June was terrific. It will be tough to beat. I was able to attend the Your Story Retreat in Portland and now I’m heading home from a long weekend trip to Omaha, Nebraska where I saw America’s finest swimmers compete in the Olympic Time Trials for a chance to represent our country in the 2012 Olympics. It was surreal.
I was in story and happy place heaven. Commentators were telling the stories of Olympic hopefuls on the Jumbo screen which made my cheeks hurt from grinning. I soaked in the experience and had memories of chlorine, heat sheets, swim suits, cheering parents, and the whistling and waving of the coaches come flooding back. I laughed, cheered, and felt my heartache when swimmers didn’t qualify for a spot on the team.
Only the top 2 competitors of each event qualify to compete in the Olympics. Some events had over 150 swimmers vying for those 2 spots. In swimming the differences come down to hundredths of a second. In the men’s 50 free, the difference between 1st and 2nd place was 0.01 seconds. Insanely close.
Swimmers and their families are just great! Unlike many other sports and athletes I’ve encountered, swimmers are approachable and gladly give autographs and talk with the kids. No fancy lines or athletes wearing their sunglasses during press conferences. Just happy, personable athletes thrilled that their sport is growing in popularity.
Mrs. Phelps, mom of Michael Phelps, the best swimmer in history, spent over 10 minutes talking with the girls and asking them about their school, swim team, and their favorite swimming strokes. She was unbelievably gracious to spend so much time with them.
I started swimming competitively at the age of 10, which is typically kind of late for a swimmer. But after my first practice, I was hooked. And to this day, I have yet to find a place other than a pool or a pool deck that has allowed me to feel more centered, energized, or inspired.
I miss the black painted line or the blue tiled lines at the bottom of the pool. I miss the smell of chlorine and the green streaks that were found on my blonde hair for most of my middle and high school years. I miss my chiseled body and the feeling of confidence when I would out touch another swimmer at the wall. And I really miss the conversations that I would have with my parents and the kids in our carpool. I swam twice a day and the pool was over 30 miles away. That left plenty of time for meaningful conversations, snacks, and laughter.
So it was terrific that I got to experience the swimming trials with my dad who spent countless hours driving me to practices, paying for my out of state meets, rubbing my shoulders after events, and talking swimming strategies between morning prelims and evening finals. And now that Rebecca and Emily swim it was just neat to see us all looking through the heat sheets (program) together to find out how old the swimmers were, where they were from, and to see if they were improving their times.
One of the highlights of my trip was watching Dara Torres (lane #3) swim in the preliminary heats of the 50 free. She is 45 years old and was looking to qualify for her 6th Olympics in the 50 freestyle. She placed 4th in the finals and just missed her shot. But high five to Dara as she is a true competitor and incredibly inspirational.
The city of Omaha and USA swimming did an amazing job preparing for this event. They had a huge area called Aquazone that was filled with games, former olympians, and entertainment for the crowds. The girls were able to meet Chrissy Ahmann, a gold and silver medalist from the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
And this is possibly my favorite picture. It makes me giggle. I will update this post later with a picture or two of me, but my dad got away without me uploading his pictures. I promise I was there.
So I got to check another item off my life list, spend time with my oldest two girls and my dad, and leave feeling overwhelmingly inspired. As I watched the swimming and stories unfold, I was reminded that I am solely responsible for reaching for my dreams and writing the next chapter of my story. And I’m determined it’s going to be good.
Blessings sweet friends – Jenny
I’m choosing to live life intentionally after a battle with cancer. I’m enjoying life and marking items off my life list. Specifically, this was one of the 39 items I want to complete before I turn 39 in November 2012.Tweet