Monday, September 29, 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.
GO BOLLES!!-SWIM FAST
Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or
Sunday, August 17, 2008
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.
BE PROUD OF BEING AT BOLLES!
NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!
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
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjwc-lDgkok
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
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
"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
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.
BELIEVE! NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!
Well have a beautiful day and I will write some more soon.
Miss you all.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
So first of all i want to express how amazing these games are, but at the same time when we got to the pool last night and watched the prelims i was slightly disappointed with the fact that it just seems like a regular swim meet when you watch it from the stands. However this morning was CRAZY, watching the finals of the 400 IM , the 400 free and the 4 x 100 relay i started to get that feeling that WOW i am actually here. Tonight we have the first bolles people swimming, Dani, Shaune and nimrod and we also have the first bahamaian swimming so its going to an exciting night. I really think that this meet is a great experiance because i think that before this it was impossible for anyone to comprehend how goes into the olympic games. They have people here that just stand around just in case you need help, i dropped my bag by accident and four people ran to help me pick it up. I think that its just crazy to be here. The opening ceremonies was quite an experiance, to be part of something so huge and something that everyone watches around the world was just amazing.
Everynight when i go to bed i just thank everyone that got me as far as i got in the past four years, All the coaches as Bolles as well as the coaches in the Bahamas, the bolles families that took me in and treated me as if i was one of their children, every bolles swimmers who whether they know it or not, pushed me everyday in practice mentally and physically, the bolles dorms moms and all my friends. SO i just wanted to take this oppourtunity to say thank you to everyone for you help along the way :) and i hope i will make bolles proud when its my turn to swim. !!!
This has nothing to do with Jowan (this was the second we walked into the stadium)
Friday, August 8, 2008
This whole experience is an amazing one. First I just want to let you know that I feel privilege to be here with our Bolles swimmers and in between so many amazing athletes. Also the Chinese people have done an amazing job organizing and making sure that everything goes smooth and that the athletes have the best situation possible to perform at the highest level.
For our Bolles expedition it has been an amazing journey. The Pre-Olympic Training Camp in the Philippines where we were treated very well was our first step. Ryan Arabejo’s mother and ant went out of their way every single day to make sure that we had first class treatment and that we enjoyed our stay in their country. I am amazed of how nice and everyone was to us while in Manila and while at the Trace College (training camp). From here I want to THANK Ryan’s family and especially his mother for everything they did for us. It was incredible experience and I sure hope that one day we can re-pay her when she comes to visit us in Jacksonville. The training went very well and I am very confident that it was the right choice for us and that now our swimmers are ready to do their best and really have a once in a life time experience here at the Games.
The Olympic Village and the swimming pool are top notch and it is an amazing sensation to see so many people from so many countries with the same passion everyday walking around, changing pins, taking pictures and getting ready for this moment in time that it is about to come for each one of these athletes.
Yesterday I had the chance to go with the Netherlands Antilles Delegation to the Flag Ceremony. It was a very nice ceremony and I was much honored to be there with Rodion and his country. It really made me feel special. There were 4 other countries at the ceremony and Israel was one of them. It was nice to see Nimrod and to see his smile knowing that finally he was going to become an Olympian. A lot of hard times these past few months for him but finally he is here and he has a chance to compete with the best in the world.
In few hours we will be departing the Olympic Village to go to the Opening Ceremony. Personally I am very excited to be part of such a big and important event. As an athlete I did not go to the Opening Ceremony in my hometown in Barcelona at the 92 Games and I am ready to enjoy and absorb as much as I can of this wonderful experience. I know that once I walk into the stadium I will get Goosebumps all over my body and who knows I may even cry ;-) I can’t wait to be next to Rodion and walk into what it is going to be the best Olympics Games ever. We will take a lot of pictures and we will make sure that we post them online for all of you to enjoy.
I will write again about the experience of the Opening Ceremony and I hope all of you are having a good break.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
With only 6 hrs until the opening ceremonies I am sitting here in the Internet cafe thinking, "My Dream is About too Come True." Who would have thought 2 years ago I would be on the verge of being at the Bird's Net at the Opening Ceremony representing my homeland? (On a side note Daniel is playing Video Games next too me!!)
