Three Panthers Head To Olympic Trials
June 21, 2012
MILWAUKEE - Next week, three members of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee swim team will head to Omaha, Neb. to swim in the United States Olympic Trials in search of a chance to swim for the US at this year's summer Olympics. Jordan Diel, Emily McClellan and Becky Yokosh will all compete next week with the Olympic dream in mind. We sat down with McClellan, who is ranked ninth overall in the 100 breaststroke, about what it's like to get this far and what it would mean to represent the US at this summer's games.
This is obviously an exciting time for you. What are your emotions and what is your mindset going into next week?
"I'm so excited. It's a huge opportunity and I'm really looking forward to going out and seeing what I can do and trying to stick with the girls. I don't have anything to lose because just being here is an accomplishment in itself, just like (nationals). This is just one of biggest goals ever, so I'm just going to soak it all in and be happy that I'm there."
How big of a goal was it to earn your Olympic trial cut last summer and were you surprised at all with your times?
"Last summer it was a goal to get my cut and make this meet. So, last summer when I accomplished that and got my cut I was very happy but it wasn't necessarily a surprise."
Now, most people watch the Olympics but these trials are a little less well-known. Can you explain what it's all about.
"Olympic trials are basically the tryouts for the Olympics. People just think, `Well, aren't the Olympians just the Olympians?' Well, they have to earn their spots, too. You kind of know who's amazing, like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, but at the same time they still have to earn their spot on the team, and that's what this is.
"There are probably about 1,500 girls that have cuts, so about 150-200 girls per event. There are prelims for all these events, so all the girls that earned their cuts will swim in prelims and then they'll take the top 16 finishers into the semifinals. Semifinals are swam later that night, so both of the first two swims are on the same day. And the top eight from semifinals will move to finals the next day, and after they swim finals, the top two make the Olympics and will be added to the Olympic team. It's a lot of racing."
Most of the year you swim wearing the Milwaukee black & gold uniforms. Talk a little bit about what it would be like to swim wearing the US uniform and represent your country.
"Oh my goodness. That would just be a total dream. I think it's kind of everyone's dream to represent their country and wear the colors."
I'm sure you watched the Olympics plenty when you were younger. Growing up, did you ever think you would have this opportunity?
"No, not really. I mean, I can remember watching and saying `Mom, I want to go to the Olympics,' but I didn't really think this would happen. It's kind of funny, if anything I thought it would be for gymnastics, not swimming. Swimming has always been one of my favorite events to watch at the Olympics, but if you would have told me four years ago that I'd be trying out for the Olympics I probably would have laughed in your face. But now here I am and I can't wait."
With Becky, Jordan and (hurdler) Durell Busby all also trying to make the Olympics, have you all kept in touch and talked with each other as this is going on?
"With Durell being in a different sport, I haven't really talked with him much, but Becky and I were roommates the past year and Jordan's sister Diana Diel is our other roommate, so Jordan and I are pretty close. We'll text each other and we've all been counting down the days. We're all so excited. We're swimming in less than one week so we're all really looking forward to it."