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NOVA Aquatics celebrates Haas’s Olympic berth

Townley Haas (Source: NBC Olympics)
Townley Haas (Source: NBC Olympics)
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Townley Haas is now officially a two-time Olympian, but from ages 3-18, he spent a great deal of time in the pool at NOVA Aquatics in Henrico County. That facility was alive with excitement on Wednesday after Haas punched his ticket to Tokyo on Tuesday night.

“Seeing that NOVA cap on the side of his head throughout this whole week has just been so great for us as an organization,” said Drew Hirth, manager of operations for the club.

“When they finally put up the scoreboard with the rings next to his name, I was pretty relieved for him, but also I was very excited for him and the NOVA family and everything it means for us here,” added assistant senior coach Megan Garland.

NOVA swimmers of all ages had their eyes glued to televisions on Tuesday night, some pictures of which made their way to the club’s social media accounts. They were watching Haas qualify for his second straight Olympic Games with a second-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle. That excitement carried over into the pool at NOVA on Wednesday, even for those who had to be up before the sun to get their training in.

“Normally at 4:45 in the morning, sometimes they drag a little bit,” noted Garland. “They were a little more awake this morning. They were very excited.”

The accomplishment is obviously big for the Benedictine graduate, but it’s big for NOVA as well. Not only does Haas’s cap put the club on the national stage, but it also gives coaches somebody to who they can point out as an example for their current swimmers.

“Knowing that he’s been through this program, doing everything you’re doing now and seeing him living his dreams, our kids get to see that every single day and it’s awesome,” Garland said.

“Hey, there’s a swimmer on TV that I’m watching in primetime with the same cap that I have on my head,” added Hirth.

Aiming high is something every coach teaches. Now, young swimmers can see what can happen as somebody who was once in their waters goes for gold.

“As coaches, we’re big on setting goals and what you need to do to reach those goals,” Hirth pointed out. “No goal is too big.”

Haas will compete in the 200-meter freestyle and the 4 x 200-meter relay in Tokyo. He took part in the 100-meter freestyle preliminary heats on Wednesday but did not advance.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 23 and NBC12 is your home for the games throughout the duration of the events.

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