AUGUST 11, 2011

All in all, I’m pretty happy with my performances at this past month’s 2011 FINA World Championships.  This was my fifth career appearance at Worlds and I left with three medals, one of each color, bringing my career total to nineteen World Championship medals.  I’ve never left a meet fully satisfied with my performances and this meet is no different.  While I am very proud of my swims, there are things that I learned in each of my races that I will take with me into training over the next year.  One of the most beautiful things about swimming, and sometimes one of the most frustrating, is how many different variables contribute to any given performance. Kate Ziegler, Katie Hoff and me cheering from the stands.

Forget for a moment the technical suits, the composition of the pool, the training over the past decade, and so on.  All of this (and much more) obviously has an effect on my races.  I’m talking about the moment the starter beeps to the moment your hand touches the wall.  It’s amazing how many seemingly tiny, technical changes can affect the outcome of any given race.  How you set your start, how quickly you react to the beep, how much tone your body has as it enters the water, the angle of entry, the timing of your first kick, the number of underwater kicks, the depth of your breakout. These are things that go through my mind in the first few seconds of my race!  My two best races, the 100 freestyle and the 100 back, are both less than a minute and I can fill this page with the things to think about in any given race.

Waiting for our bus. Apparently the “peace” sign also mean’s “yay” in China.

Remember that epic swim between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic at the Beijing Olympics? Both swimmers had the swim of their lives, but that 100 fly came down to the touch.  Cavic practically had that race won, but had a terrible finish while Phelps made the right choice at the right time with his finish.  One quarter of an inch was the difference between gold and silver.  And the rest is history…

Right now, the London Olympics are less than a year away. 352 days until the Opening Ceremonies.  I’ve never obsessed with the countdown calendar and I’m not about to start.  Just having that date, the 27th of July, in the back of my mind is enough to keep me motivated.  I’ll take the mistakes that I made in my World Championship races as well as the successes into my training over the next year.

It is insane how quickly time passes by.  It’s exciting as well as nerve-wracking.  The London Games will be here before we know it!