Evan Reed wants to keep his goals sensible. The 18-year-old product of Delaware County Christian School, who lives in Berwyn, is the only male high school swimmer from the Philadelphia area who has been invited to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, in Omaha, Neb., starting Sunday.

Reed, who is headed to North Carolina on a swimming scholarship, would like to make the U.S. Olympic team. But if he doesn't at least he will find out how he stacks up against the best in the nation.

The 6-1, 160-pound Reed qualified in the 100-meter freestyle with a personal-best time of 50.91 seconds. That's a good enough time to win almost any high school race and be competitive in any college race.

But the U.S. Olympic swimming team could be the deepest and most talented in the world this summer when it arrives in Beijing. Reed enters his qualifying race Tuesday as the 51st seed out of 120 swimmers in the 100 freestyle.

The No. 1 seed is Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, who has a qualifying time of 48.41.

The difference between Phelps' and Reed's times is huge.

"I'd still be a body-length away when Phelps is done and already looking up at the scoreboard at his time," said Reed, who will leave for Omaha tomorrow with his father, Brent, and his personal coach, Glenn Neufeld, the competitive aquatic director at the Upper Main Line YMCA. "That's why I'm going into this with nothing to lose and looking to learn everything I can from the experience.

"Going there to see incredible recordholders compete, and seeing how intense the crowd is, and see someone break a world record is incredible," said Reed, the fourth-fastest 18-and-under in the 100 free trials. "Being a small part of it makes it special, and it is something to look forward to. I'm not coming home disappointed if I don't make the team. This will be my first time ever going to a meet like this. The goal is to take and learn what I experienced from this and use it 4 years from now."

Reed has experienced international competition, as a member of the U.S. Junior National team. He competed in the 2008 Victorian Championships, in Melbourne, Australia, in mid-January, where he achieved his U.S. qualifying time.

Reed wants to experience the pressure of a big meet - and see, and absorb, how Phelps and other Olympic-caliber swimmers handle it.

"You feel the hair on the back on your neck stand up when you're on the blocks and hear a big crowd cheering for you," Reed said. "It's something you never forget, and once you get a taste of it, you'll want more of it. I want to keep my chances realistic and looking to swim a personal-best time, which would be breaking 50 seconds. If I could do that, it would be everything I'd realize. It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it." *

Send e-mail to santolj@phillynews.com.