These past couple of days have been very eventful. We were eating yesterday (of course free McDonald's) and the entire DREAM TEAM walked in. I got too meet Lebron, Jason Kidd, Melo and Kobe. One hour later, I see Ana Ivanovic and Nadal just walking around the village!!!!!
The pool itself is so amazing because everytime I walk in I can get free cookies!! haha jk It is a great honor to see the best of the best day in day out. You can't help, but be amazed to see your idols and great technique while they are swimming. One day we will try to take a pic of all the Bolles alum!!! (Nimrod, Brothaman, Anna, Dani, Daniel, Ryan, Gustavo, Yi Ting, Shaun, George, Omar etc)
Well swimming starts tomorrow!!!! Go Bolles!!!
PS: Ryan your it!!!! Ur the BEAN!!!
I love u Tracey
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
We went to see the President two days ago!!! It was great honor to me her. I wish we could have taken photos however for SECURITY reasons we were not allowed too. The palace was really beautiful.
Yesterday, we had a photo shoot with Arena (sorry TYR) for the Manila store and newspaper. It was so funny because all the guys had makeup on. Ryan looked the best because they put so much on he looked like a Geisha Girl. We laughed so hard!!!!!!!!!!! Ill try to get a pic up.
The swimmers are swimming pretty well. I am happy the way they are swimming. They are having fun and smiling everyday.
It was sad yesterday because the UF guys all left for Beijing.....
I love u Tracey
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Sitting here in my living room, I'm wishing I could catch one of these butterflies and put it under a microscope, examine it, poke and prod, and come up with an answer. But answers of this kind are too mysterious for reason, too ambiguous for science. Few places other than a well polished mirror house those answers.
I'm doing laundry while watching movies. I'm revising season plans for the fall. Sometimes I wander onto the internet in search of the latest swimming news. In my position I'm required to be armed with knowledge and I'm doing my best to load up.
My living room is now my ready room. Some 48 hours from now I'll be hopscotching across datelines during the 13 hours plane ride from Chicago to Beijing. I'll be wondering if I've remembered to pack everything they say I'm going to need. Occassionally I'll worry that I left something undone around the house and will be powerless to take care of it from China. More often than not I'll wonder what my fiance/wife is doing, whether she's okay, and thanking her for saying okay to this trip. And I'll think about our swimmers, who will be doing whatever swimmers do during those rare lapses in training. I'll be confident they are having fun and hopeful they are staying fit. And I'll be anxious, on the verge of jittery, to have them back in the water.
Sitting here in my ready room with my own swarm of butterflies I wonder about the road ahead, ponduring my own race. Because no matter whether you're about to dive into water, a new book, a new class, a new friendship...No matter which turn you're about to take in life we all need a ready room of sorts. It's the place you go to get it all together, to map out your goals, and to set off on your path.
Where is your ready room? When is your race?
(Don't worry. My musings from Beijing will surely be less philosophical in nature!)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I am not sure where to start so Im just going to from thr very beginning and please do not mind my spelling, well all know my spelling is horrible ;)
The flight was long! VERY LONG. I remember I was sitting next to Rodion (not Sergio because I would never be able to sleep) and I asked him how long again do we have because I felt like we were literally on that plane for 24 hrs, and he goes, he still have 8 more and we have only been flying for about 6-7! I thought we would never make it but we did and in one piece. We also got some special treatment from Ryans family which was wonderful! they greated us with scarfs and a big banner! It is funny because Ryan, Coach Jason and daniel didnt get such nice treatment like we did. Just shows how special we are!
We stayed one night in a hotel in Manila and then we woke up for morning training. I wasnt feeling all that well and got really sick later on during the day but Im not going to go in detail. We then drove to Lagune which is where we are staying right now and people drive crazy here!!!! GEEZ!! But the whole experience is amazing and I have only been here for 2 days. And I have to give it to Ryan, Filipino food is really good!
Me, Jason, Miguel, Ryan and Daniel were playing cards and I showed them who was boss so I think i needed to throw that in there! But I lost the second round but still.
