Dylan Rhee Secures His Ticket to Olympic Trials

Photo Courtesy: David Rodriguez

By Hannah Grynberg, Swimming World Intern.

This weekend at the Speedo Winter Invitational, after years of training, Dylan Rhee finally got his chance to qualify for the Olympic Trials, the most prestigious swim meet in the United States. On Sunday morning in the 200 breast prelims, Rhee swam a time of 2:17.74, under the Olympic Trials cut of 2:17.89.

This was not a surprise for Rhee when he found out his time. He has swum faster in the past (2:15.15) but not since the Olympic Trials qualifying period opened in late November.

“I had some sense that I would make it before 2020, but I was really glad to be able to do it now” he said, “It got a lot of pressure off of me knowing that I was officially going to the trials. It has been a dream come true. It has been something I wanted to do as a kid.”

Instead of cruising his morning swim and setting up a run at the Trials cut at night, Rhee got the job done in prelims.

“I was really relieved, there have been a lot of times where I wasn’t able to reach my goal time, or come close to it. I was afraid of that because I didn’t want the pressure of going in for the afternoon. But now that I can race pressure free, I’m excited to see what I can do tonight,” Rhee said.

As a younger swimmer, Dylan would watch both the Olympics and Olympic Trials to learn from the swimmers participating in it.  “I really enjoyed watching (Michael) Phelps and (Ryan) Lochte race in 2016. Also, Josh Prenot setting the 200 meter breaststroke American record, as I am a 200 breaststroker, that was really impressive.”

Despite his dream of making it to the Trials by 2020, Rhee did not picture himself there in his early teens, and he struggled with some doubt. “When I was 13 and 14, I didn’t really improve a ton. I was doubting that I ever would be able to make it up to that level, but the dream started to manifest itself and become a reality when I started high school.”

Like many successful swimmers, Rhee has a “swimming hero,” or someone that he looks up to, and learns from. “I really respect Zane Grothe after reading about him and seeing all of the struggles he had, and now that he has finally made it on the international and national stage. I really respect how much persistency he has had over the years,” he said.

A few hours after securing his Trials cut, Rhee was riding the excitement of his first Trials cut as he swam the 200 breast in finals. The result? Even faster: 2:17.56.

Rhee pumped his fist, his mission accomplished.

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