London’s Calling: Nick Thoman and Rachel Bootsma

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 17. TEN days until the London Opening Ceremonies. If July is going by fast for Olympic sports fanatics, imagine how it's flying by for the athletes competing in the Games. With Team USA currently fine-tuning across the pond, Swimming World continues it's Olympic series by profiling two athletes hoping to make a splash in rainy London. Only we're not talking about stomping in the puddles lining the streets — no, more like at the London Aquatics Centre, where the following two athletes will compete in the 100 backstroke.

Nick Thoman:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

Nick Thoman must have chlorine in his genes. His grandfather Richard Thoman, a prominent swimmer at Yale in the 1950's, once held a World Record in the 100 yard backstroke. Is it usual for World Records to skip a generation? Apparently in the Thoman household, as Nick set the World mark in the short course 100 meter backstroke at the 2009 London Duel in the Pool after leading off the World Record-setting 400 medley relay with Mark Gangloff, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian.

Flash-forward to the current year, and Nick is once again heading to London — this time for the Olympic Games.

After his 100 backstroke semi-final swim in Omaha, Nick told Swimming World, “It's going to take a hell of a race [to make the Olympic team]. It's going to be a dogfight tomorrow.”

Well, the dogs fought it out, and Nick came out with a second-place finish in the backstroke behind Matt Grevers, the Beijing silver medalist in the same event. Nick also placed third in the 200 backstroke, behind Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary.

Before making the Olympic team, Nick trained for several years under Coach Dave Marsh at SwimMAC Carolina. Back in May, Marsh made a bold prediction to the Charlotte Observer, stating:

“Nick will be a real contender this summer — not only to make the Olympic team, but to win an Olympic medal.” So far, one of his two predictions has come to fruition. We'll have to wait a few more weeks to see if the second half comes true.

Nick spent his collegiate career at the University of Arizona, training under former head coach Frank Busch. He was a three-time All-American for the 2005-2006 athletic season, and swam the backstroke leg of the NCAA-winning 400 medley relay that same year. Individually, he won bronze in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events.

The final of the men's 100 backstroke is set to air July 30th on NBC.

Rachel Bootsma:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

The women's 100-backstroke battle between Missy Franklin and Rachel Bootsma in Omaha seemed to reflect the mentality of “anything you can do, I can do better.” If Bootsma touched the wall in a 59.10, in the next heat Franklin would lower that mark to a 59.06. The two teenage friends battled it out until the finals, where both out touched Natalie Coughlin, the two-time defending 100 backstroke Olympic gold medalist, and earned themselves tickets to London in the process.

“I had to do a double take at the clock to see if I had gotten second,” Bootsma told Swimming World after the finals of the 100 backstroke.

Although Franklin may be getting most of the media attention, 18-year-old Minnesota native Bootsma has already cut her teeth on the National and International stage. In 2010, she took home an individual bronze at the Pan Pacific Championships in the 50-meter backstroke. The year before, at the US Open, she led off a 4×100 medley relay in under a minute, becoming the first Junior National swimmer to accomplish this feat.

Bootsma also has a few records to her name, including the current National Age Group record in the 100 backstroke. Her senior year at Eden Prairie High School, she set a National High School record in the 100 yard backstroke, bettering the mark initially set by Cindy Tran. Oh, and she was Swimming World Magazine's High School Swimmer of the Year.

Bootsma trained with the Aquajets under coach Kate Lundsten until Trials, and will attend UC Berkeley in the fall with an athletic scholarship under head women's coach Teri McKeever.

The final of the women's 100 backstroke is set to air July 30th on NBC.

Read the rest of the “London's Calling” Series by clicking on the link below:
London's Calling: Swimming World's Countdown to the Opening Ceremonies

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller
@ShoshyJean

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