Although we are not in-season anymore, this summer will be anything but a lazy, beach-going adventure. After all, it is an Olympic year! For those who are not tuned into the professional sports world, this is the end-all-be-all of competitions, as it only comes around once every four years. In addition, the Olympic Games serve as an event in which we can set aside our differences and come together as a nation.
After graduated senior Charlotte Brackett swam at British Olympic Trials in March, we are also lucky to have two of our Spider swimmers in senior Lauren Hines and junior Mali Kobelja competing at Olympic Trials this year, and I know they are hard at work training. The dedication it takes for a collegiate athlete to train intensely throughout the entire year is comparable to NBA players vying for that elusive ring. These athletes are looking for rings, too, only of a different kind.
It is extremely inspiring to see the determination of Olympic-caliber athletes. As a little girl watching the television, I remember being awestruck by the talent showcased at the Games.
When I was a young diver, I was actually fortunate enough to witness Laura Wilkinson's 305c (for those of you who don't understand, the numbers refer to my earlier blog post) on the 10-meter platform, edging out the Chinese and earning her the gold medal at the 2000 Games. Later in my career, I spotted Laura and chatted with her on the pool deck. She is one of the most humble and inspiring individuals I have ever spoken with.
At this same event, I also met the famous Greg Louganis and had a similar feeling of admiration. How could I have been so lucky to have talked with multiple Olympic gold medalists?!? The amount of poise and experience that Olympic athletes exhibit boggles my mind. Most are extremely modest about their accomplishments and are happy to entertain questions while signing a quick autograph.
As luck would have it, while training this winter in Coral Springs, Fla., my divers met Olympic swimming great Dara Torres. After a long practice she gave them advice about being collegiate athletes and working through the cold and muscle aches. She inspired my divers to finish their practice even though it was chilly outside.
I want to encourage you to be inspired. Let the spirit of the Olympics take hold. Go out and be active. No, you may not be in the next Olympic Games, but at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the human body is capable of doing great things. Encourage your kids, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, coaches, teachers and co-workers to get involved.
There are plenty of programs around Richmond that can help cure Olympic swimming and diving fever:
- Swimming Summer Camp (click here for more information)
- Masters Swimming (email assistant coach Travis Stensby for more information)
- Capitol Dive Club (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Summer league swimming and diving
- Getting in the pool and racing
- Jumping off the diving board and making a "little splash"
Olympic athletes can't help but inspire. What child who grows up playing a sport doesn't say to his or her parents, "I'm going to be in the Olympics one day." Every athlete dreams of this! I know for a fact that I made a similar remark to my mom growing up.
I am extremely happy to report that I will be living out my Olympic dream this year by traveling to London to be a spectator at the Games. Look for my upcoming blog posts in August chronicling my time overseas as a proud American!