Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Old Man River did it again...

We're in. Mark swam the 100 meter breaststroke finals last night. He was second which earned him a spot on the Pan Pacific Games team. He will now stay in Irvine for the next three weeks to train and race. I will leave tomorrow morning to go back home, back to work and back to the baby for the next two weeks. I will then fly back out to Irvine (baby in tow) to cheer for Mark from the bleachers at Pan Pacs.

It is very rare that a big international competition like the Pan Pacific Games is in the U.S. This is why Annabelle's and my attendance is a must. Typically 24 hours after Mark qualifies for a big meet we are checking bank accounts, credit card balances and schedules to see if an international trip for me is possible. Typically it is not and I end up watching from the computer at 3 in the morning due to the time difference.

Not this time. This time Annabelle and I will be there, in the flesh, cheering for him.

Yesterday was similar to most race days. Mark swam in the prelims in the morning. He went a 1.01.2. Decent for a “morning swim” (a 'morning swim' is a luxury really fast swimmers have... it means that you don't have to "go" 100% and still make it back to the finals). "Morning swims" for swim wives is miserable. You're not sure how hard he is really trying or how hard anyone else was going.

Then, the rest of the day is waiting...

All day at the meet people tell me to "relax." I am convinced that they do this for their own benefit. Yes, I am nervous, but I will be fine. Mark will be fine. I am an insider. I know how he feels... it is YOU (people in the stands) that don’t understand. You make me more nervous.

After the prelims I am officially banished from the hotel room so that Mark can spit, scratch, nap and whatever else he does to prepare himself for the finals. Yesterday I sat outside all afternoon only to get a sunburn on the tops of my feet in the shape of my flip flops.

When I received the text message (3 hours later), "You can come back now," I made my way back up to the room. Mark was getting ready to go, packing his bag, and mixing his shake. .

Once we made it through traffic on the 405 I was on official coffee fetching duty. So, I dropped Mark off at the gate and rushed to the coffee shop down the street for Mark's coffee (plus an extra shot of espresso). I delivered it to Mark about an hour before start time and then made my way to the stands.

I stood by myself at the top of the bleachers (when I say bleachers, I mean bleachers that seat thousands of people). I cannot sit next to anyone while Mark is racing. Oh, who am I fooling? I cannot sit while Mark is racing. So, I pace at the top of the bleachers.

Mark raced.

I brought along the Flip video camera in hopes that I would feel good enough to tape Mark’s race. What a joke. No way… I could hardly watch. After the race I was relieved, happy, and proud and could then start to chit chat with friends and other swimming folks.

His performance earned him a spot on the Pan Pacs team and a world ranking of 6th. At Pan Pacs he will have to defend his top two (American) finish to earn a spot on the World Championship team next summer.

It has been a big couple of days. This summer was the 12th year in a row that Mark has made the USA Swimming National Team. The youngest competitor in the meet was only 3 years old when Mark qualified for his first National Team. Way to go, Old Man River... you did it again. I couldn't be more proud.

P.S. Thanks, Tyler, for shaving Mark's back. I am thrilled that someone else got this pleasure.


  1. Congratulations!
    I'm very happy for both of you. Good luck for Pan Pac.

  2. Was this the "stipend" swim? Just wondering if this race means that stress is over for the year?
    So happy for you guys and glad you'll be there for the races, even if you are pacing : )