5 weeks... that's it. 5 weeks from this past Sunday we leave to go to Okinawa, Japan for a week and a half and then on to Beijing. I like to say that it has come up fast, but in reality I've known it was coming all along. It just seems crazy that the event I have dreamed of for so long is so close now. The saying ‘every practice counts' takes on a whole new meaning at this point. Now I look back at all the times in the pool and say ‘I hope I've done enough'. With 5 weeks left, I am going to give it all I have. In the pool and out of the pool so whatever the outcome is in Beijing, I know I gave it my all.
Last week we had a swim meet in Victoria, Canada and given where we are in our training cycle I was happy with the results. We did not taper or rest for the meet and my times were within seconds of where they had been at trials this past April, when I was tapered. As I had written in my last blog I was hoping to beat some of my competition in the 400 freestyle. I didn't do that but I am feeling confident I can get my times down to be competitive with them in Beijing. I did get the American Record in the 50 butterfly which I was happy with. My attempt at the 200 fly even went OK as I finished both prelims and finals, and dropped 8 seconds in finals. As hard as it was I actually liked it because it makes the 100 fly seem so much shorter and can only help with it. Along with being happy with my times Victoria is absolutely gorgeous. The ocean, the mountains, the fantastic weather, it's definitely a place I would go back too. One of the first days we went down to the Wharf and saw some seals and cool looking houseboats and ate some good fish. Dick got to come up for the weekend and we enjoyed walking around the city checking out the various local shops and finding new restaurants. It was a great trip overall and I would highly recommend Victoria to anyone.
I am starting to do some mental imagery with my races and I keep imagining myself standing on top of the podium hearing our national anthem. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps and gets me all emotional. However, the S9 classification that I am in has extremely tough competition and I know that medaling at all is going to be tough. I have done a number of media interviews over the past few weeks and I am continually asked if I am going to bring home the gold. This question bothers me because it makes my qualifying for the team, and going to Beijing, seem as though it is not good enough. Of course I want a medal...I will try with all I have to get to the wall before my competitors but, whatever the outcome, I am so proud and honored to be over there in the first place. To put in it perspective, I would have to drop 40 seconds, yes 40, to get a gold in the 400 free. And after hearing 40 seconds, a measly 11 seconds in the 100 fly or 9 in the 100 free doesn't seem so bad...it's A LOT of time to drop thanks to the magnificent Natalie Du Toit from South Africa. Do I think it's possible to drop that much time? Yes, I do. Am I going to give it my all and do my best? Of course I am. Do I want to gold? Duh. But gold or not, medal or not, as long as I do my best and give it all I have, I will be happy with the outcome. I wish that is what the reporters would ask.
We were given a general outline as to what to expect for the remaining weeks of practice before we leave. Now is the time that we start working more with stretch cords and the towing machine in the pool to work more on speed. Every Thurs we will do a certain number of 100 meter swims as fast as we can on a specific interval. These workouts are ones that my team and I don't really look forward to because they are so tough. But they are necessary and give us a good idea of our times. Plus, it is motivating when our times are better than we thought they would be.
We have one last meet before we leave and it is at the Air Force Academy next week. It is part of the State Games of the West that takes place in CO every year. I will be swimming the 200 and 400 free, the 200 IM and the 200 fly again. The 200 IM is an off event for me and it seems funny that I will be doing breastroke in an actual race. You would see my humor in it if you ever saw me doing it...
Today (Sunday) is our day off and it's beautiful outside and I am going to go read my book by the pool for a little bit and then watch the ESPY awards on TV tonight. My teammates did not win but thanks for all who voted for them. It was an honor for them to be nominated.
(Photo Credits by Melissa Stockwell: The writing on the wall (top): A drawing that was on the side of a building at the wharf in Victoria. In the water (middle): A cool picture taken by the Rocky Mountain News.)
Melissa Stockwell is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.