Brett Hawke's Olympic Blog - Last Day of Swimming
July 20, 2012
Saturday, Aug. 4 / Arianna Makes History
Arianna swam her way into the Bahamas history books by becoming the first swimmer in history to make it through to an Olympic final. Tonight, on the last night of swimming, Arianna put all those years of sacrifice and hard work on display when she proudly finished 8th in the final of the 50m freestyle. Tonight was her toughest test as she came up against seasoned veterans who have been competing at this level for many years. She did everybody proud with the way she battled through the rounds.
Her parents were in the front row to watch their daughter perform at the peak of her current potential, they must have been going crazy watching!
And with that we conclude the Olympic swimming competition for us, the Bahamas and Auburn university.
Today also marked the end for the greatest Olympic athlete of all-time, Michael Phelps! I personally shook his hand and told him I will miss him. What an outstanding athlete, the likes of which we may never see again!
Thank you to everybody! I'm now on my way to Spain for a few days off with my wife!
Wednesday, Aug. 1 / RACE DAY
Arianna came out this morning and set the world on fire, setting a new PR of 53.7 and becoming the first Bahamian in swimming to advance to the semifinal rounds of the Olympic games. A massive achievement! They say that only 20 percent of athletes actually do their best time at the Olympics, so she is beating the odds all over the place.
Coming back at night and missing the final by two places is disappointing. Not because I didn't think she gave it everything she had, only because she came so close. I know she is good enough to be in that final, but now we will have to wait two more days for another chance. There is a fine line in athletic performance between amazing and gut wrenching, as we are seeing in every race at the Olympic pool in 2012. However, we are here competing and giving our level best to represent all the people around the world who will never get the chance to experience an Olympic games. Arianna will not stop fighting because she knows how much it means to so many people!
Thank you ALL for your love and support. We can hear you screaming through the TV!
Monday, July 30 / Sightseeing
This morning Arianna did a full dress rehearsal again for her race in two days. This time it was in the Olympic pool. She is looking fast in the pool, and sounding fast out of it. Quick tongued and full of energy. This horse is ready to gallop!
We spent the day sight seeing (Arianna stayed in the village), and we got around to some of the big ones. Actually, Big Ben was on our list of stops. First up was tower bridge with the Olympic rings hanging from the top. Very photogenic bridge! Then we went to tower castle that was built some time in the 1300's. They executed some 130 odd people there in its time and was the home of many kings of England.
We then hit Big Ben and the London eye before settling in to some nice French food at a bakery we found. Lionel couldn't walk past it without his mouth watering, so I did what any friend would do and stopped for some French baked goods. Very nice!
In the afternoon we got a workout in at the village gym before heading back to the pool for finals. Another crazy night!
1 more day of waiting till we get a chance of our own!
Saturday, July 28 / First Day of Swimming
Unfortunately for the opening ceremony there are already so many people in the stadium that they limit the amount of tickets for support staff, so naturally I moved aside for those people who were born and bred in the Bahamas. Anyway, this is my fourth Olympics and I didn't really need to be at another opening ceremony.
Today however was jam-packed! The swimming began finally, and what an exciting first day. After an easy swim this morning for Arianna we decided to head back early to the village and catch the end of the swimming before lunch. It just so happened that the Queen of England wanted to visit the athlete dining hall at the same time that we got back to the village. It was crazy! People jumping on tables and crowds of athletes swarming her like bees! I managed to get off a few photos, even though she stands at around 5 feet only. That was the excitement for the morning.
We went back in the afternoon for a longer swim before the madness of the first night of finals kicked off. Crazy first event! Lochte and Phelps look like they are going to go after each other all week. Strange when you see them eat lunch together everyday, but I guess that's what makes them great teammates, they leave it in the pool.
Lots of AU swimmers going in the morning so I'll call that a night!