The facility here is beyond what I thought! It truly is wonderful. Oh, and today there were the massage therapists that came in and we all got massages after training and proper stretching which helped a lot....and they are going to be there everyday so you can only guess where I would be!
We went to the malls yesterday and attracted enough attention because I guess they never seen a black girl and boy and a big white man before and also the fact that we were all over 5'7'' and everyone is under 5'...well not that short be close enough. i felt so giant
Thats all for now
Firstly, the flight was MISERABLE, we took off from Atlanta, and flew over canada, over the north pole, down through Russia and then into south korea, (which took about 15 hours) where we stayed for about 30 minutes before hopping onto another plane which brought us to Singapore.
Besides the flight, everything else is great, our hotel is amazing, but still kinda confuses us. Everything in the rooms work via remote or a button, so to open and close the curtains you use the remote, and to change the ac you use the remote, so it kinda convenient, but at times i turn off all the lights in the room instead of just my light by mistake, and leave my roommate in the darkness while taking a shower. The food is amazing and we can basically eat as much as we want to. :)
At the pool they have four lanes for us to use only, and people constantly stare at us (probably cause i'm black) and try to get in our lanes, but as the time passes i feel more and more like an Olympian, because we get so much special attention and everything is basically done for us so it amazing.
I am having so much fun here and tonight we are going to a friendly soccer match between the Brazilian Olympic team and the Singapore Olympic team. It should be exciting.
I miss everyone back at bolles and i hope you all are enjoying your time off, and i miss all my teammates and coach sergio and coach jason, and i can't wait until we are reunited at the olympics!!!!!!
PS: One thing, if you ever call someone short again that probably might be a lie. I feel like a giant here. We were walking through the mall and could see over everybodies head, its amazing!!!!
Rodion status "Missing everbody at Bolles"
Saturday, July 26, 2008
We finally made it to the Philippines Saturday morning. It was one long trip I must say. When Coach Sergio arrived at the airport he was greeted with traditional customs and with a huge banner saying WELCOME COACH SERGIO LOPEZ and company(10 ft long). What a lucky guy!!!!
After eating breakfast at Jollibee (filipino fast food) we went to Ryan's old club teams pool to train. The Makati Skipjacks treated us so well. They had banners welcoming each swimmer and coach. I felt like a celebrity because all these swimmers and parents wanted our pictures.
After training we had lunch at the Manila Polo club, which was excellant. We sat and chatted for a couple hours drinking buko juice (coconut juice from the shell). At 3pm, we finally headed towards Los Banos where we will be stationed for a week and a half. The pool at Trace College is beautiful. It has two pools and a diving well. This pool was built for the 2005 South East Asian Games.
Our hotel is 30 sec from the pool. It is a very nice hotel with HOT water!! Thank God!! For dinner we had chicken, RICE, corn soup and salad. It was Yummy!!!
Well I better head out, but before I go I just wanted to thank The Philippines for Selecting me as a Coach for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing becuase this has been a life long dream of mine. I also would like to thank Coach Sergio for believiing in me that I could become a coach at this level.
PS: I love you and miss you Tracey
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It is a very good accomplishment for our team to have 5 swimmers competing at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and I will make sure to write as much as I can so I can share with you such a great experience.
Good luck to all of you heading to Senior Champs, Rivercity and Junior Nationals and thanks for such a great season that we all had.
Monday, July 7, 2008
First of all I want to say that I am very proud of how Aubrey and Chris did at this Trials. We had not so good times and best times but most important is that I really have the feeling that both of them are leaving this place with a good mind frame and a good understanding of what they did.
Aubrey’s last swim was her 50 Free Time Trial where she swam a personal best and a very impressive 26.77. Her finish was very good and she got better as the meet went on. I really believe that now she is a lot better prepare for her next meet at this level.
Chris had his two swims the same day. He won his 50 Free heat with a personal best of 22.83. Chris and I believe that he could had swum faster but most important is that he came out of retirement and his best time was 23.27 from the 2006 summer. After this race he had the 100 Fly. It was a memorable race for him since he got to be in one of the circle seeded heats and got to swim his last race of his life with Michael Phelps and a couple of other world class flyers. He told me after the race that his heart was pounding and that it was an amazing feeling. As he dove his goggles came out and stayed in his face. He did not swim a best time but he did an amazing job considering that his goggles were all the time right above his nose and he had a hard time seeing the wall and where he was during the race. Two years ago his best time was 56.6 in the 100 fly and now he can retire with an amazing 54.16.
