Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Ready Room

Granted, my involvement in the Olympics is a lot less glorious than those of our esteemed athletes and coaches representing their various countries at these Games. Nonetheless I feel this untenable mix of nerves and stress welling up in my gut. I imagine it's that same feeling our swimmers endure during those last frenetic moments before a race, that time when one has to decide whether the butterflies swirling in the pit of their stomach are ambassadors of excitement or harbringers of fear.

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!)

Just another day...

Hello all....

We went to see the Dark Knight again in the ghetto Filipino THeater!!! The movie cost $2!!!During the movie a cat went walking up the stairs while the movie was showing. Also while watching the movie a little 4 yr old girl started talking to Coach Sergio for like 20 mins. It was so funny because she would not leave him alone.

We also had great sight today at practice. Sergio was working out!!!!!!!!!! We all could not believe it.

I went to see the team chiropractor today and he told me my back is starting to curve alot. I finally figured out why my back has been hurting for months. I thought it was because I was getting fat!!! I guess not!!! Thank YOU!!!!

Ryan, Daniel, Rodion, and Dani are all swimming really well. I think they will be ready for there biggest swim meet of there lives.....

Till again

I love u Tracey....


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hello ALL

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


So sadly I have been separated from the rest of the Bolles group as i traveled to Singapore to be with the Bahamas national team. However i am not sad that i am here at all.
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!!!!!!
Bye bye

First few days in my hometown

We've been here in the Philippines for two days. After a long, exhausting flight, we arrived in the Philippines. We went to this filipino fast food restaurant that i missed since i went to Bolles. After we ate, we went to my club team and it was a blast. Every Parent and swimmer was there and they were welcoming us. I was a little shy beacuse i am not really used to that kind of stuff. We trained there for two hours and then we ate at this club and stayed there for a long time chatting. I also saw my family there and i am so happy to see them. I still can't believe that I am here in the Philippines together with Coach Sergio, Coach Jason, Rodion, Dani, and Daniel. I am hoping that they have fun on there stay here so I am trying to make sure that they have whatever they need when they are still here. We are trying to give them a V.I.P. treatment here. In Practice yesterday, i still feel tired from flying and travelling but i did pretty well on my set. It was 2x400 on 5:20 descending to strong and teh 3x200 on 3:00 descending to Fast twice. I went 2:05 on the first fast one and 2:03 on the second. I felt like im not pulling anything but i am going prtty fast so i guees its a good sign and i've never been under 2:05 in practice in a long time since we started hard long practices for Olympics. So if Coach John is reading this, I went pretty fast so you should be proud of me! hahahaha! For now, thats all i have to say and i will right more happenings straight from the Philippines. :-)

North pole or Jet lag

For a second I thought this flight was never gonna end. All because when I looked at the monitor on the plane and saw that we were really close to North pole. I was pretty sure I stepped on a plane that had Hong Kong as destination. So when I looked out of the window all I could see was ice. not cool. After a couple of hours of learning a couple of new card games, running too catch an airplane and a bumpy landing we finally arrived on the island that I heard this little Filipino talk about all summer. That night I felt like a VIP, the people that picked us up had banners and everything. There wasn't much more I could ask for my first night in the Philippines. The next next morning the was the total of opposite then the night before. Everything was running really good until we finished warm up and Sergio said "16 x 50" on 50 seconds. After the first on I looked at Daniel and all I could think of was pain. That was the hardest set of 50's I ever did in my lifetime. Earlier that morning I thought I was fine, but jet lag just takes everything out of you. After that experience we got to see the beautiful country and arrived at this beautiful facility were we are staying now.

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 made it...

Hello all,

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

Tomorrow we start the journey

Tomorrow Rodion, Danielle and I will be leaving to the Philippines for our training camp before we go to Beijing on August 6th. Friday Coach Jason will be traveling with Ryan and Daniel to the Philippines where we will meet to start our training camp.

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.

Coach Sergio

Monday, July 7, 2008

Amazing Week - FAST swimming

What a great week of FAST swimming.

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

Pictures... just a few...

Chris and I at the start of the July 4th "Finals" session.

The Toyota zone, which had food, drinks, computers and much more.

The 4th of July "Finals" session where everyone wore a red, white or blue colored shirt that was given to them. One of the coolest most inspirational events i have experienced!

Chris in the 100 meter butterfly!!

Again Chris swimming the 100 butterfly in which his googles came off! 
The last race of his swimming career.

Past couple days...

Sorry it has been a while since my last blog. It has been a great last few days. Well,  when I blogged last I was supposed to swim the 100 meter backstroke the following day. Because of the time trial time limit and the amount of entries I was unable to swim it Tuesday and had to wait until the following day, Wednesday. To my relief I swam the 100 better in the time trial than i did in the meet, coming close to my best time with a 1:04.5. I was not thrilled with the time and would have loved to do better but I was happy. Then yesterday I swam my last and final time trial, swimming the 50 free. I was seeded last and came out with a best time of 26.7. I have been working towards breaking a 27 in the 50 for some time now and it was very exciting to not have only broken a 27 but also being able to walk  away from trials with a best time. Like I have said before this meet has taught me a lot about myself and the sport of swimming. In addition to realizing that I swim for myself this meet has taught me to swim each race individually. Each race is a different job. If you fail at one you don't have to fail at the next. 

Last night was special. Kathleen Hersey touched second in the 200 meter butterfly, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team. She is a friend from Atlanta and it was very exciting to see how happy she was. Her hard work paid off. 

Today, Chris swam. He swam well and seemed to be very happy knowing that he was done and retired from swimming. His warm down was sitting in the jacuzzi.

until next time... :) aubrey

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good story :-)

Today one of my old swimmers qualified for the US Olympic Team. What a day!

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.


Keeping the Dream Alive

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. 

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more wisely." - unknown

More wisely being a time trial. I plan to time trial the 100 Back today with a different approach. No nerves, No distraction, just me and the water. 

I am not going to lie though, this experience is unreal. There is so much more behind the scenes, other than racing pool and t.v. camera's. It is like a swimmers heaven. Toyota contributed a wonderful room with chairs, pillows, computers, T.V. games, food, and rock band for the athletes to relax in during the meet. There are also free massages, physical therapy, and jacuzzis  for the athletes. I got a massage yesterday and it was amazing. I could not have asked for a better experience then I am having. 

A BIG thanks to everyone at home, friends and family, for the support.