Thursday, July 26 / DAY 9
Lionel Moreau, my college roommate and Auburn alum, joined the team to help Arianna with her preparations. So today she received her first massage. Lionel knows how to work the mess out of any tight, stiff body. It's not your usual candles and flute music type of thing, he digs in deep to get her feeling loose and ready to race.
In the afternoon we had another function at Bahamas house, this time with the governor general of the Bahamas. Another great event with lots of smiles and great food. I had the rice and peas with ox tail. I also met a man, Richard Moir, who told me he reads my blog so I thought I would give a shout out!
Out front the boys on the team ran into Bill Gates who just happened to be walking by with his wife, no bodyguards! I tried to take a photo with my iPhone but he quickly took off when he saw the apple sign on my phone!
Back in the village for a late night snack and I ran into Kobe, Lebron, and the rest of he U.S. basketball team (dream team?). Cool guys without bodyguards either, so awesome to see! They were taking photos and eating McDonald's just like the other athletes.
Busy day, but nothing like tomorrow with the opening ceremony!!!
Wednesday, July 25 / DAY 8
Next stop was the Olympic training venue. Photos or words don't really do this place justice, you have to see it to believe it. Three Olympic size pools under one roof all side by side. Along with two other short course pools next to them. Just an amazing sight to see. And this morning Arianna and I had the whole place to ourselves. I guess everybody else was sleeping in. Anyway she looked as fast as I've ever seen her swim. This is starting to sound like she is ready!
In the afternoon we had a function at the Bahamas house in downtown London, for one of the Bahamas Olympic committee's major sponsors. It was a really nice event, even if we did have to cancel afternoon practice for it.
Time for bed, goodnight!
Tuesday, July 24 / DAY 7
First off it was one of the hottest days in years for England, not a cloud in the sky. And because it's never really hot in London, there is no air conditioning anywhere, and that can be a problem when moving pounds of luggage from bus, through security, back on bus, through more security, and then into your room. Working up a sweat!
We then decided, to cool down, we would head straight to the Olympic pool, but when we got there they told us it was closed for synchronized swimming. Are you kidding me? Olympic pool closed at the Olympics? The temperature just went up a little!
Ok, move on. So then just as we get back to the village to change buses for the training pool venue, Arianna tells me she must have left her phone on the bus. Slight panic! To her credit she remained very calm as we searched every bus that circled back around the village, but no phone.
So we walk but to our rooms and she txt's me to tell me she found the phone in the bottom of her bag. Thank you!
After a quick Bahamas team meeting we went back to the pool and we were all smiles. No more drama. See, even when things aren't going your way the world has a funny way of working itself out!
Arianna agreed to leave her phone in her room from now on.
For the rest of the day it was great catching up with friends and all the other Auburn athletes here at the Olympics.
I finished off the day reading Psalm 23.
Monday, July 23 // DAY 6
Arianna spent about 30 min talking to kids and signing autographs for them. She also had time to get a photo with former high jump world champion, Donald Thomas. Such a really nice way to send the team off to London tomorrow. The locals were very friendly and had many great questions to ask of the athletes.
It was another beautiful day, with not a cloud in the sky all day. I hope this lasts for the next two weeks.
We did have a double (workout) to do today, so Arianna was back in the pool in the afternoon. The purpose of this workout was to get the heart pumping a little, so we did some descending efforts just to give a little redness in the face. This lets the body know it still needs to be ready for action when called on in a week or so.
Off to bed in anticipation of a big day tomorrow! Olympic village here we come!
Sunday, July 22 / DAY 5
We decided to sleep in Sunday, but we both got up at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast. Ok...yes then we went back to bed. I can't help but fall into the same habits as Arianna. If she eats, I eat. If she sleeps, I sleep. I feel really connected to my athletes when I think like they think. I know it's weird but it works for me.
For lunch we decided to get out, so we tracked down a little town around 15 minutes away and had a Sunday roast (picture supplied). Man it reminds me of growing up in Australia!
