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Local swimmers serve as basket carriers for U.S. Olympic Trials

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OMAHA, Neb. (KTIV) - There is an army of volunteers that help make the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, in Omaha, run smoothly. Some of the hardest workers are the ones that you may never see.

"It's crazy," said Maria McGowan, Basket Carrier. "It just feels unreal." Brigid and Maria McGowan are two Sioux City swimmers acting as basket carriers for the U.S. Swim Trials, in Omaha. "There's no way to describe it," said Brigid McGowan, Basket Carrier. "It's just an amazing feeling."

The basket carriers have less than a minute to march onto the competition pool deck, empty basket in hand, and exchange it for the basket filled with the swimmer's gear. "They get back into their military formation, and they are off the block, down the steps, and the baskets have to be on the back tables, so when the swimmers get out of the water their stuff is there," said Shana Frodyma, Basket Carrier Coordinator.

The swimmers' stuff" can be anything you can think of. "We've got a parka, which is a big coat keeping them warm," said Maria McGowan, Basket Carrier. "You've got at least size 13 shoes. Wet towels, and masks and earbuds."

The job of basket carrier isn't an easy one to get. About 100 young swimmers were picked out of a field of more than 350. There job is very serious. When they're on the pool deck, many have to fight the urge to be a fan. "It's hard to pull yourself in, and not ask for an autograph and say 'oh my gosh, you're my favorite'," said Brigid McGowan, Basket Carrier.

The opportunity these kids have gives them a goal. Not to be a basket carrier, but a competitor. "I definitely hope to be here one day," said Maria McGowan, Basket Carrier. "I don't know if I'll be here," said Brigid McGowan, Basket Carrier. "Fingers crossed. I don't know. Maybe one day."

In addition to grabbing the basket, which is filled with the swimmers' gear, and replacing it with an empty one for the next race, the basket carriers also dry off the starting blocks before leaving the way they came. It all takes less than a minute.

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Matt Breen

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