VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) —With the 2021 Tokyo Olympics right around the corner, some swimmers in Hampton Roads are preparing for the Olympic trials.
This year, 7 members of the Tide swim team in Virginia Beach will take their talents to Omaha to compete against the best in the country.
Four are currently on the team, and three are in college, but came through the program.
Saturday morning, their swim family held a sendoff poolside filled with decorated posters, and red, white and blue balloons, for the qualifiers before they head out next week.
“This has been the first chance to celebrate them and their achievement and send them off the right way and make sure the little ones know, ‘hey that’s my teammate and that could be me at some point,'” said head coach of Tides Swim, Richard Hunter.
When the pandemic hit, Nikki Venema who attends Princeton University came back to train with the Tides full time.
She and Emily Claesson are just two of the swimmers headed to the trials ranging in ages 16 to 21.
“I’m just really excited this is something I’ve dreamed about. I thought I was going last year then the whole pandemic happened.
But it’s given me a lot more time to reflect and prepare for this competition,” said Venema.
Venema is a Kellum HS alum, while Claesson is soon to be one.
“I think the Olympic trials is a big goal and I’m very proud I achieved it. I’m so excited to go to Omaha and experience it,” said Claesson.
The other qualifiers who are still here locally are Sam Tadder and Kayla Wilson and those in college are Elle Caldow, Lauren Barakey, and Callie Dickenson.
The Olympic trials start June 4, and these strong competitors are ready to bring it in true Virginia Beach fashion with their community behind them.