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Former Edison High swimmer Tom Shields makes his second Olympics

Tom Shields is headed to his second straight Olympic Games.
(Martin Meissner / Associated Press)

Tom Shields is heading back to the Olympic Games.

The former Edison High School and Cal swimmer qualified for his second straight Olympic team with a strong performance Saturday at the U.S. Trials in Omaha, Neb.

For the record:

2:47 p.m. June 25, 2021An earlier version of this story incorrectly showed a picture of Michael Phelps, not Tom Shields.

Shields finished second in the 100-meter butterfly final, touching in 51.19 seconds. He will race the event at the Tokyo Olympics this summer and also will swim on the 400 medley relay.

Shields finished second in the butterfly Saturday to world-record holder Caeleb Dressel, who won in 49.87. Shields’ time approached his personal-best of 51.03, which he swam at the 2015 FINA World Championships.

Shields, 29, told reporters after the race that racing at the Olympic Trials is a difficult experience.

“Trials is hard, man,” he said. “We train so much for mind, not result. But it’s really hard here. It’s not like Pac-12s or NCAAs. Trials meets are very traumatizing. And people talk about the mental health side of this, and I’ve started to talk about it a little more, and going through this last Trials, it’s like man, maybe it’s the Games experience, because there’s that Olympic hangover, people fall on hard times. I know I did myself.

“But I don’t think it’s exclusive to the people that make the team. It’s the Trials experience and this whole value system. It’s hard to manage. I was thinking about that a lot this week. I tried my hardest today, just go have my swim, focus on what I need to focus on, but it’s really hard. And this is my fourth time doing it.”

Shields shared his challenges with mental health on social media in late 2019, including that he tried to hang himself in 2018. But he has come back stronger and will try to win more gold medals in Tokyo.

Shields won gold at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as a member of the 400 medley relay. He swam the butterfly in the heats to help the U.S. qualify in second place.

Shields graduated from Edison in 2009, and was a four-time CIF Southern Section champion in the boys’ 200 freestyle and two-time champion in the 100 butterfly. As a senior he swam a then-national high school record time of 1:33.83 in the 200 free.

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