Hello readers! Today I have a very special surprise for you – a guest post from my bff (and mother to my homegirl Sophie), Misty. Swimmer from the way back, Misty wanted a forum to voice her love for all things Olympic. I knew just the place. Take it away, Min!
For a gal like myself, summertime always brings back my favourite things; the drive-in, camping, flip-flops and the ability to let my Mediterranean genes do their job by making my skin a lovely shade of cocoa brown. And then, every four years, putting a cherry on top of my summer, comes the Summer Olympics! Most who know me are well aware that for 2 weeks every fourth summer I become a slave to the Games. I talk about it incessantly (much to the chagrin of my poor co-workers who are chained to their desks in a small cube listening to me natter on about medal counts, world records and why Michael Phelps is a swimming God), I watch endless hours of coverage, and I basically ignore everyone around me who isn’t as engrossed as myself. As I write this post, I am simultaneously filtering through 15 hours of recorded coverage.
There isn’t much I won’t whore myself out to during these precious 2 weeks. Diving? You got it. Athletics? Only time I ever watch it on t.v. Gymnastics? Yes, and until this year, I never had a patriotic reason to. Rowing? I was screaming at the t.v. watching the Women’s 8 take a silver. This is a sport I generally have little to no interest in.
My sport of choice is, and always has been, swimming. The smell of the Brock Aquatic Centre still makes me feel like I’m home. Now, I was no phenom, but I had a passion for this sport much like any other kid out there trying to make it to the big show. Nothing makes me feel more like myself than being in a pool, feeling my hands slice through the water. Watching the Olympics was a way for me to visualize my goals by watching other people prove you CAN do amazing things. It makes me so proud to be Canadian when watching the Games because while we don’t always win (the Summer Games are clearly not our comfort zone), I always find that we are one of the few countries that always looks truly happy to just be there not finishing last.
Now, say what you want about my sport of choice, but swimming produces some seriously hard bodies. A massive perk to spending your formative years in a pool is getting to spend your days hanging with boys. Shirtless boys. In bathing suits; more specifically, the always controversial Speedo. Now, Speedos are not the norm for racing these days, what with all the wonderful advances in science, most wear something that resembles a pair of Spanx. But back in my glory days, the Speedo was everywhere, and not always where you wanted to see it. I was 13, swimming with 13 yr old boys so they did not look like this:
At least not until many years later. But back then, amongst the lanky and awkward, my first swim crush made an appearance. 3 time Olympic Bronze medallist, Curtis Myden. After the Barcelona Games, my room became a shrine to Myden and many of the other Canadian swimmers. He was a motivation for myself to strive for my goal: Sydney 2000. He was also easy on the eyes.
By the time Sydney rolled around, I was no longer competing, but still crushing hard on my man Myden. But, like the Olympic whore I am, my interest made a rapid shift towards the Aussie swimming sensation (and seriously hard body) Ian Thorpe, the ‘Thorpedo’. I had never watched such an exciting swimmer. It seemed like he was the perfect specimen, with his 6’5, 220 frame and flippers for feet. He was genetically engineered for this sport. And again, not hard on the eyes. Four years later, he was my focus in Greece.
Enter a less attractive, but clearly superior specimen: Michael Phelps. While he didn’t make me a-flutter like my previous 2 crushes, this guy is the real deal. If determination, raw talent and ambition are your thing, then Mr. Phelps is your man. There is nothing hotter than a man who leads the pack and does what he tells you he will do. 8 events? Sure! And I’ll just take care of finally breaking that pesky record Spitz has had for the last 2 decades. That chick from Russia has 17 Olympic medals? Guess what, now I have 22 (18 Gold, natch.). The man is a legend, and obviously, not just in the swimming world. He is counted among the greatest athletes that have ever lived, and might rival a few for the top spot. Watching him swim is inspiring and makes me feel like my 13 yr old self again picturing what it would be like to stand on that podium and hear ‘Oh Canada’ play for my success. He doesn’t represent my country, but he represents what the Olympics has always been about for me. Exceeding expectations. Pushing your body to a limit you never think it can reach. Showing the world that talent can be displayed without a million dollar signing bonus. Pride in yourself and your country. Not bad things for a youngster to strive for.
Throughout this year’s Games, I have tried to get Sophie excited about it too. It makes my heart melt watching her cheer on her country with such unabashed pride. She really loves to swim, and while I don’t really believe in pushing kids into sports they don’t want to be in, a part of me does hope she finds the same joy in it as I do. Besides, what mother wouldn’t be proud of this?
It was a great summer boys. See you in Rio…