Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Hangover

I woke up this morning with bleary eyes and an aching head, neither of which had anything to do with alcohol and everything to do with staying up way to late watching the Olympics. The swimming has been incredible, although we missed the most amazing relay swim in the history of the sport when our plane was delayed two hours on Sunday night. When we landed, just before midnight, I turned on my phone and it started buzzing with text messages - every time I tried to read one the "new message" screen would pop up again and interrupt me. There was "You missed the most amazing relay ever!" and "Holy crap I love Olympic swimming!" and my favorite, "OMG OMG OMG" - I had no idea what they were talking about, but I knew that when we found out JP was going to be very unhappy that it was a trip to Chicago that caused him to miss it.

We were finally able to watch the video Monday morning. I've watched it three times since then and I get goose bumps and tears in my eyes every time. I also get extremely irritated at all the headlines pronouncing Phelps as the hero of it all - um, he swam fast, very fast, the fastest any American has ever swam from a flat start, but Jason Lezak flew. I can't even describe how fast a 46.0 split is -- it's not just unheard of, it was unthought of. No one has ever come close to going that fast in a 100 meter free and I can't imagine when anyone will again. Don't get me wrong, Phelps is an incredible swimmer and great guy, but he is not the only swimmer there. I heard two different radio stations telling their listeners on Monday morning (as we raced back to Austin so JP could attend his orientation) that Phelps won his third gold in the 400 freestyle Sunday night - NO, it was the 4x100 relay, not the individual event - he doesn't even swim the 400 free individually. Anyway, hooray for the US team, hooray for Phelps making the sport so famous, and hooray for the internet allowing us to take part in that incredible moment when O'Hare tried to make us miss it.

It's a little sad to realize this is probably the last Olympics we'll know any of the competitors. We'll always "know" the sport and that will keep it extra exciting, but it's amazing to watch your friends up there. JP trained hundreds of hours with those guys, lived with them in the gross hallways of their dorm, and cheered them on from behind the blocks. I know not to even try to talk to him when they're racing on the TV, he's in the zone, watching and willing them to win. And because I'm not allowed to talk while they're on, I spend some time swimming around my own memories of the sport. I miss racing. I can't say I've ever missed practice - I've missed being in shape and I've missed that feeling of satisfaction when you've worked your body to its absolute limit (our couch used to say that it's been a good practice when you can't pull yourself out of the pool), but what I really miss is standing behind those blocks, diving in, and letting go of everything you have in the pool. That, and the moment after you touch, when you turn around to see the results of your efforts - there's nothing like it.

I already feel like my swimming life was a long time ago - at seven years, I suppose it was. You can now legally do a dolphin kick off the wall in breaststroke, something that got you DQ'd when I swam it. Phelps has brought swimming a level of fame and familiarity it didn't have when it was my sport. There's more money involved and more athletes can continue swimming after college without living off their parents. The camera angles and media coverage has all improved and make the few meets they televise so fun to watch. One of our close friends is the current world record holder in the 100 fly and one of the only threats to Phelps's goal of eight medals. Truthfully, I'm not sure anyone can stop Phelps at this point - he's so dominate and he's barely breathing hard after shattering world records, but it's going to be fun to watch our guy try! U-S-A!


  1. I am totally with you on this one. I get so worked up watching that it takes me an hour or so to unwind, so it has made for some late nights.

    And, don't worry. It's still fun to watch even when you don't know anybody. Although, if you told me at my sister's SEC Championship meet back in the day that I'd still be watching Dara Torres in 2008, I would have called you crazy. You never know.

  2. I was never as good as you were - but the comment about the change of rules got me thinking. I remember when I was little and the flip-turn for backstroke was a back flip. You weren't allowed to roll over on your stomach like you are now. I miss swimming, but my shoulder doesn't!

    And who knows, in 20 years you may know more Olympic swimmers through Landon!

  3. That race was ridiculous. I already knew what happened because we get it on tape delay here in LA. Boo! It's been so hard not to check the results before it comes on 3 hours later here. Even though I knew the outcome, I stared at the TV during Lezak's leg saying,"How is this possible? How does he do this?"

    And thank you for the clarification about the dolphin kick off the wall in the breaststroke. I have been screaming at the TV non-stop yelling, "Hey she just did a dolphin kick. That's illegal!!!"

    Swimming has definitely changed a lot. However I feel like maybe if I got one of those suits maybe I would have a shot. Lol

  4. garrett is the longhorn who handled the second leg of that relay!

    i know how you feel about cheering for your friends..its insane seeing garrett and thinking hmm i have so many hilarious stories from college about that crazzzy guy :))

  5. I like the title of this post- lol. It must be so cool watching people you know compete. I don't really like to watch the Olympics- not even the track event (I'm a runner)- too boring for me. But I bet knowing someone makes all the difference~!

  6. you.are.not.kidding.

    I am miserably tired and have a wicked headache from staying up till the end of the Olympic broadcast each night. But swimming and gymnastics are my favorites of the summer sports, so I can't miss them.

    I agree...Phelps is a phenomenal athlete, but he was part of a team and it was Lezan who pulled us through that last leg...amazing! I was jumping up and down and tearing-up from excitement.

    I love the Olympics.

  7. That relay was probably the first swimming event that had me screaming at the TV even though I already knew the outcome. Jason Lazek's performance was absolutely jaw-dropping. I just looked up the Swim Roster for Team USA - way to represent Longhorn Aquatic Club! (No wonder you and JP know so many people at the Games.)

    I'm so glad you're able to relax and enjoy watching your friends compete during that golden window between taking the bar and starting work. (I am ridiculously sleep-deprived from trying to fit in Olympic coverage between 11pm and 2am every night - thank goodness for Tivo!)

  8. Awesome; I was never that good either. But, I appreciate the greatness we are witnessing. Phelps is super-human, Lezak's swim was awesome, and Aaron Piersol, all the guys are slamming records right and left (women too!) This is also my last Olympics where I'll know the competitors. Being a Longhorn definitely has its perks! USA

  9. Bleary eyed poster here, having just watched something awesome (reminiscent of the Jason Lezak swim)

    Usein Bolt the Jamaican sprinter.

    Seriously, that man started cruising around the 35 meter mark, then was only loping across the line by the end of it - casual as you like and still 9.92. He was just about jogging (well the sprinter version of jogging!)

    Carl Lewis ran hard to run the same time to win the Olympic title.

    Amazing! These are great Olympics!

  10. Yay, my text made the blog! Can we just talk about the stinging eyes I have from staying up watching the women's all-around? Those two rocked it!

    Dano and I both teared every time we watched the 4x100 free! And we watched it quite a few times! :-)

    I've been crying at the stinking drop of a hat during these Olympics! I love when they show the montages of previous swims and you hear the athletes talking about what brought them here; I fall in love with their stories. I actually youtubed Ian's record breaking swim in barcelona, 2003. I'm such a summer olympics junkie. You know where I'll be at 10:10 tonight! Miss you and hope you're well!

  11. Great race! And that must be so cool to watch people you know!

    LL, I nominated you for a blog award for your honest posts about this past year. Check my blog for details!

    long time reader, infrequent poster, law school grad