LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When it comes to Matthew Sims, delivering an “Olympic-level performance” in the pool is no longer just an expression, it’s an ambition.

The Bellarmine University rising senior achieved the honor of competing in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for swimming after qualifying in the 200 butterfly. A two-time Division II All-American and three-time conference champion in the event, Sims is set for action Friday at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

Competition will be broken up into two “waves.” Sims will be competing in the first wave, which consists of a prelim and final. From there, the top two finishers from the first wave qualify to compete in the second wave, which is comprised of a prelim, semifinal and final. The top two swimmers from every event at the Trials qualify for the Olympic Team.

Sims will be afforded the opportunity to get a few workouts in on-site before competing Friday and is eagerly anticipating the chance to perform at the Trials.

“I am personally super excited,” said Sims, who in October was voted Bellarmine Men’s Swimmer of the Decade. “It has always been one of my dreams to be here and compete against some of the best competition the country has to offer.”

Sims didn’t take a break from training following a junior campaign that saw him three-peat as a conference champion in the 200 butterfly. The native of Fort Wright, Kentucky, captured his first two titles in the GLVC at the DII level and this season added another gold in the event at the CCSA Championship after the program transitioned to D1.

“I have not had any downtime since the college season ended,” said Sims, who earned DII All-America accolades as a freshman and sophomore. “Once conference was over, (Bellarmine Coach) John (Brucato) and I really just switched focus over to the Olympic Trials, while picking up the intensity in training. John and I have been keeping the practices quite hard, in my opinion, over the last couple months to make sure I’m in the best shape I can be for the meet.”

Sims said winning the gold in the 200 butterfly at the CCSA Championship was “a big shock for me.” His training last season was a maddening series of stops and starts due to the pandemic. He only trained a handful of times leading into the CCSA meet following an almost three-week layoff, and yet there he was, standing on the top perch of the medal stand when all was said and done.

“I just went into the meet telling myself that if anyone could go out there and win, it was me, and it paid off,” Sims said.

As far as the Olympic Trials, Sims just wants to soak in the experience and let the chips fall where they may.

“I would not say I have a time expectation for myself,” he said. “I want to get out there, race well, make it back to finals, and just have fun with it. I only get to compete in this meet once, so I just want to make sure it’s as memorable as it can be.”

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