Favorite 4th of July memories

By Lisa Costantini | July 05, 2011, 1:57 p.m. (ET)

July Fourth is about more than just picnics and fireworks, it’s the day the U.S. gained back its independence from Great Britain. And it’s such a big deal even many of our country’s top athletes – who are hard at work training for the London Games – get the day off. So in honor of Independence Day, we asked some Olympic athletes to share their most memorable July 4th memory.

Hunter Kemper, Olympic triathlete

“Val, Davis, and I, along with my wife's younger sister Julie and her husband Ryan all went up to Copper Mountain, Colo., for July 4th, 2009.  It was so much fun.  I got to ride on paddleboats with my 2yr. son, Davis.  We walked in a kid’s parade and Davis rode his Skuut bike (small wooden bike with no pedals) all around the little town of Copper Mountain. At the end of the day we drove to Frisco to watch the big July 4th fireworks show. I love the 4th of July, or should I say Independence Day, and what it means.”

2012 BMX Olympic qualifier Arielle Martin

“My favorite 4th of July was in 2005. I was racing in Pittsburgh, PA at the Stars 'n Stripes National event against a bunch of tough international competition. I made a pass right at the finish line for the win, which was huge for me because it was the first really big pro win of my career. I'll never forget that pass at the finish. I was so determined to get it.  In BMX, it's never over until you cross that white line!”

11-time Olympic medalist swimmer Natalie Coughlin

“In college a bunch of my friends and I stayed in a cabin in Tahoe and did a river float down the Truckee River. Lots of sun, lots of food, and lots of relaxing. Perfect!”

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ricky Berens

“One of my favorite 4th of July memories would have to be from a few years ago when I was sharing a house with two roommates. I teamed up with one roommate - fellow Olympic gold medalist David Walters - to pull a prank on our other roommate. We somehow decided it would be a good idea to set firecrackers off in our roommate’s bedroom. (Kids, do NOT try this at home!) After the firecrackers went off, the house filled with smoke, the fire alarm sounded and it ended up taking hours to vacuum and clean up! But, David and I will never forget the look on our roommate’s face!”

Sarah Schleper, 4x Olympic downhill skier

“My favorite fourth of July memory is from when we were little. We decorated our double-decker pontoon boat like the Statue of Liberty for the boat parade around the lake.  My friends and I all dressed in red, white and blue sailor dresses and waved to the people as if we were princesses.”

Sarah Haskins, Olympic triathlete

“I would have to say going out in the paddle boat with my cousins to the middle of the lake to watch the fireworks overhead.  Every Saturday before the 4th in Innsbrook, Missouri there would be a 45-minute display.  We knew we were close when the firework ash was falling in the water next to our boat!”

Elena Hight, Olympic snowboarder

“My favorite 4th of July memories all stem from being at my home in Lake Tahoe. I have hosted an annual BBQ at my house for about 6 years now. There is nothing better then spending the day at the lake with all my friends, grilling up some great food on my back porch for dinner, and walking back down to the lake to enjoy the annual fireworks. Having this tradition with all my friends and family on Independence Day really makes me appreciate the freedom we have to enjoy relaxing, fun days like this.”