Thursday, April 17, 2014

Olympic dreams

Swimming enthusiasm reached a fever pitch this spring when Tori traveled to London and competed in the 2012 Olympic Pool! We recently traveled to London for the ISST Swimming Championship, an end of season meet for fourteen international schools. With teams coming from as far away as Cairo, the atmosphere of the meet was electric with pool side drums and cheers and lots of fantastic swims.
The logistics of this meet were a bit crazed. Our team flew into London, were met by a small bus and then taken out to one of the international schools hosting the meet. From there our swimmers broke into groups of two and went off to house with local families. The kids do this at every sporting event. At first it seemed odd to me but folks here really believe this cultural exchange is integral to the international school experience. After housing many kids at our home, I am starting to agree. I still don’t like sending Tori to an unknown family’s house before a meet and having no control over food or bed time but she loves it. She tells us about their lives and compares it to our own. Of course, commutes in London are much longer than ours in Munich, and we all came home swearing to never complain about our time in the car again. So the swimmers travelled from their host family to the school each morning, early. From the school, the kids took a two hour bus with us coaches to the Olympic Pool. And at the end of each day, we did it all again.
 It was a long way to go for sure but ultimately worth it. Don’t forget this is the pool where Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps did their thing just two years ago. For the event, we bought a new suit; a fast skin suit, Tori’s first ever. She definitely looked like the real deal on the blocks. She swam fast too, setting a school record in the breast stroke. It was a great way to end a successful season. Tori’s enormous smile as she exited the pool was fantastic, something I will always remember. Maybe more so than the swim itself, which I was too nervous to watch in its entirety!
While the meet went on, British bronze medalist Tom Daley arrived at the pool and practiced his dives in the diving well, just behind the competition pool we were using.  As he practiced, a large group of swimmers went over to watch him. Staff then roped off a large section of the deck to give Daley some privacy. The way the pool was roped off meant that our swimmers had to check in at the clerk of course and then walk all the way around the fifty meter pool to the staging area for their races. Without the ropes, the walk would have been 1 minute. With the ropes, the walk was 5 minutes. We feel our swimmers are elite, making the time qualifications for this meet, and they are. But then there are the many levels of elite between our kids and the Olympic diver.  Needless to say, our kids walked the extra bit.


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