This whole week has been an amazing experience. USA Swimming and the city of Omaha have done an incredible job making sure that this was the best meet in the history of swimming. I really hope that the 2012 US Olympic Trials come back to Omaha.
It has been very interesting watching swimmers break the world record or American record in the prelims or semis and then not making the team. This is a heart breaker competition and probably the toughest meet n the world.
Well, I will write you tomorrow about my thoughts. Thanks for all your support and keep up the good work.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
After prelims this morning Aubrey and I were coming out of the Quest center when I saw Matt Grevers. I recruited Matt to attend Northwestern and I had the privilege to coach him during the 2003-04 season. After Aubrey, Matt and I had a little conversation and we were walking back to our car I told Aubrey Matt’s story.
Matt at the 2004 US Olympic Trials placed 7th in the finals of the 100 back, he did not swim very well but the main reason was because he was very nervous and he lost control of his race. He trained very well and I really thought that he had a chance to surprise everyone and get second. During the race in 2004 Matt lost control of what he was doing and for few strokes he swam with one shoulder under the lane line and at the end he placed a couple of times the shoulder above the lane line. When he came out of the water after the race he had huge marks in the front and back of his body. It was a very hard meet for both of us. I was more upset for him than anything else because to me it was a privilege to be able to be there as his coach. But today 4 years later he came out with great confidence and he defeated Ryan Lochte and Randall Ball in the last 10 meters of probably the fastest 100 back ever in the history of swimming. He never lost control of the race and he reached his dream of becoming an Olympian.
I just wanted to share this with all of you because I believe this is another example of how most of these great athletes had many bad races during their careers and I really believe that what defines them as great athletes is the strength, stamina and will power of standing up and NEVER GIVING UP ON THEIR DREAMS when things go wrong.
I had many conversations during these past 4 years with Matt about keeping his head up and believing that he could make it. Today his swim brought tears to my eyes.
Remember we can not always swim our best, the only thing we can do is work at a 100% every day, be honest with ourselves and enjoy that moment in time. I can assure you that even if things go wrong one day you will understand your swimming career and you will be OK.
Well I hope all this makes sense. Aubrey will be swimming the 100 back Time Trial tomorrow afternoon. I will keep you posted.
So, yesterday did not necessarily go as planned, but that is ok. I swam as hard as I could at the moment but that was not enough. I am a big believer in "Things Happen For a Reason" and I think that the whole event taught me a lot, not only about myself but about life and racing. There are no words to describe the feelings and thoughts that were running through my head as I walked up the stairs onto the pool deck. I could feel my heart beat with each step. Having said that I learned that nerves can be a good and helpful thing but if you let them get the best of you then you forget about the important things. I also learned that this is MY race, no one else's. The girls standing next to me, the crowd, the officials, they all don't matter when it comes down to it. I think I forgot about that and let the nerves of swimming in the "meet of a lifetime" get to me. But like coach said I am glad to have this experience early on when I still have time to improve, I am young and I look forward to many more meets like this one. When Katie Hoff swam her 400 IM a couple years back she let the nerves get the best of her, and look at where she is now. If you take it as a lesson rather than a burden thats when you become a champion.
Monday, June 30, 2008
First positive I see is that Aubrey is 16 years old and at least she has one maybe two more Trials under her belt. I am pretty sure that if she keeps improving with her training and keeps working hard at the next Trials she will be in a position to be a player (no pressure :-). Second positive that I see is that it is better to have a “not so good swim” when you don’t have anything to lose than if you have a chance to make the team. It is better now than in four years.
I know that training and taper is not always perfect but what I saw today was a swimmer that 20 minutes before "the race of her life" she was very nervous and tight (just my observation). Aubrey has been swimming better and better every day and even yesterday night she was swimming very fast and she was telling me that she was feeling very good in the water.