In the afternoon we went back to the pool for a dip and sauna, just for a recovery and to keep the body fresh.
It was a beautiful day in London with the peaking temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (around 75 degrees fahrenheit). It's said to be the same for the whole of next week!
Saturday, July 21 // DAY 4
After practice this morning we headed off to a pub for lunch. In England it's called "the local", meaning there is a pub on every corner, and they all serve great comfort food. Today Arianna chose the Welsh dragon, which was a spicy sausage on a sandwich. Very yummy by all accounts! I chose the liver and bacon, over mash potatoes, peas and gravy. A very traditional English meal. It was delicious!
After that we stopped off at the store for some chocolates. The hard working ladies back at the office in Auburn were asking for some Cadbury dairy milk (world famous!), so I delivered! This one's for you Dody, Beverley and Deb.
It wasn't all about eating today, we still had a big workout to do this afternoon. Arianna did a full dress rehearsal for the games. She executed her pre-race warmup, went through some mental imagery, put on her race suit and did a broken 100m race.
Everything was the same as it would be for her race in 10 days (except for the competition) we videoed her swim just to put some added pressure on it, and she knocked it out of he park! We may be small (in number) but we are coming big!
I think the confidence I see in Donald Thomas, an ex-Auburn track athlete and fellow member of team Bahamas, is really rubbing off on Arianna. Donald looks so confident right now and his energy is infectious. I'm glad we are in camp with the rest of team Bahamas!
Friday, July 20 // DAY 3
We then decided to take a day trip into London to get our thoughts off performance. We had in mind just getting off the train at London bridge, but a nice chap (say that with a British accent) told us we were better off heading into downtown where Buckingham palace is, so we took his advice.
It just so happened that we arrived at the precise time of the changing of the guard which takes place at 11:30 each day. Something of a spectacle really, more like a halftime production with marching and yelling, with trumpets and horns, they really turn it on for the crowd.
After that we decided to head up to Churchill's underground war room from World War 2. Here you could walk through his bunker, which has been left exactly the way it was when he battled Hitler and brought a nation back from the brink of destruction. Amazing experience!
Then, on Arianna's request, we took a black cab to the theater to watch the new Batman movie, which is excellent!
We did however hear the news of the tragedy in Colorado and that really gave us heavy hearts for the rest of the day. We are praying for all the families affected.
Thursday, July 19 / DAY 2 IN LONDON
She only has 4 gym workouts left so each one must count now. All of her strength has been gained, now all we are doing is maintaining. It's still funny to watch the expression on people's faces when Arianna is doing pull-ups. Because she is at maximum strength and it isn't hard for her to hit 15-20 pull-ups quite comfortably, and that gets everybody staring!
The pool workout followed, which consisted of burning the legs a little this morning. After a long flight it's normal to feel heavy in the legs for a few days, so giving them a little burn makes them come around quicker. By this I mean we did a strong kick set in the pool, I don't actually set her on fire...
The rest of the day consisted of resting, then a little shopping, and back for another pool workout around 6 p.m. Two pool workouts today should be enough to ensure a good night's sleep!
Tomorrow we take a trip into downtown London to watch the new Batman movie on IMAX, and Arianna is dying to take a black cab (photo to come).
Tuesday, July 17 / Wednesday, July 18 // TRAVEL DAY
We landed in London around 11 a.m., and spent 45 min. in a taxi traveling to our pre-Olympic camp in Sussex. We met up with a few other members of the Bahamas track team, who are attending the same camp, for lunch and then headed into the training pool for our first workout. No time to rest, we had work to do!
The first session went well, with Arianna swimming a few thousand meters of light swimming with a few speed drills mixed in. The first workout after a long flight just needs to be light, and this one did the trick.
Now it's just fighting off the jet-lag to stay awake. The worst thing is waking up at 3a.m. on the first night!
Goodnight! War Eagle!
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