At 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Mission Hills native Bobby Bollier will line up in lane 4 of the US Olympic Swimming Team Trials pool in Omaha, Neb. with four laps between himself and his dream: a trip to London to represent his country in the Olympic Games.
By swimming a 1:56.06 200 meter butterfly in the preliminary finals Wednesday – fully a half-second faster than he swam in the heats Wednesday morning — Bollier secured his spot as the leader heading into tonight’s finals.
But getting his ticket punched to London is anything but guaranteed. Bollier will have to contend with Davis Tarwater, who led by as much as half a body length in Wednesday’s heat against Bollier despite ultimately finishing second, Tyler Clary, who came in fourth in the prelims Wednesday but holds a personal best of 1:53.64 in the event, and — oh, yeah — Michael Phelps, who NBC’s announcers called “the greatest swimmer of all time” during Wednesday’s broadcast.
Phelps holds the world record in the event at 1:51.51 – and had already swam a finals heat Wednesday night before taking the pool for the 200 meter butterfly prelims.
Bollier’s mother Barbara noted after Wednesday’s morning heats that Bollier was in a difficult position of having to set the pace for the other top contenders because his morning heat came before theirs.
“He swam before Clary and before Phelps, so they knew what the pace was and how fast they had to swim,” she said.
The final will be broadcast at 7:45 p.m. on NBC.