Monday, September 29, 2008

Bolles 2008- Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or

Bolles 2008

My last year at Bolles was very special. It was the year of the Olympic Games and my senior year, two good reasons to get motivated.
Before coming back to Bolles from my summer holiday in Israel I heard that we were going to have a new coach, a former Olympic medal holder, Sergio Lopez. For me to change three coaches in two and a half years at Bolles was a very bad experience, so my return to school in summer of ‘07 was like going into the unknown .

Today when I think back on this year I am so happy that I swam for Sergio, and came back to Bolles.

– Sergio Lopez.

Sergio is probably the person that had the biggest impact on my swimming and developing me to become an adult athlete. Sergio was the first one to tell me and to teach me HOW to THINK HIGH, no one can understand what two short words such as "think high " can do to an athlete, Sergio knew. He also knew how a top level swimmer should think and act. In the way of pushing us in practices, I think I could train harder, I also felt that he will always be there for me, even cheering me on during the main set, making sure I did good in school, helped us the seniors to get into the college program that best fit us, and even kicked us out of practice if we didn’t do exactly what he asked us to do. And guy’s he was right in those times because if you want to swim fast you need to come to practice and give more then the coach asks you to give, you need to come and give not 100, but 110% !
The day before jumping to my 200m free in Beijing I heard Sergio in my mind saying – think high, think high, you can do it, just believe in yourself.
Being an Olympic athlete, Sergio was keen to pass his Olympic experience to others. I was keen to learn more and more about the Olympic experience. Now after the Games I can say that without the mental preparation that I got from Sergio I do not think I would have gotten to the semi-finals and improved my times with almost two seconds. This was a result of the hard work during the year and the investment Sergio put in.
Today I am with a new coach, new coach assistants, and new environment at the U of A, but I know that Bolles with Sergio is my second home, where I can always find an open door and an open heart. I want to thank you Sergio for my best year that I have ever had in swimming, I want to thank all of your staff - you are all great!!!!!
I have here a message to the young swimmers at Bolles, to learn from an experienced adult is very important, but for us, as swimmers, is twice as important to learn from an Olympic medal holder as Sergio. Believe me one day you will need it, one day at the most important time competing, two simple words like “think high" will do all the difference between you and the others.
About the Olympic Games all I can tell you guys that it’s an amazing experience. I call it “heaven of sport”, you get everything you need, everyone take care of you, everything is for free, BUT, you also have this instant pressure to deliver results, and if you take this pressure in the positive way and bring those results you did your job and everyone is happy. I think that every athlete that went to the Olympic Games should be proud to be part of that amazing tradition. And we the swimmers should be extra proud because of the “jump” in the results and the fact that we have in our sport the best athlete in all the world, Michael Phelps, that even my grandmother know who he is.

One coach from Israel told me that one day I will say that I
swam with Phelps in the 2008 Olympic Games, when he made history with his 8 gold medals and I answered him saying, “One day I will break his record in the 200 free”. There is nothing wrong with thinking high, and believe in yourself!
Good luck to all of you this year!! Train hard, do what Sergio tells you to do, set high goals for yourself, and believe in those dreams, even if it takes a long time to reach them.


Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or

Sunday, August 17, 2008

THANK YOU ALL - It has been amazing!

Hello from Beijing!

What a great place to be, The Games have been amazing, the people been unbelievable and most important this is an experience that I will never forget in my life.

Watching our Bolles swimmers perform the way they did at the FASTEST meet in the history of swimming has been very special and all of you back home should be proud of our team. Our Tradition is an amazing one but our Future is even more amazing. Being here and watching our swimmers swim with the determination, passion and without fear has been very inspirational. I know that there is no way I can pull a Dara Torres and come back and swim at my old level, I can’t probably make it 25 yards without having my heart rate at 320, but being here has really giving me an incredible burst of energy and desire to keep learning and coaching better every day. I hope you all feel the same way after watching such amazing races.

Personally it has been amazing to be here and be able to watch such fast meet, watch people warm up and get ready for the races, see some of my old teammates that now are coaches or some of my old coaches that still coach. Also I have seen 4 of my old swimmers that I had the privilege of coaching in college, one of them got a silver and two golds, amazing! Once in a lifetime experience.

If I don’t forget anyone I believe that we had 17 Bolles current swimmers, alumni or coaches participating at the 2008 Olympic Games. I can assure you that there are not many (if any) teams in the world with such a TRADITION and with such success at this level. It gives me Goosebumps just to think that I have the privilege of being involved in such an amazing organization which keeps producing greatness in our sport.

