Pleasanton Seahawks go to Olympic Trials
Hometown swimmers make big splash in Omaha
As the youngest competitor in the 200 Individual Medley Final at the 2012 Olympic Team Trials for swimming, Celina Li, a Pleasanton Seahawk, finished sixth overall.
"I just wanted to make it to finals and have fun. I wanted to give it everything that I had and hold nothing back. I didn't want to say 'what if I tried harder?'" said Li, a student at Foothill High School.
The trials took place June 25 thru July 2 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. The eight-day swim meet featured over 1,500 swimmers, including swimming legends Michael Phelps, Dara Torres, Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte.
Four Pleasanton Seahawks qualified for the meet: Catherine Breed, Allison Brown, Celina Li and Nick Silverthorn.
For Celina, Nick and Allison, Olympic Trials was a new experience.
"The kids are used to the normal pre-race anxiety, but trials provides a completely different type of anxiety," explained Seahawks coach Steve Morsilli.
"The first day I was a little bit nervous. It can be really intimidating walking out to all of the bright lights. It got a lot better as the meet went on," said Celina.
Morsilli has been taking swimmers to trials every four years since 1988.
"I would have to say the highlight for me is taking kids who have never been to trials. It's a very different atmosphere, and I enjoy preparing them for it," said Morsilli.
The Seahawks had a busy eight days, as each swimmer was entered in several events. Celina competed in the 200m and 400m Individual Medley, 100m and 200m Breast, and the 100m and 200m Butterfly. Catherine swam the 100m, 200m and 400m free. Allison raced the 200m, 400m and 800m free and the 200m and 400m I.M. Nick competed in the 200m and 400m free.
"The swimmers all came to the meet with individual goals in mind. Going all best times was the ultimate goal, but they all came up with goals outside of that as well," Morsilli said.
With 10% of all swims being best times, the Seahawks performance was better than the average; 45% of their times were improved.
With fast times and big races, the Olympic Trials was an exciting meet for the Pleasanton Seahawks.
The excitement at Omaha was also felt here in Pleasanton, as many tuned in to watch local swimmers compete for a spot on the Olympic team.
"I've always watched the Olympic Trials with serious USA pride, but this year watching girls who I had swam with in high school compete for a spot on the London team, my excitement level increased significantly. For them to be competing at such a high level was such an amazing thing to watch," said Rachel Usedom, a Foothill High School graduate.