A dream put on hold

Junior qualifies for the US Olympic Swim Trials only for them to be postponed


Photo courtesy of Tony Miceli

Junior Mateo Miceli pounds his fist into the water and shouts with excitement after swimming a time of 2:02.58, which earned him a spot in the 2020 US Olympic Swim Trials. Little did he know, the Trials would later be moved to a new date in 2021. “When I first found out about the postponement I was pretty bummed,” Miceli said. “For now, I can only work on the things that are in my control, like staying in shape for the Trials next year.”

Dana Summers, Staff Reporter

On March 6th at the Pro Series meet in Des Moines, junior Mateo Miceli’s dream of qualifying for the US Olympic Swim Trials became a reality. He was all set to swim the 200-meter backstroke at the June 21-28 Trials in Omaha, until a global pandemic brought uncertainty.

Worldwide precautions were taken to fight the quickly spreading coronavirus (COVID-19), eventually including the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Unfortunately for Miceli and many others, no Olympic Games in 2020 meant no Olympic Swim Trial competitions either.

“Achieving an Olympic Trials cut had been Mateo’s biggest goal for a couple of years,” coach JB Barr said. “He watched the Trials in person in 2012 and 2016. His desire to be a part of the meet had driven him to work very hard in the pool to help get him there. He improved his turns and underwater kicking immensely over the past year, which was a key factor in helping him make the qualifying time.”

Before swimming his qualifying time of 2:02.58, Miceli had been training for the Trials with Barr and many others at Sarpy County Swim Club. Those close to him acknowledged the time and hard work that he had been putting in to achieve his goal.

“Mateo saw that he was getting closer to the Olympic Trial cut and knew he could actually achieve it,” mother Amy Miceli said. “He would come home from practice exhausted and tell me about some of the fast times that he was accomplishing, which gave him even more confidence. It was amazing to watch happen.”

After all of Miceli’s hard work to qualify for the Trials had finally paid off, he was disappointed to find out that they were being postponed.

“At the beginning of everything I didn’t think that there was any chance of the Olympics or the Trials getting canceled, but as things started getting worse I realized that it was probably going to happen,” Miceli said. “The bummer right now is that there’s no place open to swim, so it’s all about lifting on my own and doing my own dry land. Once pools start opening up, I will focus on preparing for the Trials and work towards getting even faster times.”

The Trials have been rescheduled for 2021, taking place June 13-20 still at the CHI Health Center in Omaha. With this information, Miceli and his coaches are focusing on the positives as they think about the Trials next year.

“The good news is that Mateo will still get to experience swimming at the Olympic Trials in his hometown, in the same venue where he watched Trials as a younger swimmer,” Barr said. “Mateo has also quickly re-focused to thinking about doing well at Trials in 2021. It might actually be a good thing for him since he will be a year older and more mature.

Miceli has not lost hope in this time of uncertainty and considers this only a short delay in living out his dream.