I am sure most all of you have seen the P&G thank you mom commercials and most of you choke up when you see it (don't lie! you know you do). I have to admit they tug my heart strings and it got me thinking about my swimming career and all my mom had sacrificed to get me to and from practice and meets, not mention dealing with an overly emotional teenager (remember the bipolar thing), and getting us through all the Navy moves. I was never an Olympian, but I did accomplish a thing or two over my swim career.
My mom was the one who got my sister and I into swimming, thinking it would be a "cheap" sport. So we started swimming when we were stationed in Ohio with the WTRC sharks. My very first meet was the 1992 WTRC fall invite and I remember my mom having to explain to me that just because I had a heat winner ribbon from my 25 free (big sprinter!), I did not win the event. Knowing me, I probably was too stubborn to accept that fact. Regardless, I was hooked and the swimming journey began.
From Ohio, we went to Pt. Mugu, CA and then to Gaithersburg, MD. When were in MD, swimming got serious. Mom would wake us up for morning (345 am on Friday's for Olney distance workouts!) practice and truck us to afternoons after school. From MD we moved to Ridgecrest, CA and began my awesome teenage years. How she put up with my attitude at meets and towards swimming in general, I really don't know. By my senior year, I began to calm a bit (only a bit though) and was able to pull my head out of my ass enough to know I wanted to swim in college. So on I went to UNLV where I struggled my first few years (with back issues and just being an asshole), but my parents (they moved to Vegas too) still came to all my duel meets and conference champs, even though I was not swimming to my expectations. Point is my mom still put up with my attitude problems. Somehow, something magical happened and I learned how to enjoy swimming. I dropped a minute in my mile in my junior year alone. My mom came with me to all my summer meets and played "swim mom" to those of us who stayed over the summer. She drove us there and cheered while sitting in 100+ degree Bakersfield heat. It was at that meet that I won my first "real" championship mile race, after a week of bitching to her about how bad I was doing. I think she knew something special was going to happen during my senior year the way she put up with me.
Through my senior year of college, my parents still came to every home duel meet. They picked me up from the airport when I got a horrible case of stomach flu at our Wyoming/Airforce duel weekend. She always had food for me when I would get home from my long days of school/workouts. Eventually, it all had to come to an end. The week of my last conference meet, I was a nervous wreck. I am sure I was super pleasant to be around. The point is, she was there during my first race and during my last race of my career (ok, so were my sister and dad :)). She got to see me go from little 8 year old to conference champion in the 1650. I got to share that moment with not only my teammates, but my parents and sister. I got to run up into the stands and cry with them because they knew how much I struggled (mentally and physically) throughout my career. Despite everything I put my parents through, they stuck with me and I have to say thank you mom and dad and Kari. I wouldn't have had that moment if it weren't for you guys.