Here is a summary of what our current Bolles swimmers have done at the 29th Olympiad:

Our 2007-08 Bolles Swimmers have broken a total of 6 National records out of 8 events that they participated between the six of them:

Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or (Israel): Nimrod will be a freshman this new 2008-09 season at the University of Arizona. He swam an amazing 1:47.78 in the 200 Free that qualified him 15th for the semi-finals and then he swam a little slower 1:48.1 but still managed to place 15th. Also in the 100 Free he swam a 49.10 that is a personal best by over a full second. Nimrod broke both Senior National records at the Games.

Danielle Beaubrun (St. Lucia): Danielle swam an amazing race in the 100 Breaststroke with a new Senior National Record in 1:12.85 seconds. She had a huge 2.3 seconds improvement over her personal best. Danielle will be returning to Bolles for her Senior year. Danielle has had a hard time performing in the last big meets at a high level and to watch her swim the way she swam at the Olympics was something that I will never forget. I was so happy for her that she made me cry ;-).

Anna Vanderpool-Wallace (Bahamas): Anna had two great swim with two National records. She swam an impressive 55.61 in the 100 free, but I know she could had gone at least 0.5 seconds faster since she did not take a breath the first 30 meters and she paid it off at the end of the race. Her 50 Free was amazing, she swam a 25.40 and qualified 24th and after watching the way she swam the 50 I knew for sure that I was right about the 100. She looked amazing! Anna will be starting her freshman year at Auburn next week. Another thing that I want you to take note is that Anna right before the 50 Free race lost her goggles. She was going crazy and I could not believe that she did not have an extra pair in her bag. This is the Olympics (I was thinking) and I was trying not to get upset and at the same time I went around the pool deck trying to find a pair of goggles. We are talking 10 minutes before the 50 Free starts. Finally we got a pair from a swimmer from Romania and another pair from a swimmer from Singapore (I believe). Well things worked out for her and she swam well. Remember what I always tell you, when you are packing for a meet make sure that you pack extra of everything (suit, goggles, etc…) you never know what will happen.

Rodion Davelaar (Netherlands Antilles): Rodion did not swim a best time and I felt very bad for him. Everything that he did in practice showed us that he was ready to swim very fast. He had amazing start and his first 35 meters were great. He was going to go 23.4-5 but then he started to spin and he was not catching water which slowed him down a bunch. He swam a 24.21 which was 0.11 off his best time. Rodion will be a freshman at the University of Florida which will start today with freshman orientation. Rodion left yesterday from Beijing.

Ryan Arabejo (Philippines): Ryan did not have a very good 1500 Free. I could not believe what happened to him. It was the same day that Anna’s incident with her goggles but this was 10 minutes before we had Anna’s situation. Ryan suit just ripped and sure enough he did not have any other suit. I could not believe that he did not bring one or two suits as back ups. But the only thing I could do at that time was to find another suit. After talking with many countries we were out of luck. He uses a size 22 and it was too small to find a size for him at that time. Finally after trying a couple of full bodies he decided to swim with a size 24. I don’t want to give any excuses but I have no doubts that he was out mentally. Coach Jon has done an amazing job with Ryan’s training and Ryan was swimming unbelievable during training camp and during the days before the race here in Beijing. With all that he only swam two seconds off his best time which in such a long race it is nothing. Ryan is returning to Bolles for his Senior year.

Daniel Coakley (Philippines): Daniel swam the 50 Free and did a very good job. He swam a personal best with a time of 22.69. He also had amazing start and first 30 meters and then he started spinning a little. Another National record and very good swim for the first time at a meet like this. Daniel will be a freshman at Indian River Community College this next season.

As you can see we had great success with our Bolles swimmers at this games and most important is that they gained a huge experience that if they keep working and competing this way they will be very competitive at the next Olympic Games.

Here is a list of the Bolles alumni that swam at the Olympics:
George Bovell (Trinidad Tobago)
Nicholas Bovell (Trinidad Tobago)
Shaune Frazer (Cayman Islands)
Omar Pinzon (Colombia)
Anja Carmen (Slovakia)
Yi Ting Siow (Malasia)

Here is the list of the Coaches that have coached at Bolles or that were swimmers at Bolles and now are coaches:
Gregg Troy (U.S.A.)
Anthony Nesty (Suriname)

As you can see we had 17 swimmers and coaches that have ties at Bolles that have participated in the 29th Olympiad and you need to BE PROUD to be part of such a great TRADITION. Now let’s make sure that we keep it going. Let’s make sure that now we start thinking about the 2012 Olympic Games in London and that make our TRADITION even stronger.

All this would not happen without the hard work of all the swimmers, coaches, parents, teachers, and everyone involved in The Bolles School and The Bolles Sharks Swim Team. From Beijing I want to THANK YOU all for making this a reality. You should be proud of being part of the Bolles Family and I hope this Games have given you some inspiration to excel at the highest level in the pool and in the classroom.

I am about the get into the plane to get back home and take few days off with my wife and kids. I really miss them and I can’t wait to just play with them and relax for few days. I know that the season will start today for the club and I am sorry that I won’t be there.

