Thomas Vanderbrook graduated from Indiana University last month, and having achieved an academic goal will now shoot for an athletic one when he swims Monday at the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha in the hopes of making the team for Tokyo.
“Hey nowwww hey nowwwww, this is what dreams are made of. #SwimTrials21,” Vanderbrook posted on Instagram. “Someone pinch me” is what he wrote on Twitter.
Vanderbrook, 22, will swim in the men’s 200 individual medley in what is called Wave I of the swimming trials, basically a wild card round. If he finishes in the top two today, he will move on to Wave II a week later, also in Omaha, from which the Olympic team for Tokyo will be selected.
Vanderbrook is bisexual and wrote a powerful coming out story for Outsports in February on his struggles and how he finally achieved peace as an out athlete.
“I’m not afraid of being who I am,” he wrote. “Not afraid of loving whom I want to love. As I am into my senior year at IU, I have a clear mind. I’ve never felt happier. I’ve never felt more confident. I’ve felt more like my true self.
“I didn’t regret anything I had done during my coming out journey. It might seem odd to say but I enjoyed it, I really did, because it made me a stronger person. It made me appreciate life a lot more. I was able to breathe again.
“I’ve learned it’s important to take your time in your journey and take care of yourself, especially your mental health. Concealing one’s sexuality takes up a lot of effort and energy.”
Vanderbrook is clearly enjoying his time at the Trials and I loved this picture he took with his camera’s self-timer at the venue. He at first asked me to not run it since he’s “such a goofball,” but I convinced him that the photo shows total joy at such a great accomplishment of making the Trials.
Update: Vanderbrook finished seventh in his 200 IM final heat and will not be going to Wave II. Nonetheless, making the Trials was an amazing accomplishment for him.
You can reach Vanderbrook at [email protected], or Instagram: @Thomas_Vanderbrook or Twitter: @TVanderbrook