After the Chicago Pride Parade, I started my eight hour drive to Omaha, Nebraska. I usually don’t have any trouble driving 8 straight hours, but after covering the parade for over three hours in the heat, I was exhausted. Around 2:00 am and 100 miles away from Omaha all the sudden I hit a brick wall. I was nodding asleep at the wheel and couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. Luckily, a Super 8 motel was two exits away. I pulled in, got a room, and for $58 I was fast sleep for a quick 4 hour nap. Waking up around 6:00am I was back in the car to finish the 100 mile drive to Omaha to prepare for day one of the USA Olympic Swimming Trials.
Downtown Omaha was a complete ghost town due to my being there 4 hours before the arena opened. I decided to sit at a Starbucks and finish up some odds and ends while I waited. Once it was time, I headed over to the arena to pick up my credential and parking pass. Hauling my gear all the away around the building to the back, I found the entrance and asked a security guard about where to pick up media credentials. Just my luck, they said you have to go back to the other side of the building to the credential/registration room. Frustrated, I began my walk all the way back to the other side of the building I started at in the first place. I had the security guy radio someone who could help me out. After waiting for 35 minutes someone came running in the door carrying a box of credentials apologizing because he was so late. I got my credential and was off to the media room to get all set up.
Once in the media room I introduced my self to the photo chief, who then took me around the arena to show where I could and couldn’t shoot. There were only five areas you could shoot from: pool side deck, first row of seats by the starting blocks, elevated by the television cameras, the concourse area, and the cat walk. Since it was day one of seven I didn’t wanna take a gamble so I went elevated. I could easily see the whole pool area and all of the lanes.
Everyday my editor would send me a list of swimmers to shoot, to ensure our clients had coverage of them for stories and lead ups prior to London. To be honest, going into this I didn’t know one thing about swimming besides who Michael Phelps was. I didn’t know any of the events or the different type of strokes or how long the pool was. I was a total noob!! By the end of the day I felt I was producing lack luster pictures, and I wasn’t happy with the shots. I told myself, I need to step up and separate myself from the rest of the photographers.
After a 13 hour day, I was exhausted and ready for bed. I made a reservation for a Holiday Inn Express about three blocks for the arena. When I arrived and went to the front desk to check in, they looked up my reservation and told me I wasn’t in the system. So I looked at my email confirmation and showed it to the lady at the front desk. She said “we don’t have a room for you because we don’t have your reservation in our system.” I about lost it at that point, I was exhausted and this was the last thing I needed. A useless 800 number phone call later, I was beyond enraged. I went back to the car to start looking for another hotel. Of course with this being an event most people plan months and months in advanced I couldn’t find a hotel with in 35 miles of downtown Omaha. I found this hotel called Oak Tree Inn in Fremont, NE. So I called them and hoped they had a room. They helped me book a room, and within a half hour I found the hotel. The hotel, in the middle of a corn field, had one diner adjacent to the building.When I walked into the Inn, I was pleasantly surprised. It was nice and clean and seemed to be recently renovated. The lady at the front desk said we have a weekly rate for $285; $715 less than what I would have been paying at the Holiday Inn Express. Who doesn’t love to save money!? The room was clean and had a nice comfortable bed which is all I needed. I would just be sleeping and showering there anyway. After a long day one I was off to bed!
Let’s fast forward a little bit. Day two through seven felt like I was actually in the movie Ground Hogs Day. I would wake up at the same time, grab breakfast at McDonalds, go to the arena to work for 12 hours a day, go to dinner, drive back to the hotel, sleep, repeat. The routine was boring, but I knew I had to stick it out because it was preparing me for the Olympics in London.
After seven long days here are my favorite images from the 2012 USA Olympic Swimming Trials!
Here is a picture of me mounting my remote in the cat walk.
I had the remote above lanes four and five to ensure i would get the top swimmers in just about ever heat.
Ryan Lochte (left) races along side Michael Phelps.
This show Phelps giant wing span.
Ryan Lochte competing in the backstroke.
The blow photo of Ryan Lochte I shot with a 600mm with a 1.4x giving me 850mm.
All week I have been hearing about this giant Michael Phelps swimming head that was sticking out of the ground, so on the way back to the hotel I decided to stop and check it out.
On the last and final day, I was so bored, I was busting out all the stops! I used a tilt shift lens, I was doing 1/15 sec zoom photos and I mounted a photo inside the starting block of the starting blocks.
Right before I left, I heard the reporters and tv stations interviewing Michael Phelps. With this being his last Olympics I want to build up a good archive of him.
After a covering a swimming for a week my next stop would be, Grand Rapids, MI on 4th of July to cover the 2012US Table Tennis Open to get some images of the USA Olympic Table Tennis members. Let’s just say that was an interesting experience! Be sure to check back in a few days for those images!