Again, THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK this past season and let’s have an even better 2008-09 season.




Aug 17, 2008

Hello all

What a day Aug 17, 2008 turned out to be!! Michael Phelps finished his Beijing Olympics assault with 8 Gold Medals and 7 WR's. To actually witness this historic feat with my own 2 eyes is amazing. Who would have thought another swimmer could actually top 7 Gold Medals and 7 WR's? Without a doubt in my mind this was the greatest sporting achievement of all time. Phelps not only destroyed the field, he added suspense with 2 of his swims. (400 free relay and 100 fly)

These Games made me believe in why I enjoy my job and the sport of swimming so much. Just watching all these athletes compete makes me want to compete once again. TBD? It makes me think about can I still do it? Ohhh...Dara you inspire so many people to think twice about retiring!! (She got the Silver in the 50 free by .01 (24.07))

To all the young swimmers out there, please BELIEVE you may one day be an Olympian. These Olympics should inspire you to work hard each day and BELIEVE IN THAT EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. This experience has inspired myself to be the best coach I can be. It has been a great Honor to Coach for my Country. I have learned to much by being surrounded by the best. Being the youngest swim coach by far at these Games is something I take great pride in because my country and Sergio BELIEVED I should be there amongst the greats.

Well it is time to leave these Olympic Games and get back to a new season. I hope we will be ready to rock and roll come Monday Aug 18!!!!

PS: Another Reason why AUG 17 is so great is because its my Birthday. WOW, I was born the day won his 8th and final medal at the BEIJING 2008 Olympic Games.

I love you Tracey!!
I am coming home....


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

At 4:10 a.m., Anything Can Happen

Trap a bunch of sports enthusiasts in a room for 12 hours, starting at 5 p.m., and by the time 5 a.m. rolls around all you have is a veritable circus.

That's something I've discovered during these past five or six nights on this shift. It's not like working the graveyard shift at the TV station, which I did once upon a time. Sure, I've had my phone calls from Nightly News and MSNBC about this fact or that, but eventually the calls die down. I create spreadsheets, hit the free Starbucks in the commissary (which I've now been told I pronounce wrong because I put the accent on the SECOND syllable), and visit my best friend and Bolles alumn Casey Barrett, who writes for the Primetime show with Bob Costas, the one all of you watch at night when you see finals.

Anyhow, this is a short post and an invitation to check out this link. It's the "Beijing Welcomes You" song, which the whole room sang together, in Chinese, about 10 minutes ago. And yes, for 12 hours, these are the people that NBC counts on to provide the entire web of networks with the most accurate information for reporting on these Olympic Games.

The link:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Greetings From The NBC Research Room

If I didn't get up and look out my hotel room window I might never know I was in Beijing. But then there's the view…

Outside my window looms the Bird's Nest, that iconic tangle of intertwining beams that make up the shell of the main Olympic stadium. At its peak burns the Olympic torch. Down the road is the Water Cube, truly the temple of swimming. In the evenings the three thousand separate "bubbles" alternate colors, bleeding from pacific blue into seafoam green and then deep purple. Standing in my thirteenth floor room the thought sometimes occurs to me that perhaps alien ships have landed, because these structures are so "other." Or maybe it's more that these buildings give the sense of being alive. It is difficult to explain. I have to make sure to take in the view because I know there may never be another time in my life when I have a view like this.

Maybe that's why I write about it first. Let's lighten things and maybe talk about my Olympic experience, because it's different than the living history our swimmers and coaches are living inside the "Temple." My experience is one of observation, commentary, and context. That's my job. Sitting in a room with some dozen people or so, I don a pair of headsets and bring the swimming up on my computer screen. It's fun because even though I'm not on the scene I'm still behind the scenes. I listen to what the commentators say between the races. I watch them do several takes of any given story before the final cut is taped. During the racing I catch phrases and facts I've researched and supplied. But it is when the racing is over that my job really begins.

My Olympics is about being NBC's swimming expert for 12 hours a day. When the prelims end the phone starts to ring. Nightly News, the Today Show, MSNBC, you name it, they call, asking anything from "What time does Michael Phelps swim tomorrow" to "How many of the world records broken at these Olympics were broken by athletes not wearing the LZR?" This room is like one great game of Trivial Pursuit: The Olympic Edition. Sometimes the big-wigs at NBC call to ask my opinion of something. And that's when I really need to be good because depending on my answer, NBC may make changes to it's live Primetime coverage of the Games. Scary when you think about it.

After a few hours the questions end, typically by about 10:30. I grab a bite to eat in the commissary (a word which my wife told me I pronounce wrong because I place the accent on the first syllable! Oh I love being married!), a place where I've seen everyone from Tom Brokaw to Cullen Jones. The other morning there was a table packed with Secret Service agents prepping for President Bush's arrival. No, I didn't stick around. I needed sleep. At 5 a.m. or so, your body tells your mind what to do, not the other way around.

