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Olympic Records

I'm well off my record time of 38 seconds set back at the 2004 Olympics. I was at 54 seconds today. But in a sport with only 1 participant worldwide, I guess I can afford to be a little off my pace. Which sport am I referring to? Why Olympic Men's Showering of course. Strictly a timed event. It's me against the clock, as it should be. No judges giving ambiguous marks for tie breakers as in Women's gymnastics. Time starts once you set foot in the shower and does not stop until you have successfully soaped your entire skin surface including your face and shampooed your hair and rinsed completely. I suppose you could get extra points if you managed to also shave in the shower though not everyone does that. I adopted a controversial technique 4 years ago of using a homemade sweetgrass soap bar rather than bottled shampoo for my hair. The lead judge allowed it though. Again, given I am the only contestant probably had something to do with it. I figure I'm shaving valuable seconds off my time not having to pop open a shampoo bottle. The trick is to jump directly into the shower stream getting completely wet at once. Rookies to the sport might make the error of waiting until shampoo time to get the hair wet. But this way, I'm able to use the ancient Buddhist two handed method and soap up while shampooing. It takes lots of coordination and concentration but it is possible and once mastered, makes all the difference.

My mistake this morning was in dropping the shampoo bar mid-sudsing. I tried to overcome with what was already in my hair but it was not to be enough and I lost time in trying to retrieve the bar. Oh well, 54 seconds is a good qualifying time. Tomorrow are the quarter finals and I feel certain I can at least make it to the semi finals. 38 seconds seems impossible now, but I know I can beat it.

Seriously, how much would it suck to be at the top of your sport and tie your opponent only to have the tie breaker decided not on your actual merits as an athlete but at the subjective judgement of an inexperienced judge?

I'm so glad I was a competitive swimmer in my youth and not a gymnast. I was thrilled to see Michael Phelps set all his records and to realize he still has his whole life in front of him. The test now is to see how long he can fight off all the challengers to his records. That's the mark of a champion. As we've seen so far these games, records are set only to be broken in the next heat of competition.

I was never a really fast swimmer. I won enough races in 4 years to know what it was like to win. I beat my own times by several seconds. I went to the Junior Olympics once but at 17 years old, the peak of my athletic career, I was nowhere near qualifying for an Olympic team. Worse, I knew it, so the drive was never really there to try for anything but beating my own times. I lettered in Swimming in High School though it was on a municipal team. The High School had provisions for that if the work you did on an outside team was comparable to the requirements the in-school teams had. You just didn't get any respect from other kinds of athletes. Still, I was in a lot better shape as a swimmer at 17 than many high school football players are in their whole tenure. You wouldn't know it to see me now.

But Olympic swimming is the one sport besides college basketball I'll willingly sit down to watch. What Olympic Champions like Michael Phelps do more than anything is to inspire people to set goals and stay in shape. In my day, it was Rowdy Gaines. In fact, our coach made us read this book he had co-written about Psychology for Swimmers. And we did all the same isometric exercises that he did. And ran and swam and lifted weights at ridiculous hours in the morning. I can remember my hair actually freezing to my head at the bus stop because it was still wet from morning practice.

I was never going to go to an Olympics to compete but I swam with people who had that potential. My buddy Eric Franklin set some Virginia State records. I'd imagine by the time we were competing, he was already too old to really be in contention for something like the Olympics. But his younger twins, Steve and Chris might have been in that league. There were these two twin brothers, Scott and Steve Roessler who held national records and were probably the caliber of athletes to have made an Olympic team. At least one of them went to college on a swimming scholarship. I don't know if either ever made it to the Olympics. But practicing with and being around those people and being at meets where records were broken was pretty heady stuff all on it's own.

Athletes have a real potential. Not just to bring back Olympic glory for their home countries. I could really care less if the US gets more medals than anyone else. Their true potential lies in inspiring others to keep in shape and set goals to further their own lives.

Me, I'm just aiming for that 38 second record and hoping that one day, someone else will be inspired to go for the gold against me!




( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
Still, I was in a lot better shape as a swimmer at 17 than many high school football players are in their whole tenure. You wouldn't know it to see me now.

LOL my husband swam in high school and set a few records and I could say the same about him! He still has the shoulders though!

I could really care less if the US gets more medals than anyone else. Their true potential lies in inspiring others to keep in shape and set goals to further their own lives.

I agree - I wish they wouldn't carry on like winning a silver is some kind of shameful thing. It is still an accomplishment that most people will never reach!
Aug. 19th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Hell, getting into the Olympics is no slouch accomplishment. But people get focused on the medals. I love seeing the little tiny countries, that no one has ever heard of compete.

My friend Eric was practicing again at the pool we used to swim in some years back. I went down to practice with him one day, just to see if I could still do it. I made it through but threw up afterwards and that was only about 12 years after my swimming days. I'd hate to see what I'd be like now.

Aug. 19th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Tom's daughters were swimmers also - a few years back he was still able to keep ahead of them but it sure took a lot more effort! I congratulate all y'all - I cant swim like that for anything!
Aug. 19th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
Showering in 38 seconds? I smell doping! Urine test!
Aug. 19th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
That was back when I was in training. I've not trained for years now. About the only drug in my system was alcohol and I believe that would have the opposite effect.

Aug. 20th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
30 seconds dude...
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
I'm going to try and break 45 in the morning. We'll see what happens from there. I may need video proof.

Aug. 20th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC)
I think you could edit this and pitch it as a short story somewhere.
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about pitching it to a newspaper or something like that.

Aug. 20th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
Did cutting your hair help your time? Do you think that'll give you the extra advantage you need when you go for the record books?
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
When I set the 38 second record, I had long hair so I'd imagine short hair could only help. But I'm not the youngster I was back then and early 40's is probably the outside extreme for athletes of this type. I doubt I'll be competing in the next Olympics. It's definitely a sport for younger contestants.

Aug. 20th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Olympic showering? Hmm. That could be useful here in New Mexico, given the limit water resources (even if it has been an unusually green and rainy monsoon season). I'm more competitive in the paper airplane throw event, however. Seriously though, I'm in considerably better shape now, at nearly 40, that I was when I was in high school and college - and I was kicking for three competitive soccer teams back then

As for Michael Phelps... I'm certainly happy for him. His is quite an accomplishment. I was more excited, though, to learn that the U.S. women's fencing team are bringing home all three medals in the individual saber event.
Aug. 20th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I really like finding out that people excel in little watched sports. I was hearing about the Men's Air Rifle team getting a Bronze yesterday. That's really cool stuff.

I'm certainly bigger than I was in high school. Actually I weigh twice as much which wouldn't be so bad if it was muscle. So If I can just lose about 50 pounds and keep it off, I'll be doing pretty good and can maybe get back in the pool again for a Master's league.

The speed showering skills were actually honed in NM when I lived in a box car with no running water. Freezing well water or the Cimarron River promote fast bathing. It was either that or the occasional sweat lodge.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )