Tim Gallagher will make his debut at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials Thursday in the 200 backstroke. Bremerton's Nathan Adrian, a new father, swims Wednesday in the 100 freestyle
Kitsap County has provided its fair share of U.S. swimming Olympians since 2004 with at least one swimmer on Team USA since then.
This week, Tim Gallagher, a Kingston High graduate, Washington state champion, swimmer of the year and high school All-American, and now sophomore at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, hopes to join the list of West Sound Olympians.
Gallagher will swim in the 200-meter backstroke, which begins with Thursday’s prelims at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.
Gallagher will be swimming against some of the top names in his event, including Ryan Murphy.
“I’m excited, it should be fun,” Gallagher said.
Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian, a new father, will begin his quest for his fourth Olympics when he hits the pool on Wednesday for the 100 freestyle prelims.
Both swimmers have endured the ups and downs of a year-long delay to the Games after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed during the worldwide lockdowns.
But the delay might turn out to be in Gallagher’s favor as he gained another year of experience.
“I feel after training this year more confident of my capabilities as a swimmer,” he said. “Just having an extra year to mature and, even though the Covid pandemic, I’ll be prepared mentally. I’ll be able to cope with (the stress of trials). That’s not all that matters anymore.”
Gallagher has been training with a group of teammates following the conclusion of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships in February. The Rainbow Warriors men’s team finished second to BYU and Gallagher contributed greatly to his team’s success. He won the 200 backstroke in a time of 1:43.84 after placing second in the event his freshman year.
Choosing Hawaii over other multiple offers he received coming out of high school has proven to be the right choice.
“They gave me a great opportunity to come here to study and swim for a good team and it’s been an amazing opportunity and I haven’t had any problems,” he said. Gallagher, who made the All-Academic team this year, said his biggest success was his ability to focus on school, swimming and fitting in having fun in Hawaii around that.
“It’s not like this is the only place for me, it’s a choice where you fit in,” he said. “Obviously it’s a great place to be.”
Gallagher said having one-on-one sessions with his coaches and a small training group leading up to this week’s trials is a win in his eyes.
“I’ve never had a pool that I could do long-course training,” he said. “We’ve got a small group and … (they’re) easy to push you. I definitely feel more confident about my capabilities as a swimmer.”
Gallagher’s journey back to the pool began last October. After being out of the water since March of 2020 — he came back to Kingston — during the lockdowns and with the additional shutdown of workout facilities, it was definitely something to deal with, Gallagher said.
Improvisation became the name of the game.
Running and drylands workouts were now the norm but for a sport like swimming, being forced out of the water will cause a lack of progress.
Gallagher missed out not only on his final months of college in 2020, but the opportunity to participate in the U.S. National Junior Championships of which he was a member. It would have been his first national championships — something Bremerton swimmers Adrian, and sisters Tara and Dana Kirk, and Bainbridge’s Emily Silver were named on their way to the Olympics.
Gallagher said it was hard to stay focused once the Olympic trials were cancelled last year.
“I wasn’t super motivated from that point,” he said adding the realization he wouldn’t be able to swim and compete for a while set in. “There’s nothing that directly translates to swimming except swimming.”
As the restrictions started to lift, Gallagher and his teammates were able to get back to the beaches in Hawaii. That was more of a relief for his mental health than anything else.
“I didn’t realize how much I missed it,” he said after his nine-month delay.
Gallagher is also realistic when it comes to his chances to make the Olympic team in his event.
“I don’t have Olympic intentions this year, if it happens it happens, but get it under my belt, have a really good race and have a good experience to learn at a (big) meet,” he said. “It’ll be fun.”