimmer at Ohio State and Auburn, as well as a high school state champion, Bretscher has seen his share of big meets. On the other hand, swimming for a chance at the Olympics is a whole new animal.
"I'm a little nervous going in, but I'm pretty used to big meets. This is the biggest meet I've ever swam in," Bretscher said.
Overall, though, the 20-year-old is just looking forward to the experience.
"I'm feeling good. I'm excited to swim," he said.
Bretscher isn't alone in his excitement, though. He is one of 14 Buckeyes competing at the trials. The entire group has spent the summer training together and just enjoying the experience all around.
"It's been a real good environment," Bretscher said. "We're having over 10 people go, so we've been training together for the past month or so after we started to taper.
"It's been good and we've all been talking about it and looking at pictures of the pool," he continued. "We're all getting real excited and pumping each other up."
The big change for all the college athletes, though, is in the nature of the events. Bretscher is swimming in the 100-meter butterfly, as opposed to the 100-yard butterfly in the college season. This means he is swimming approximately 10 extra yards.
Additionally, Olympic events are contested on a long course pool, which is 50 meters long as opposed to 25 yards.
"It's a long course meet, so we've been swimming long course, unlike the college season," Bretscher said. "Basically, it's the same things."
Bretscher qualified for the trials in the first week of April, so another challenge has come in the extremely long break before a very big meet. They've done what they can to prepare for the race environment, though.
"It's been since the first week of April that I competed. We've been doing a lot of race strategy stuff in practice, like race rehearsal. We're doing fast 50s, fast 25s for time, stuff like that," Bretscher said.
As local swimming fans know, the Bretscher family has done quite well in the swimming world, particularly as coaches. Andrew's father Paul is a retired swim coach at GHS. Brother Daniel is the current GHS coach, and mother Mary is the DePauw women's coach. They haven't offered any extra advice as Andrew approaches the trials, though.
"They're just letting me do my own thing," he said.
Bretscher's preliminary heat will swim in Friday's early session at Omaha, which begins at noon. The men's 100 fly is the third event of the session.
"I'm hoping I can drop some time and move up my position. Hopefully it goes that way," Bretscher said.
Should Bretscher swim well enough, he will come back Friday evening for the semifinals, another goal he would like to see come true. The evening session begins at 7:45 p.m.
"I'm just really going to try going and get a great swim out of it," he said. "It would be awesome if I could make it back for the second swim."
The finals of the men's 100 fly will be during the Saturday evening session.
While Bretscher is aware that he is competing for a place on the U.S. Olympic team on our nation's birthday, he really isn't thinking too much about it. He has a big meet on Friday. That's probably enough.
"I'm just approaching it as a big meet. I think it's pretty cool that it's on the Fourth of July," Bretscher concluded.