As a coach I am very proud of what she has done this whole season. I am upset because I don’t like to see any of the swimmers I coach upset and in such pain but as I said before we need to focus on the positive. I have the privilege of coaching Aubrey for two more years and I have no doubts that we will have many happy moments watching her swim very fast. We need to keep working hard and most important we can “NEVER GIVE UP ON OUR DREAMS”
BE PROUD BE A SHARK!
Also thanks for all the support that you are giving Aubrey and Coach Chris.
Have a beautiful night.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Watching the way Ryan Lochte make Michael Phelps work for the win was one of those races that will be very hard to forget. At the end of the race I was showing Chris (he was sitting next to me) all the Goosebumps all over my arms :-)>. Both of them swam under the World Record but only Michael Phelps walked away with the record and the first spot in the 2008 US Olympic Team. Phelps later on said that it was a very hard race and that he swam that fast because Lochte was pushing him. Amazing!!!
I have the impression that Ryan Lochte was not very happy with his swim tonight. After the race when Phelps was congratulating him Ryan did not look happy at all. Many years ago I had the same feeling at the 1990 Goodwill Games when I swam .7 under the World Record in the 200 Breaststroke at that time but my training partner touched the wall .3 ahead of me to beat me. The best race of my life but I can assure you that I was very unhappy at that time and the way Ryan Lochte looked tonight I have the feeling that he feels the same. He swam under the World Record made the 2008 Olympic team but at the end of the day he was not able to win and be the best in the world. Well this is the way I see it and you know me :-).
The battles in the pool did not stop with the 400 IM, the women’s 100 fly semifinal was such a close race, the men’s 400 Free final was another epic swim with two swimmers swimming under the American record and most important swimming stroke by stroke until the end. The women’s 400 IM was another race that was out of this world. Incredible the way these swimmers get the best out of their bodies and minds. Incredible they way they will not give up and the way these swimmers have train their bodies and minds to squeeze every single ounce of energy and will power to reach their dream of being an Olympian. After watching these races I feel like I want to get back to the pool and train again, but then I walk to the parking lot to get to my car and reality hits me. There is no way I can do this again :-), I am too old and most important I don’t think TYR, Blueseventy or any one of those brands makes a suit to accommodate my size.
Tomorrow we have one of our Sharks making her debut at Trials. Aubrey has done a very good job training this season and I really think she is ready to swim very well. She has been looking better and better in practice every day and today she felt pretty good in the water. She is excited and ready to swim fast. I hope that she takes the approach that she has nothing to lose and a lot to win. At the end of the day she has a lane for herself and she just needs to give herself a chance to see how good she is at that moment in time.
Well I am going to bed; by the way Spain won the 2008 European Championship after 44 years of not winning. What a great day!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Maybe you heard, maybe you didn't. This nasty, and I mean NASTY storm came careening into Omaha Friday night before Trials, damaging the building and forcing everyone inside to evacuate. I wasn't even in it, though.
Five minutes before the storm hit I was out on the street looking for a burger or something to eat. I was on the phone with a friend of mine when sirens started sounding. Not ambulance sirens but TORNADO sirens. I told my friend, "That can't be good," so she checked the radar and let me know that a storm was moving in. Me, I still wanted that burger.
Keeping a wary eye on the approaching darkness I found this neat place and pulled inside. Sipping a soda I noticed the local meteorologist on the TV. The sound was turned down so I couldn't hear him, but I didn't need to. His sleeves were rolled up. We all know that when they do that there's some serious weather. When a meteorologist rolls up his sleeves you'd better look out. A house might land on you or something.
So there he is, sleeves rolled up, red map, and these huge circling graphics on the map that I took to indicate potential tornados. I can't write what I started thinking! Then I see that all the other people at the restaurant were staring out the window. I turned around and the only word I can use is "chaos." The wind was so vicious I could actually see it! Two-inch hail was pounding everything in sight. I was transfixed. So transfixed, actually, it didn't occur to me that I was the only person sitting on that side of the restaurant. It appears that the locals knew something I didn't: Storms like this can take out windows.
