Monday, September 22, 2008


I have been back in the states now for a few days and getting over the jet lag has not been easy. I think I brought something back from Beijing with me as I haven't been feeling that well since I've been back but I am getting better as the days go on. I am still in CO but am leaving tomorrow to drive back to Chicago. I am really looking forward to finally being at home. Since we can post pictures now I wanted to post a few of my favorites from my time in Beijing. I can't figure out how to put captions on them but they are of opening and closing ceremonies, our time in the cube and one of my room in the Olympic Village. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My last days in Beijing.

Tonight was closing ceremonies. I was nominated to carry the flag for the US delegation and got the honor of doing so. It was such an honor, I can't even explain it in words. Standing in the tunnel with all the countries and walking out into the sold out stadium carrying our flag was amazing. It adds even more to the whole experience and was the perfect way to end the trip.

Our team finished up in the water cube on top of the medal count. We got the most overall medals in the meet ahead of China and Ukraine. It was incredible, I only wish I could have added to the count. But being part of the Team has been the experience of a lifetime.

I finally got to get around and see some of China. I went with my parents and a tour guide who showed us the sights. We went to the Great Wall and it was sooo cool. We took a gondola up most of the way and then walked the rest of the way up. What a sight to be on top of the wall. It was a for sure highlight of the trip. After the great wall we went to this back alley restaurant and got some Peking Duck. We walked in and saw the ducks roasting in the fire. The cook brought them over to our table and we got 4 plates of duck meet that we wrapped in these real thin pancakes with cucumbers. It was soo tasty. Then we had quite the experience at the silk market. It's this indoor mall with hundreds of stalls that have anything you can think of and you barter back and forth for the price you want. I got a few knock off purses and some jewlery. I enjoyed myself there. It was an overall great day being able to get out of the village and spend some time with my parents.

We already had to pack our bags and turn them in for the flight tomorrow. We leave here at 12:30 for a 4:30 flight. As much as I am looking forward to getting home I am not looking forward to the long day of traveling tomorrow. From here to Chicago, to Denver, 2 hr. layover and then finally Colorado Springs. We will all be exhausted once we finally get back. I will be in the Springs for 4 days while I pack up and then make the drive back to Chicago. I can't wait to get back there.

I doubt I'll be writing too much anymore once I get back. I will post pictures and post the website where you can go to see those.

Thanks for all the cheers and the support from you all throughout this journey of mine. I wouldn't have gotten here without it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My last swim

My best time going into prelims was 5:03. That time would have put me in finals. My time today was a 5:09. That put me 11th. As I got up on the blocks I saw that a girl in the heat ahead of me had gotten DQ'd. She was one of the ones ahead of me in the rankings and I thought, this is my chance. The 1st 200 went well but then my body and my muscles got tight and I slowed down. I was ranked 3rd in my heat and could see a girl across the pool getting close to me. I tried to hold her off but it didn't work. I came in 4th on my heat and knew right away that my time wouldn't be fast enough for finals.

I am disappointed. I knew medaling was going to be tough but I thought for sure I would make finals and even more sure that I would get 3 best times. I only got a best time in 1 event. This just wan't my meet. Trials was, this wasn't.

I am trying to put it all in perspective since my main goal was just to make it here to Beijing. I am here and swam on the biggest athletic stage I've ever been on. I'll take the memories of it all back to the states with me. Opening ceremonies, the village, my AWESOME cheering section, wearing the USA uniform, the great swims of my teammates... I will carry them all with me and they can only make be stronger on whatever I decide to pursue next. Everyone here has the dream of standing on the medal podium hearing their national anthem. I've dreamed it a hundred times. Maybe it will happen for me somewhere down the road, Beijing just wasn't my time.

After my race I got to see Dick and my family. I've never wanted and needed a hug from Dick and my family so badly. The tears flowed from all of us and it was with a mixture of emotions. For me, it was mostly disappointment in myself and my times but also that the journey to and in Beijing is over for me. It has been an unforgettable one filled with both ups and downs and I would do it all over again. But hopefully with better results this time...:)

I had so much support here. 20 incredible family and friends that came all the way here to see me swim (and check out the sights of China..) I am trying not to feel bad that they didn't even get to see me swim in finals. But it is what it is...

There are 3 days left of swimming and I will be there to cheer on my teammates. After that we get a day off before closing ceremonies. We get to go with our families to see the city so I'll be out with my parents for the day. I'm sure we'll see the Great Wall and hopefully I'll get to see the some of the city and try some authentic Chinese food. I am looking forward to that.

SO, my time swimming in the cube is over. I wish I could go back and redo all my swims but that'll have to be done in my head. When I take a bigger look at things which will get easier as the days go on, I am still honored to have worn the USA uniform over here and be part of Team USA. This has been an incredible experience and I am proud to have made it this far.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sept. 11th

I got to sleep in today which was awesome. The 400 free is tomorrow so it was decided that some extra sleep might do me some good. I thought 3 days off in between my races would be so long but my race is tomorrow already. How time flies...

