Taking the show on the road! That’s exactly what we did last week as my Olympic champion friends and I had the privilege to share our story with coaches and age-group swimmers in Bogota, Colombia. Every four years, the Olympic Games introduce us to new athletes that are not of the baseball, football or basketball type. These are athletes that excel at “other” sports like track and field, swimming and gymnastics and unless his name is Michael Phelps or unless you consider yourself a swim, gym or track mom, you probably have never heard of any of these amazing athletes. This summer, NBC will tell you their stories while in the moment but we share our story in hindsight.
Bogota, Colombia is an amazing city of approximately 6.5 million. It’s a city on the forefront of healthy living. On Sundays, the mayor of Bogota closes down all of the major streets and promotes riding your bike or going for a walk along the now famous ciclovia. The ciclovia and the selection of readily available fresh fruit along its path help Colombians not only to stay healthy but also to choose healthy options when it comes to snacking. The Olympic Champions Swim Clinic and Forum was received by a sold-out audience at the Club Arrayanes. Our audience was ready to hear the stories and to learn from some of the greatest athletes the world has known.
I attended two Olympic Games and walked away with exactly zero medals. I did however walk away with amazing memories and the opportunity to swim on the greatest stage our sport can offer. When I ended my sporting career, I had a lot of questions and only time has given me the opportunity to be at peace with my performances. The story of the other Olympians is considerably different than mine. Each has won at least 1 Olympic gold and each has achieved at least 1 world record time. So for this reason, I am the moderator on these trips and they are the story tellers.
The Olympic Champions Swim Clinic and Forum tells the story of four of the greatest swimming Olympians of all time. Lenny Krayzelburg (4x Olympic gold medalist), Rebecca Soni (3x Olympic gold medalist), Misty Hyman (1x Olympic gold medalist) and Jason Lezak (4x Olympic gold medalist) each has a different story to share and although these stories all end in the same Olympic success, they didn’t necessarily take the same path to achieve it. Lenny, a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine, withstood 4-hour daily roundtrip commutes just to attend practice. Rebecca, born to Hungarian immigrants, was a gymnast until the age of 10. Misty only started swimming because of her asthma and Jason was kicked out of practice so much, he elected to train without a coach for the final 6 years of his career. These athletes got to share their personal stories with the audience and I got the privilege to share the stage with them.
Sometimes, the greatest lessons in life are learned after the fact, when the dust has settled and everything has been accounted for. These stories could not have been told in the moment because the future held so many of the answers. For these Olympians, sharing their stories help to empower the audience that is lucky enough to be in attendance and truthfully, that is what the Olympic spirit is all about. With the swimming Olympic trials about 1 month away and the Olympic Games about 2 months away, I hope that you enjoy the stories that will develop in the moment but know that the entire story can only be told with time.
Until next time.