Of all the lessons Luke Nosbisch gleaned from his participation in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials last week, one stood out most.
"Not to be stressed," Nosbisch said with a deep breath and a chuckle. "Now that I have raced one, I should be more comfortable swimming at that particular meet again, and any of the bigger meets I'm in in the future."
Good point. They don't come much bigger than the Olympic Trials -- unless, of course, one actually qualifies for the Olympics when there.
But that is for the truly privileged few -- the top few percent of the top 1 percent, if you will. The fact Nosbisch did not achieve that is no shame.
Nosbisch, a Gateway High School graduate and rising sophomore at Pitt, qualified for the 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter breaststroke for the meet that is used to select Team USA for the upcoming Olympics that begin later this month in London, England.
Nosbisch did not qualify for the Olympic team, but that is a mere footnote for an experience that, just by getting to that point, is an accomplishment not matched by many in his sport.
"Just to be able to come as a swimmer to the Olympic Trials is an experience when you figure that less than 1 percent of the competitive swimmers in the U.S. get there," said Nosbisch's coach, Al Rose. "It's one of the top swimming meets in the world."
It's also quite the spectacle. The 18,000-plus-seat CenturyLink Center in Omaha was packed to the gills during parts of the meet, which lasts more than a week due to myriad events and heats.
With the stakes what they are, the big-name, world-renowned former Olympic Gold Medalist athletes on hand such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte and a nationally televised audience in addition to those in the arena, it's little wonder the enormity of the meet often gets to the swimmers.
Rose estimated that maybe 20 percent of the athletes finish with a time that they qualified with or better. Nosbisch was no different, swimming the 100 breast in 1:06.40 on June 25 and the 200 in 2:24.12 on June 28.
"He looked really good going into the [June 25] event, but if you look, most swimmers don't do their best times," Rose said. "There's a lot of pressure, you've got 20,000 people there watching. To get to the Olympic Trials and not give your best times, it's disappointing. But that doesn't take anything away from getting there. That says something in itself.
"He's a good kid who works extremely hard. He's a bright enough kid that he knows what to work on. He'll have a big coming year."
Growing up, Nosbisch trained under Rose with the Jewish Community Center Sailfish. He won two WPIAL Class AAA gold medals in the 100-yard breaststroke, placing fifth in the event at the 2010 PIAA championships and second the following year as a senior.
Last summer, Nosbisch recorded a 2:20.15 finish at the Erik Namesnik Senior Circuit meet in the 200-meter breast. He swam the 100-meter breast in a time of 1:04.25 at the USA Speedo Championship Series/Eastern Zone South Regional this March.
As a freshman at Pitt this past season, Nosbisch advanced to the consolation finals at the Big East Championships in the 100-meter breast (13th) and the 200-meter breast (10th). He narrowly missed the consolation finals in the 500M free at the conference meet.
Nosbisch is raising his goals and expectations for his sophomore season and beyond.
"I want to try to qualify for NCAAs," Nosbisch said, referring to the national-level collegiate championship meet.
No matter what happens the rest of his swimming career, Nosbisch can say he qualified for Olympic Trials at the age of 19. Nosbisch was among the youngest of the 130-plus who competed in each of his events.
"Just the experience of it -- it really didn't matter where I placed," Nosbisch said. "At least it gave me some experience."