CHARLOTTE, N.C. -Borrowing from a hit song by English band "The Clash" - is London calling for Tim Phillips?
Within the next week, the former Marietta Marlin and Parkersburg High School standout will learn his fate as he prepares for the U.S. Olympic swim trials.
Competition for the eight-day event begins today at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. It's the same venue and same format where four years ago Phillips advanced to the semifinal heats of the 100 butterfly.
Photo courtesy of USA Swimming
Former Marietta Marlins standout Tim Phillips is vying for a spot on the United States Olympic swimming team. Phillips will compete in the 100 butterfly during the U.S. swimming trials beginning Monday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
This time as a 21-year-old, Phillips is rated among the elite swimmers and looks to lock down a berth on the team scheduled to represent the United States for the 2012 Summer Olympics taking place July 27 to Aug. 12 in London.
"The first time I competed at the U.S. Olympic trials, I went more as a swim fan - I wasn't really a swimmer," Phillips admitted. "This week, I will be watching less of the swimming events and what's involved with the big-time atmosphere until I have to race.
"Some nights, I may not ever go to the finals. I might just stay back at the hotel and rest. This is more of a business trip than a party."
According to the psych sheets, Phillips is ranked third in the 100 butterfly with a seed time of 51.69. Seeded ahead of him are Michael Phelps (50.65) and Tyler McGill (51.26). The top two placewinners in each individual event secure a spot on the national squad.
"It almost doesn't come down to time," Phillips said. "It's whoever has the better race, and I plan on being there - either first or second."
Taking a year off as a member of the Ohio State University program and enlisting his services with SwimMAC Carolina and CEO/director of coaching David Marsh has given Phillips an added edge.
"This is probably the best decision I have ever made for my career," Phillips said. "I have a different outlook on the sport. It's made me a better swimmer."
Initially, his father (Tom Phillips) - who served as Tim's coach throughout the YMCA program - had reservations about seeing his son commit to the SwimMAC outfit. He wanted to make sure the training fit Tim's needs. After learning that the system was compartmentalized, Tom Phillips felt more at ease.
"My other reservation was whether Tim was making a valued judgment based on Tim, and I give him a lot of credit in doing that," Tom Phillips said. "He is smart enough to understand that if he wants to make the commitment and try to make the team, he had to do it in an environment more conducive to his training."
Tim Phillips will arrive in Omaha, Neb., today. He is entered in three events,including the 50 and 100 freestyles. His chances of advancing to the final heats in those two races are slim, but the experience will acclimate him to the atmosphere.
"You have 10,000 people watching you - the crowd is loud, plus they have fireworks and fire and all sorts of lights and music," Phillips said. "It's like an event with swimming mixed in. To a point I will block it out, but I also like to feed off that excitement.
"One thing I can't let happen is be there at the finals that first night and get super pumped, and lose all that emotion for the rest of the week."
Phillips' first prelim race occurs on Thursday with the 100 freestyle where he is seeded 32nd with a time of 50.17. The semifinal heats are slated for later that evening with the finals on Friday.
Then comes Saturday. In the 50 freestyle, Phillips is seeded 101st at 23.31. That same morning, he begins his quest in the 100 butterfly. The semifinals for those particular races takes place later that night with the finals conducted on Sunday.
"I've already had my taper, so I am doing a lot with my activities during the day to maximize that rest," Phillips said.
"I don't think I could be more ready."