Think back to the summer before your senior year in high school. You were probably giving your college choices some thought. Doing a little summer travel, and spending time with friends in the pool.
Nick Orf and Heather Lundstrom are doing all of those things in varying degrees, but the work they're doing in the pool out of town this week in Omaha, Nebraska has the potential to land them in London, site of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Lundstrom qualified for the 100 and 200 Butterfly trial at state sectionals last summer prior to her junior season at , while Orf, a student, followed up with a qualifying time in the 200 Butterfly at Junior Nationals in Palo Alto last summer.
Lundstrom is first in the pool in Omaha, Monday morning. Orf jumps in Wednesday.
How does one go about his or her business after qualifying for an event their own coach calls the College World Series, the Final four and The National championship game all rolled into one, with nearly a year to think about it?
In the case of this pair, you win state titles.
Patch sat poolside with Orf and Lundstrom following one of their final pre-trial practices at Parkway North Friday afternoon. There's no question that they would love the opportunity to move on from Omaha to London, but they both downplay any real shot in 2012 and instead hope to learn what it takes to find their way to Rio in 2016.
"I think it would be not real--I can’t even imagine," Lundstrom said when asked if she had given thought to what she'd feel if she won a spot on the London roster.
"We’re going there more for the experience," Orf adds. Orf has a notable challenger en route to his possible Olympic experience--Michael Phelps--yes, THAT Michael Phelps. But Omaha won't be the first time he finds himself in the same race with the Olympic legend. He was in the same field earlier this year in Columbus and ended up posting a personal record time in the process.
Parkway Coach Jack Maddan shares his pupils' worldview of what lies ahead in Omaha this week. "I think what is realistic is there could be an opportunity for a second swim in the 200 FLY," Maddan said, talking about a spot in the semifinals. "If we got a second swim, that would be tremendous."
Lundstom said she's actually looking more forward to a pair of races later this summer, the U.S. Open and Junior Nationals to be held in Indianapolis, which offer more opportunities at her speed, and better chances at recognition.
Recognition is likely to come their way sooner than that, however. July 1 is the first day coaches can contact them with scholarship offers. Maddan said Minesosta, Virgina, Ohio State, Purdue and Missouri are among the programs looking at Orf while LSU, Tennessee, Texas and Missouri have inquired about Lundstrom.
But first things first. Maddan said he will do his best to keep his athletes "in the moment," in Omaha, while monitoring his own unfolding drama--his wife Mary Bridgett is due with their third child by the end of the month. The family recently moved from a Creve Coeur rental to a home near Parkway West in Chesterfield.
"It’s a dress rehearsal," he said of his dynamic duo. "If they choose the right university next year and they find the place that’s gonna put them on that track those two events, the 200 fly for the boys and the girls will be open in four years. People will have retired and they will open up for a lot of people," Maddan said.
And Maddan didn't discount the possibility that in four years time, some other Parkway swim team members could find themselves in the same position Orf and Lundstrom do this week.