Olympian Josh Davis’ Trials Training Camp Prepares Next Generation

Photo Courtesy: Josh Davis

By Allison Pierce, Swimming World College Intern

With the Olympic Trials only nine days away, the anticipation and excitement continues to rise. Not only is this event a big deal for the athletes competing, it is also a thrilling time for the athletes’ friends, family, and swim fans alike. However, many age group swim fans still need to stay in shape for their summer swim season when they travel to Omaha.

In 2008, Mutual of Omaha started offering practices coached by Olympians at the Brownell-Talbot Pool in Omaha so kids could stay in shape while watching the Olympic Trials. One of those Olympians is former 3-time Olympic gold medalist Josh Davis. Davis won three gold medals in 1996 at the Atlanta Games. In 2000, he returned to Sydney as the Captain of the United States’ Men’s Team and won two silver medals.

Mutual of Omaha’s Trials Training Camp has allowed swimmers of all ages and abilities to stay in shape while seeing record-breaking swims from top swim role models.  In fact, current American record holder in the 400-yard IM, Chase Kalisz, is an alumnus of the camp and is competing for a slot on this year’s Olympic Team.

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

“We have several alumni of the Mutual of Omaha Trials Training Camp that are now on the verge of making the Olympic Team,” Davis noted. In 2008, Kalisz attended the camp while watching his sister compete at Trials. Four short years later, Kalisz himself competed in the Olympic Trials, while his younger brother Connor Kalisz practiced at the same training camp.

Davis understands how influential role models can be, and aims to provide this same experience at the clinic. When Davis was 15 years old, his mom got tickets to watch his role model and 11-time Olympic medalist and world record holder, Matt Biondi, compete at the Olympic Trials.

“I watched him with my own eyes and thought how can anyone swim that fast?” Davis noted. Just 12 years later, Davis broke Biondi’s American record himself. “Seeing the Trials ignited a spark and a burning desire to be at this meet,” Davis said. “Now that it’s a larger production, I know kids will be motivated to be at this meet someday too.”

With the opportunity to watch records be broken, get unlimited Olympian signatures in the AquaZone, and now stay in shape during swim season, “heading to the Olympic Trials really does create the ultimate swimmer vacation,” Davis explained. Many people who attend the Olympic Trials are kids ranging from 9 to 18 because either they have siblings who are competing at the trials, want to see their role models in action, or simply want to watch some of the fastest swimming in the world.

“Mutual of Omaha’s goal – whether it’s insurance, finances, or swimming – is to provide the highest quality service for the best price. For the swimming community, the best service we can give is a practice fueled with inspiration, hard work, and technique,” Davis said.

Mutual of Omaha also brings along a few more famous Olympians as coaches including Jason Lezak, Ian Crocker, Kristy Kowal, and Kim Vandenberg. There are always at least two Olympians at each practice, along with some guest club coaches.

Practices run from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. before prelims, and from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. before finals, but it is sold out for this year. “It’s a similar practice to what you do at home, except you have four-time Olympian and world record holder Jason Lezak telling you to go faster,” Davis explained. “We also do sets themed according to the races that night.” For instance, if Michael Phelps is swimming the 200 fly that night, they will do a fly set that day.

While it may seem like an ordinary practice, training under Olympians and near the fastest swimmers in the country certainly adds an extra twist. According to Davis, before each practice they have a “pow-wow”, where the Olympians discuss with the swimmers who made the Olympic team the night before, and who did not.

“We talk about the little things in technique and mental attitude that make the difference between making the team and not making the team, there are hundredths of seconds that change the course of a person’s life.”

“Hopefully what they experience from Trials at training camp, and watching from the stands made a difference in making the team,” Davis added. “This year is a way to get kids ready for Tokyo 2020, and pass the baton on from one generation to the next. At the very least, it will help you have a great season in July.”

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