I have had the privilege to work with many great coaches throughout my career. The following three are most responsible for my development as an athlete.
Ron Turner was my coach at the YMCA of the Triangle and served as the catalyst for my Olympic pursuit. His knowledge and ability to execute in developing talent in our sport is extraordinary. I was so grateful Ron was able to be in the stands for the finals of my 200 Free at Olympic Trials.
I began training with Sergio Lopez at The Bolles School eight months ago. He has successfully guided his high school athletes to unbelievable performances while simultaneously guiding our professional training squad of just over a half-dozen athletes. This season, Sergio guided 4 athletes to Olympic births–two of them American. Throughout my career, I have witnessed how difficult it can be for a coach to direct both developmental groups as well as a professional squad. Sergio does it all.
I was able to learn from and swim for Sean Hutchison for a year after my collegiate career. His approach to teaching is unparalleled. I utilize what I learned from him everyday in practice. I was lucky to swim for him for that short time. You can get a glimpse of his teaching style by checking out his company, IKKOS.
Thank you Ron, Sergio, and Sean.
If you’re like me, then you know how much fun it is to capitalize on the opportunities presented to you! Although my 400 Freestyle at Olympic Trials did not go as I had hoped, I was lucky to have an equally great opportunity in the 200 Freestyle–fortunately, I capitalized on that swim!
I will be representing the United States in the 4×200 Free Relay at the London Olympics. Team USA has an exciting journey ahead of it as we travel to Knoxville for domestic camp, and then on to France before arriving in the Olympic Village. Hope to include some great pictures of the experience in the coming weeks!
In this scene in The Empire Strikes Back, we see archetypal hero Luke Skywalker attempting, and failing, to do the impossible—move his spaceship out of the swamp with “the force”. In the original Star Wars trilogy, director/producer George Lucas created a believable science-fiction world where viewers bought into the elusively abstract concept of “the force”. The “power of the force” was made evident in the hero’s ability to perform superhuman feats.
After Luke’s failed attempt with the spaceship, he slumps to the ground, dejected because the spaceship is too big to move. Yoda immediately rebukes him; delivering the famous rhetorical line, “Judge me by my size, do you?”
Yoda imparts upon young Luke that, although small and frail, he relies on a greater power. Yoda states, “My ally is the force. And a powerful ally it is.” He continues by explaining to Luke that his strength, his conviction, his confidence—all flow from this omnipresent force greater than any one person. Yoda continues, telling Luke that this power is evident in all things—Luke simply has to believe—or as Yoda says, “feel the force around you!”
Ultimately, Luke is unable to move his spaceship—not because he lacks the strength or willpower to want or try to move the ship—but because he lacks the deep seeded faith in the power that really could perform such a miracle. I understand Luke’s dismay. Often, I find myself wanting or trying to complete a task that, without any outside assistance, I know I lack the ability.
Watching this movie scene, I am reminded of Matthew’s account in the Bible that highlights Peter’s grapple with his own belief in something beyond himself—the power of his teacher, Jesus. Upon seeing Jesus walking towards the disciples’ boat, a zealous Peter calls out:
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31
No doubt Peter knew his ability to walk on the water was not of his own doing. Indeed, he was talking to and walking directly toward the one in which he had placed his faith—Jesus! I can attest to that idea—when my faith is focused on Jesus, anything is possible! But as the verse says, just as soon as Peter sees the wind and becomes afraid, he begins to sink in the water, crying out to his Savior. In one fell swoop, Peter’s faith in Jesus is seen as steadfast as he walks toward him on water, but as soon as he is encumbered by the storm around him, he loses focus on Jesus and sinks. I can certainly identify with Peter. What a pointed reminder about where we our focus is to always remain! As human beings, we all experience the cyclical pattern of our own fallen nature–remaining faithful one minute, and losing hope the next! Fortunately for us, Jesus is there to pull us up when, like Peter, we start sinking and cry out to Him–that’s grace!
…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
At the conclusion of the original Star Wars saga, Luke places his trust fully in “the power of the force”—and is able to accomplish great things. The evidence of the force is on display during the films through the accomplishments of those who believe in it. However, what “the force” actually is remains largely abstract. However, there is nothing abstract about placing one’s faith in Christ! With the Bible we have (among many other truths and promises) a clear understanding of our God, who He is, His son, and the strength we receive from Him (Isaiah 40:31, Philippians 4:13). In addition, we see God’s work and his promises through everyday living—in relationships, through His creation, and in our own hearts. With a faith built on God’s truths, I’m going to alter Yoda’s statement, and make it a daily challenge to say: My ally is Jesus. And a powerful ally He is.
Four more years have come and gone and the swimming world will be back in Omaha next week for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Additionally, our sport has taken a significant step forward this time around–every finals session will be covered live on NBC. Click here for details (NBC Schedule is EST).
I will be competing in the 400 Free as well as the 200 Free which span the first three days of the meet (6/25-6/27). I’m looking forward to a great opportunity to use the gifts I’ve been given to the fullest! Tune in to watch some great racing by our country’s best swimmers!