Special Report: Olympic Dreams

UPDATE: Callie Dickinson of Virginia Beach is ranked 15 in the top 16 in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials. Her time today (July 1) in the 200m backstroke was 2:12:14, beating her previous time of 2:13:23 by more than a second.

She will swim Friday night in the first semi-final round. Look for her in Lane 1.

U.S. Olympic Team Trials Results


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) —  As the 2016 Rio Olympic Games inch closer, a 16-year-old girl from Virginia Beach is competing to swim for Team USA.

Callie Dickinson is in Omaha, Nebraska, swimming at the USA Swimming Olympic Trials at the moment, competing for a spot against the top one percent of swimmers in the nation. 10 On Your Side’s Deanna LeBlanc followed Callie around for a day recently to learn what it takes to reach an Olympic dream.

While Callie still sleeps, her father Bill Dickinson begins his morning at 3:40 a.m. — planning, prepping and packing food to fuel his teenage daughter.

“Her swim schedule is very grueling. The hours, the time, mixed into her schooling and education. In order for it to work, she has to stay on schedule. He’s the master schedule. He keeps them going,” Bill’s wife Dayna says of his routine.

“I hear her [Callie’s] alarm at 4:08. She’s downstairs at 4:18,”  Callie Dickinson gets exactly ten minutes to scarf down breakfast, then she’s out the door.

Every day before school, she works out in the gym or the pool. Then a full day of classes at Norfolk Academy, where she also excels. Then it’s back to the pool for three more hours before dinner. Callie spent the last year competing to qualify for the Olympic trials. She’s placed in 4 events — happening this week — with the hope of making the cut for Team USA.

“It’s always been my goal. I’ve always wanted to make trials since I was 9 or 10,” Callie Dickinson said. “I knew what the meet was and I was like, ‘Wow, I really want to get there.'”

“She’s among the top five in the country in the events that she swims,” explained Tide Swimming Coach Josh Fulton.

Fulton has trained Callie for the last four years, but has been her coach off and on since she was about nine-years-old. He says Callie’s dedication to her sport at such a young age impresses him.

“The amount of training that it takes to be at that level in our sport is tremendous. Her ability to enjoy the day-to-day and to find purpose in every minute of every day and to find ways to continue to elevate her process and her training,” he explained.

While Callie credits Josh and her teammates, including her older sister Anna, for pushing her to do her best, she understands her routine is different from a normal teen.

“It’s really kind of hard. I have to do a lot of my homework on weekends,” she explained.

As for her friends at Norfolk Academy…

“They kind of think I’m insane and wonder how I do it so much and how I’m able to continue with school work and swimming at the same time,” Callie explained. “They understand. If I’m at school and I’m tired, they know why.”

Callie trains at least 25 hours each week. It’s a true part-time job. She consumes 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day, in coolers packed by her dad, to keep her going.

Her dedication and determination is inspiring. Callie’s parents, Bill and Dayna are very supportive of her goals, but don’t push it.

“She’s only 16. We just want her to do well,” Dayna Dickinson said.

“The one thing I love about Callie is she’s very humble about this whole experience. For her, it’s just another day at the office,” said Bill.

Callie competed in three of her four events on Sunday and Monday. On Friday, July 1, she swims in her fourth preliminary for the Women’s 200m Backstroke. You can watch that race on NBC Sports Network.

Full Coverage: Rio Olympic Games

Callie’s parents and coaches say they just want Callie to gain Olympic experience — so that in 2020, when she’s 20-years-old, she will have an even stronger chance at making Team USA.

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