The past 2 days have been as exciting as the first few with the races of my teammates. I believe the USA is ahead in the medal count for swimming. China has gotten the most golds but we are on top for all medals. Yeah USA!

I've been at the pool for the majority of the time the past 2 days. I've gotten in to warm up and swim about 3 times and I am feeling better in the water. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be feeling great and ready to swim myself into finals. I am hoping I am feeling a little better by tomorrow. I have been loosing my voice for the past few days and originally I thought it was becasue I was screaming for my teammates so much but yesterday came the runny nose and headache and such. I saw the doctor here and got some things that should make me better by the morning.

Two days ago now my sister, Amanda, and her husband, Gavin, came into the Olympic Village and yesterday Dick and his brother, Mark got to come in. There are a limited number of visitor passes each athlete can get so I have limited it to family coming in. I wish I could bring all 20 of my family and friends in but that wouldn't work too well. It was great to spend more time with my family and show them around the village a little bit. There's actually not too much to show but they saw my room, the dining hall and got to see what it's like inside here. It was great to see them and I'm looking forward to my parents coming this Sun.

Today is Sept. 11th in Beijing. I think when I post this it will still be the 10th in the states. With all that is going on here, I am embarrassed to say that I didn't realize it until this morning. I hope all of us can stop for a moment today and remember the lives of those lost on this day 7 years ago. It is with their lives and those lost since then that we can enjoy the liberties that we have today. As I walk around the Olympic Village I have such a sense of pride being a part of team USA. I am honored to wear the red, white and blue and will think of all those today who represent the US in a different uniform.

TOmorrow is the big day. It will be a good one, I know that. Next time I write will be with how well my race went. Until then, I get to watch my teammates race tonight and I know they will make us all proud.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Day two was a little better than yesterday. I did get a best time by about .7 seconds which I was happy about. I would be happier if I went a bit faster but a best time is what I was going for so I will be happy with that. I obviously didn't make it to finals...again...but Friday is my best race and I am going to focus on that. The goal is to make it back to finals. I'll start there...

As they did yesterday, my teammates blew the competition out of the water in finals. Once again, world records were broken, national anthems played and I was a proud member of the US Paralympic swim team. Hopefully on Friday I'll be down there in the pool also.

Now I have three days off until my next race and I am going to focus on just trying to relax and get the 'good feel' in the water back. Ive been missing it these past couple of days so hopefully with a 3 day break I'll be feeling great by Fri.

ANother day down. I'll be back cheering for everyone tomorrow.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day One

This is going to be a short one again as my bed is calling my name. First let me say that opening ceremonies was incredible. Walking into the stadium, seeing the sold out crowd and trying to soak it all in, saying it was awesome is an understatement. We stayed for about 45 minutes after we got in there and since I was in a wheelchair we had amazing seats. I wish we could have stayed for the whole thing but we got out and back here by 11pm. It worked out well.

Today was the 100 fly. Unfortunately, I don't have any exciting news about my race to speak of. In fact it was quite the opposite but I'm putting it behind me. I have to say I was quite caught up in the moment of being here. Walking out to the starting area and seeing my 20 family and friends in the stands was one of the greatest moments I have experienced. I felt so lucky and so honored to have them all here. After the race I saw my time and was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a personal best. But seeing everyone up there cheering me on regardless of my time made it all OK. I got out of the pool and just tried to soak it all in. When I got back to my room it set in that I really really wished I had done better. Just to prove to myself that I could do it. I know I am capable of doing better, of doing a lot better, it just wasn't my day. Two more races to go... tomorrow the 100 free and then Friday is the big one, the 400 free. They will both be better than today.

Again, I can't name names but my teammates tonight did outstanding. I was so proud to be a teammate and part of the USA. Since I didn't make finals I was up in the stands and screamed my head off. World records were set, national anthems were played and amazing things happened. It was awesome.

ALong with the success of my teammates, the highlight of my day was seeing my family and friends at the cube. They came in before finals and I got to talk with them for about a half hour. Many much needed hugs were had and I'm looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. The 20 of them are the greatest cheering section in there. At least to me they are. They have flags and signs and shirts and banners. They are amazing.

Time for bed now. It's late and tomorrow is another early morning.


Again, I can't name names here but my teammates

Friday, September 5, 2008

It all starts tonight

I am going to try and be quick here so I can get to napping before the opening ceremonies TONIGHT. Yes, is finally here and I couldn't be more excited.

The past few days I have been feeling real heavy and real slow in the water and was getting a bit discouraged. My shoulders seemed a little too sore. However, today I felt much better and I know tomorrow will be even better so I am pumped about that. We got our heat assignments and in the 100 fly I am heat 3, lane 7, next to a teammate of mine and the infamous South African. I'm not supposed to be saying names here so you'll have to figure it out on your own. My goal is to do my best, obviously, and to make finals. To be top 8 and make finals I have lots of time to drop but I can do it. I know I can.