But beyond all the swimming and the Phelpsian hype, China, like the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, is something other. Not that my experience is emblematic of a typical vacation to Beijing. For one thing, we've had several days of blue skies, something I've been assured is a bit of phenomenon. And everywhere I go someone is there to help me, literally.

In the bathroom at my hotel's lobby there's a man who stands between the sinks waiting to put his hand in front of the faucet's electronic sensor, so you don't have to worry about making the water run yourself. Not like there's even a knob there to deal with. But that's what he does. People man the garbage cans making sure you put the recycling in the right bin. Put it in the wrong one and they fish it out. I found that out my first time throwing something out. That doesn't quite capture it, though.

One day I did have a few hours to myself and hopped on the subway. Other than a Canadian journalist I met, I was the only non-Chinese person in sight. I ventured to "The Pearl Market" where, despite the best intentions, I think I successfully haggled myself into buying some very nice looking fake pearls for my wife. It wasn't until I did some research, post purchase, that I learned I'd probably been duped. Though I'll let her do the teeth test to figure it out on her own.

During my venture I made my way to Tiananmen Square, which sits across the street from the Forbidden City. The Square was closed down and it was too late to get into the Forbidden City, so I just wandered the streets feeling abnormally tall. Two things I noticed: A lot of people smoke cigarettes here, but there's not one cigarette butt on the sidewalk; and babies don't wear diapers but instead have pajamas with a big crack in the bottom…I'll let you figure that out. It's different. But it's the same.

There is a little more than an hour left in my shift and work to be done. But I wanted to write something, even though I know this is long. If I don't get to provide another post then I'll see you stateside.

Be ready to swim!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

3:08.24!!!! USA USA USA

Hello all

"What a Great Day to be a Bolles Alum Where ever you Maybe!" I could not be more proud of these swimmers! They proved to the world that they belong in the Olympic Games. Nimrod making the semifinals was pure amazing. Dani dropping 2 sec was wowwowweiiii. All the other Bolles alum swam super. (Omar, Shaun, Anja, Ying Ting) WE CAN DO IT!!!

Watching the 400 Free Relay had to be the greatest race of all time!!! The fact that Jason Lezak reeled in the former 100 free WR holder was ssshockking. To feel the electricity of the pool brought goosebumps to my arms. With Sergio, Ryan, Rodion, Mike A., and Coach Pinky all sitting beside me thinking did this just happen!!!!! The top 5 teams broke the WR!!! With the Americans breaking it by 3.99 sec!! (That just blows my mind)

Each Session brings its own flair to swimming that it makes going to each session worth the price ticket people had to pay. The session today made the trip to Beijing well worth it.

On a side note, The president of the Philippines visited the pool yesterday to watch us practice. This marks the first time a Philippine president sets foot at a swimming competition. It was a great honor to talk swimming with her.

I love u Tracey

Till again...NO PAIN

First Day - 2 National Records for our Bolles swimmers

Hello All,

What a day for our Bolles swimmers. They swam like they have been here before and they did an excellent job.

First we had Nimrod swimming the 200 Free in the Prelims. He was going to have to swim the swim of his life to be able to get into the semifinals and that is exactly what he did. He swam an amazing 1:47.78 breaking his own Israeli National record by a full second and most important qualifying 15th and becoming a semifinalist at his first Olympic Games. He did an amazing race going out in control and behind everyone, his strategy was very good and right before the 100 he gradually increased his speed to have a very good third 50 which got him right in the top three at the 150 mark. His last 50 was amazing and he won his heat. In the same heat we had a Bolles alumnus, Shawn Fraser from the Cayman Islands, swimming with Nimrod. Shawn is a sophomore at the University of Florida and he also improved his best time even though he was not able to past to the semifinals. Here are Nimrod’s splits: 26.06 / 53.45 (27.39) / 1:20.78 (27.39) / 1:47.78 (27.00).

Also today we had Danielle Beaubrun swimming the Prelims of the 100 Breaststroke. Dani had an amazing swim dropping 2.29 seconds and breaking her own National Record. Dani swims for St. Lucia and she had few of her countrymen at the pool cheering for her. I was very happy for her since for Dani to come to the Olympics and on her first (and only) event to swim the way she swam is a great accomplishment. I have been telling her all along this season that if she keeps working the way she does that it will pay off in the future and sure enough today was the beginning of her future. Here are Dani’s splits: 34.50 / 1:12.85 (38.35).

Today it felt very good to be here on deck right next to our Bolles swimmers and watching their faces full of pride and satisfaction after competing in their first Olympics and having such great performances. To all of you back home I just want to tell you that if you keep working hard good things will happen to you like today for Nimrod and Dani.


Well have a beautiful day and I will write some more soon.

Miss you all.