Where do I even begin!? Olympic Trials was a 9-day whirlwind week+ extravaganza not for the faint of swim-hearts and it was better than Christmas :) I kept VERY busy with:
- An AM/PM live show put on by USA Swimming (#DeckPassLive & #Lane9)
- Touch The Wall movie screening
- ESPN Radio
- NBC prelims coverage
- Several swim clinics
- AquaZone autograph signing & much, much more!
I have never been in one place where I knew SO MANY PEOPLE! Coming back to Omaha after the past year and a half of Touch The Wall screenings was incredible. Most people recognized me as "Kara Lynn from Touch The Wall" instead of "KLJ, 3x Olympian" and I LOVED that! It shows the incredible reach and impact our little film had on the swimming community, something I am eternally grateful for.
#DeckPassLive & #Lane9
This was my first ever opportunity to be on the "other side of the mic" and speak on the subject I know more about than anything else: swimming :) We recorded 16 shows with Kaitlin Sandeno and Ari Kukors as hosts and me as the swim expert. I won't lie, I was definitely nervous to start out but after the first day, we already started hitting our groove and the show flowed better and better each time we went live. I had such a blast giving the prelims preview about who to watch, who's hot, who's cold, what was the word on deck and what was happening behind the scenes, and then the finals recap on who made the team (!!) and who is leaving with a broken heart. You can catch all of our shows here Deck Pass Live and here Lane 9
Watching My Races
I watched every single session with a combination of chill as well as tears of joy and tears of sadness. I have come in 1st place, 2nd place (twice), 5th place, 7th place (twice), 8th place, 22nd place and 75th place respectively at this meet so I am very well versed on all the emotions on deck. I made it through two of my previous races (women's 200 FR & women's 100 FR) with no problem - excited, happy and PROUD of what Team USA was putting together for Rio. Then came the women's 50 free. I have competed in the 50 free in the last 3 Olympic Games, a feat no other US woman has done. I consider this race my baby - my first Trials cut, my first American Record, my NCAA titles, all of it. The 50 free is mine. I watched Abby Wentzel and Simone Manuel blow away my previous best times with ease and I was shocked at the tears welling up in my eyes. Not because I wished I was in the race (no, not at all) but because this moment was me officially turning over my baby to new and capable hands. The US is sending our team to the Olympics and for the first time in 16 years, I won't be there and I won't be swimming the 50 free. I am absolutely PROUD of these women and what they bring to the scene in the women's sprint events and I felt closure that I didn't even know I needed in terms of my Olympic journey. As I continue to build my career post-swimming, this closure was exactly what I needed.
One of my favorite things about being at trials, aside from all the crazy fast swimming, was seeing all of my friends/former teammates. I was a swimmer for 21 years, lived all over the country, swam for several different teams and because of that I have so many friends in the sport. I got to hang with former teammates, relive old memories and make new ones. I love the community that swimming brings together, it's so tight knit and always brings people back together for their shared love of this sport.
I look forward to watching the Olympics in the next few weeks from the other side. I love how active our team is on social media and how they are engaging the fans in every part of this journey. I hope they remember it all, the trips in the van, the uniforming, the village, the food, the dorms, all the eyes of the world on them here in this moment.
More updates to come :) GO USA!