Friday, August 15. 2008
Itís Friday night in Beijing and weíre less than a week away from race day (Thursday morning the 21st). My wife Diana, accompanied by my brother Paul and sister-in-law Anna, will be departing LAX on a red eye very early Saturday. My parents, with my sister Kara, lifelong family friend Dave Thoreson and my coach Gregg Wilson will be leaving out of SFO later in the same day.
Thereíve been quite a few significant moments in my Olympic experience thus far, but theyíve been enjoyed without those that I hold most dear. Iím ready to share the remainder of the experience with the people that have made tons of sacrifices in their personal lives to make this Olympic dream possible.
Significant among those making sacrifices is my wife Diana who, amongst other things, orchestrates the daily happenings of our lives with sensitive care to my swimming schedule. If you donít know a dedicated swimmer Iíll inform you of a little insider information right now - living with one can be very demanding. An unassuming bride 5 years ago, Diana married me and got my lifestyle, and sheís done it all with a beautiful smile.
Also, my parents, who have been tremendously supportive over the years. My mom was so nervous in both Fort Myers and Seville that she couldnít watch either race. That may sound silly at first, but itís completely understandable when you remember that between my dadís decathlon career and my swimming career she had to endure 6 Olympic Trials of heartbreak before experiencing the other side.
Now, before I get all weepy, lets move on to the main event.
10K pre-race analysis. Iím currently ranked 7th in the world.
First, the good news.
My learning curve over the past year has been enormous, and in terms of tactics and strategy I donít think anyone has an advantage over me. The water is going to be a very hot 84 degrees, which plays to my advantage. Iíve never worn a full body suit, but many of the swimmers in the race have grown accustomed to the full body suit and those swimmers will have to make the choice: go with the full body suit they usually race in, or go with a smaller suit that wonít make them overheat. Body temperature is going to play a huge part in the race.
Now, the bad news. Everyone else is really fast and itís going to take the swim of my life to win a medal. Here are the significant contenders that Iím going to have to take down.
1. Vladimir Dyachin is brilliant and fast. Heís the Russian World Champion and he will swim a nearly perfect race.
2. David Davies, from Great Britain, got second at the World Championships, heís very fast and his learning curve is about a great as mine.
3. Thomas Lurz, from Germany, is also highly intelligent and also very fast. The guy is legitimate.
Now for the news that is neither good nor bad.
Everyone in the top 10 is pretty much equally fit, so thatís a draw. The variables of the Olympics could determine everything: who ate what in the week before the race, who stayed focused in training, and who will get nervous before the race. And, significantly, who will make a mistake in the race. Thereís always mistakes made in a race, it could be any of us, and thereís no way to tell who is going to be kicking themselves afterwards.
This is the second to last post until after the race.
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