Tonight we leave for opening ceremonies at 6:30 which is much much later than we thought. Gives us time to eat, take a nap and relax before we go. I am so excited to walk into the stadium, I get goosebumps even thinking about it.

For all those back in the US, I will be on a segment with ABC news and Bob Woodruff either Sunday or Monday night. Keep a look out if you like. And a picture on the NY times website:

I need to nap now so I can get some rest before we leave. Just being here is such an honor for me and everything I have dreamed of for these past 3 years starts tonight. I have so much pride walking around the village as part of the USA and I know the rest of my team and I will make our country proud as the competition gets under way. Thanks for all your support and GO USA!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


What can I say, this place is incredible. Everything about it. I don't even know where to begin other than I thought this place was pretty cool when I saw it on TV. It didn't do it justice as everything is just awesome. I feel as though I have to pinch myself to remind me that I'm not dreaming and that I am actualy here. Here in Beijing.

We got here yesterday and as we flew in you could see the organized and structured building structures and it all looks so neat. As we drove out of the airport we passed these thousands of perfectly spaced planted trees. Everything is so clean. Even the highway was spotless. We got to the village and it feels like we are in a resort. Everything from the rooms, the landscaping, the volunteers that jump up to do anything and everything you'd ever need, the food, it's all fantastic. Our rooms have 6 people in tham, 2 to a room with 2 bathrooms. I really enjoy my suitemates. For practices we have about a 5 min. walk to the bus terminal where we have about a 10 min ride to the pool. Our practice times vary depending on the day but we are still going twice a day but doing very very little in the second workout. We are trying to get adjusted to the prelim/ final schedule.
The dining hall here is absolutely enormous. It has any type of food you could imagine. Really, think of anything and I bet they have it. I don't know how many people it seats but probably 5,000 or so. It's huge.

This morning we practiced at the water polo pool and to get there we drove a little further so we got to see a bit more of the city. At 6:30am there were people out flying kites on these things that would be parks if they had grass but they are concrete. People out riding their bikes which are everywhere, doing Tai- chi. We drove past this really cool totem pole and cool thatched houses. And it's all SO clean.

The water cube left me speechless. Seeing it from the outside is one thing but walking in and seeing where we will swim the biggest reaces of our lives brought tears to my eyes. It is incredible. We swim in the competition pool for the first time tomorrow. There is a practice pool too which we have swam in a few times which feels fast. I bet the competition one is even better...

The big thing here is pin trading. I had no idea this went on but it's like wildfire. We got about 15 pins each to trade and I wish we had 100's of them. Everyone wants the pins from every other country. It's fun and I gladly take part in it.

I have taken many pictures but due to the super strict blogging guidelines I'm not going to post any. It was recommended that we do that to be on the safe side. I can, however, e-mail pictures which I will do in the next day or two to all of you on my long e-mail list that get e-mails from Dick or I some times.

Dick and my family and friends get here on Friday. I am really looking forward to seeing them. Even though it will be a wave from the stands, I'm excited.

As usual, it's time for me to go to bed now. I didn't get much sleep last night and I felt it today so hoepfully I can sleep better tonight.

Good night!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Beijing Bound. Literally....

We are loading the bus to leave for the plane in about 2 hours. I can't believe the time has actually come and we are going to be in Beijing in the Olympic Village later today. We have had such a great time here that it's as if we've been on vacation. Going into Beijing with a relaxed mind set and already accustomed to the weather and time change is awesome. We couldn't have asked for a better pre- Beijing trip. Now it's on to bigger things...

Yesterday we had a farewell dinner and a big thank you to everyone that has helped us out this week. It was a good time and they had these Japanese style karate/ drummer people that were put on a pretty cool performance. As we leave tomorrow I think we can ll say we've gotten a good taste of not only life on Kadena, but the island of Okinawa as well. It is a place I would definitely recommend. Here are a few pictures from us all of dressed up in some of our cool clothes that we wore to the closing dinner last night. We looked like quite the team. Here is another with my sponsor Shelley and I. She was awesome. She gave me my first gold medal...:) It's a 'medal' hello kitty necklace that is also a notebook. I may wear it everywhere I go...

I also got to talk to my parents last night which was nice since I haven't had the chance to talk to them since I've been here. I can't wait to see them and the rest of my family and friends in Beijing.

I tried the fancy LZR suit in the water yesterday for the first time. It was fantastic. Really fantastic. I think part of it is mental after seeing how fast the Olympians went wearing the suit and just feeling fast before you get in the water. But whatever it is, it helps and I can't wait to wear it in my races.

The bus left this morning at 5am for the pool. It was an early morning just trying to get a swim in before we left. We took a last team picture before we left the pool this morning. I've never swam outside much but I really enjoyed it. Even this morning when it was still pitch black when we got in the pool.

The next time I'll write I'll be in Beijing.Once we get there hopefully I'll be able to sleep from all the excitement. At trials I barely slept a wink because of all the excitement.

Until next time I'm Beijing Bound. For real this time.