AquaHawgs Swimmer Talks About Competing At Olympic Trials

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SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- A local swimmer who swims for the AquaHawgs recently competed in the Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska.

Antonio Thomas, 18, has been swimming competitively for 10 years and has been a member of the AquaHawgs for eight. He found out he made the cut for the Olympic trials held in June while at Junior National in Orlando, Florida.

"I tried to not think about it until I was there, I didn't want to psyche myself out type of thing, but when I got there, I mean it was incredible, it was amazing," Thomas said.

Thomas swam the 1,500 meter freestyle at the trials.

He said it was incredible to see idols like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the same room.

"Growing up in this sport, you look at those guys and you think they are superheroes," Thomas said. "They're amazing and nobody can touch them and then you are walking around on the same pool deck and you realize that you are almost at the same level as they are."

Razorback Aquatic Club Head Coach Todd Mann said it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to Thomas' level. He said the athletes swim for up to 25 hours a week.

"Seeing the look on their face when they find out that they've qualified for Olympic trials, that's the most gratifying experience because once they get there, especially the first time, it's more of an awe-struck kind of thing and it's kind of the icing on the cake," Mann said.

Thomas will be swimming at Missouri State University this coming fall. He said his long-term goal is making to the Olympic trials again in 2020 and he's crossing his fingers he'll make it to Tokyo.

"That would be a dream come true and I'll be a senior in college," he said. "I'll be a little bit older, a little bit wiser and hopefully I'll make it happen."

Three other swimmers from the Razorback Aquatic Club also competed in the Olympic trials.