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