Well, the windows were fine and so was I. After it blew over I left and walked back in what felt like a different city. The sidewalks were covered in leaves and fallen branches. An arts festival a few blocks away was decimated. I got the feeling I'd turn a corner and see a house with a pair of ruby slippered shod feet sticking out the bottom, that's how sure I was there must have been a tornado. But no witch. This wasn't Oz. I was still in Nebraska.
It wasn't until I got to the Qwest center that I saw the damage here. Incredible. I listened to Aaron Peirsol saying that he had to run out the second floor with his bag over his head because water was coming through. But all is now well.
Gotta run. Hope you're all having fun.
This morning as I get ready to leave for Omaha, I can’t help reflect on the people and events that have brought me to this point. It was less than eight years ago that I showed up on the pool deck for my placement swim. I was just shy of my ninth birthday full of confidence and short on experience. I guess things never change. Since then I have had seven different coaches who have all contributed in some way to my being here. I have made many life long friends some who still swim and others who have chosen a different path.
Coach Bahr was my first coach. I will never forget my first meet. I had never swum anything but a 25 yard race, 50’s seemed so long, and then there was that back stroke flip turn that I had never heard of or seen. Coach Bahr encouraged my to give it a try. I did-I was DQ’ed. That race taught me that thru our failures we learn our greatest lessons. It gave me a place to start, a place from which to build. Thank you Coach Bahr.
Throughout the next few years in the age group program I swam with Coach Chris and Nancy. They taught me technique and discipline. Nancy taught me to expand my horizons. One season she only let me swim the backstroke once, she thought I was picking my races. She made me focus on the events I didn’t like (those that I didn’t think I was good at.) I went from being absolutely the worst breaststroker to making finals in the 200 breaststoke at J.O’s. While I am still not a breastroker, it sure helped my IM. Thank you Nancy and Chris for making me face my weaknesses.
My first experience in the Senior Program was with Coach Zubero. There is no other coach with as much patience and understanding. Those couple of years I was faced with many serious health issues and without him there to continue to support me each time I fell, I would probably not have continued in the sport. He was able to keep me believing on days that I wanted to give up and somehow trained me through it all. My vision was that he would be by my side when I swam at trials. While he won’t be with me physically, he will be there in my heart. Thank you Coach Zubero, for being my coach and friend.
Besides the coaches, my friends have played a crucial role in my swimming. Many of them have been there since they day I started. They are the reason that I came to practice and worked hard. It’s the undeniable “social” part of swimming that is so important. Without this group of talented swimmers who came to race everyday at practice and challenge me for that slot on the relay or place in first interval I would still be blowing bubbles. Thank to those who have been around since I started, Caitlin, Casey, Taylor, Kendall, Kylee, Ellie and everyone else who has joined us along the way.
To my parents, thank you for everything, for always being there to support me and take me to those early morning workouts...
Last but not least, Coach Sergio. I trust you and believe that I am ready. I hope that I do not let you down. Thank you for sharing this experience with me.
Well I have never been short on words. If only I could type as fast as I talk, I could have written a book.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Naturally I'm incredibly excited to be a part of the event. For those who don't know I'll be working with NBC on broadcasting the Trials. At the end of July I travel to Beijing to do the same thing. Basically I'll try to help Dan Hicks with swimmers and times and the kinds of things the lay-person doesn't really know about our sport.
But that's me and that's boring. What's exciting is knowing that Chris and Aubrey will have the chance in competing in a historic meet. I for one am excited to see them surprise people, including themselves, with what they are capable of doing in the water. And the beauty is they aren't walking in there with a nation's expectations on their shoulders. The trick at Trials is to walk into that building under the radar and leave it as a prime target.
I hope I can do justice to the excitement at this meet. I'll do what I can to bring you the other side of the Trials, the things you won't get to see during that live hour of broadcasting each night.
And while I'm gone, SWIM FAST!!!!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
This is my first post hopefyully it works. We will try to use this blog during the 2008 US Olympic Trials to post our thoughts, pictures and anything we see. As you know we have Aubrey Peacock, Chris Hagedorn swimming at the meet and then me (Coach Sergio) as the coach and also Coach Christian who will be helping with NBC.
We will keep you posted.