Well, our everyday Olympian is doin' it. He's really doin' it! I just talked to Mark via skype. It is breakfast time in Shanghai and it is Annabelle's bedtime here. Mark is 11 hours ahead of us and it is the morning of the 100 breaststroke finals at the World Championships. I am one proud swim wife. Nervous? You're darn tootin' I was (okay, maybe I still am). I was traveling (a tour of the Midwest to see family) and was up late last night and up early this morning to tune into universalsports.com to watch Mark swim live. It was well worth the slight sleep deprivation and $9.99 fee.
Mark swam a solid prelims swim of 1.00.29--right on his best "textile" time. He went into semi-finals in 6th place. He then swam in semi-finals at a time of 1.00.19. Faster. That's good. He looked good. And is headed into finals in 6th place (Yes! 6th in the world! The whole wide world!)
What does that mean, right? "He looked good,"?
Here's what I mean. Mark was always a sprinter. It was what he was known for. He would touch the wall at the 50m ahead of his competitors and then just try to hang on for the second 50m. This sometimes didn't work. Other swimmers would gain on him causing me to go into total anxiety. In his words, it was as if "a piano dropped on his back." Well, I hated that piano and I hated having to say, "just hang on... just hang on, Marky... " as I bit my finger nails and tried to hold down lunch.
Mark has worked really hard over the last year or so to refocus his race strategy. He now not only doesn't lose ground on the second 50m, but gains it (ask Cameran Van der Burgh--if you ask me... Mark could have caught him). This is quite a switch-a-roo and a welcomed one if you ask me. So when I say, "Mark looked good," I mean, Mark looked good, strong, and consistent right till the end. According to Brett, Mark's coach with whom I was on the phone at 6am talking about Mark's race, he looked "controlled". I like that--thanks coach.
I will probably stay up late watching swimming tonight even though Mark isn't even racing till the morning because I am a self-proclaimed swim nerd. I will set my alarm for 4:50am and will watch Mark race in the morning. You may be wondering if I am nervous now. Kind of. In some ways I feel as though he has done the hard part by making the finals and that going forward is the fun stuff. But I know that Mark, though extremely proud, is gunning for a medal and a sub-1 minute swim. I know he can do it. So, yes, I'm a smidge nervous. Only because I want him to be satisfied.
Last night I said a little prayer--at one point in this long-winded prayer I asked for the following, "please give Mark the strength to face his competitors and give him peace as he races and touches the wall knowing that he has done what everything he could do." That is all I ask.
If you want to send Mark well wishes, happy (fast) thoughts, or just a big, fat, "Good luck!" you are welcome to leave a comment here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.