Archive for category Swimming
This column ran in the fall issue of Heart Beat of the Texas Hill Country.
This year’s Olympics in Rio had special meaning for me. How exciting to cheer for and see someone on the medal podium I knew! The last time I saw Katie Meili was the day after Christmas, 2014. We rang the doorbell and were greeted by Karen my friend from Delta, and Rio the chocolate lab rescue dog. Responding to Karen’s sweeping arm motion that the door was not for him, Rio retreated to a room with the lit tree and evidence of a family Christmas still under it. Karen’s daughter, Katie appeared — a slender, beautiful young woman with big brown eyes. She certainly wasn’t the little girl that I remembered from my airlines days with her mom.
It was her older sister’s fault that Katie got involved in swimming. Maureen broke her ankle on the trampoline she had for gymnastics. First came a cast and then the orthopedic specialist suggested joining a swimming team for her rehabilitation. Karen was relieved; swimming was a much safer sport. Typical of younger siblings, Katie tagged along – she wanted to do anything Maureen did! Katie proved to be a natural once she got the hang of swimming. And with her ability, came classes and lots of hours of practice. Karen chimed in, “Remember the place that wanted you there for 5:30am swim classes?!?!?” She quickly followed with, “Oh sorry, this is your interview…” Katie smiled at the woman she knew had made lots of monetary and career sacrifices to help her “Dream big… Execute well. “
The Columbia graduate who sat across the table from me was now a professional swimmer. Her goal was to be in Rio in 2016, but that was a year and half away and she knew from experience, things can happen to delay a goal. Fate had already stepped in right before the 2012 Olympic Trials. During warmups while pushing off the wall, her hand got caught on another swimmer. “I think I hurt my hand.” Sure enough, x-rays showed the bone had snapped. Katie displayed her right hand and described a piece inside. I held up my left arm with my Titanium rod showing through. I knew without asking — there had been no London Olympics for Katie.
Katie’s face lit up when I asked about her college years. “Columbia – I wanted East Coast. It was a small school in a big city! “ Ivy League, just like her dad who went to Dartmouth. She majored in Psychology and of course made her mark with swimming. After graduating in 2013, she was invited to North Carolina to train at SwimMAC with David Marsh. Once getting settled in, she worked part-time for Direct ChassisLink, Inc. who currently sponsors her.
The pool where she practices is also where NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson swims. “Really?!?” This racing enthusiast wanted more details. “He swims with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am in awe of him,” she responded. NASCAR sharing the same turf as some of the most elite swimmers in the world! “You like any other sports?” I asked. “I like the Cowboys and Mavs…. and I’m a HUGE Red Sox fan.” Bingo! Sox are my team too. We shared high fives.
Fast forward to 2016. Katie has been travelling the world competing as a pro– winning titles and setting a record or two. I had lunch with Karen in July. Olympics Trials for Rio were coming up. “I think she has a shot to make it,” Karen whispered. Days later the text, “She made it!!” And boy did she ever!! I loved the media hype at Rio about the swimmer named Meili. “Where did she come from?” they were writing and saying. They found out soon with the 100m Breaststroke. In prelims, Katie tagged the wall right after Lilly King, also on the USA team. In the finals, Katie was edged out nineteenth hundreds of a second by silver medalist, Yulia Efimova. The Russian had previously failed two drug tests – don’t get me started!!
Yes … the family dog, a chocolate lab named Rio and Katie Meili with an Olympic Bronze medal draped around her neck in Rio. It’s only fitting.
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My article below appeared in the August issue of Hill Country Happenings. Click here for more articles and information about happenings in the Texas Hill Country.
July and August are truly the dog days of summer. According to my Yahoo search, the phrase comes from “the Dog Star, Sirius, which is part of the constellation Canis Major. Each summer between July and August the constellation appears in the northern hemisphere during what is usually the hottest time of the season.” What better time to attack the temperatures than to delve into the sport of swimming. Cool, refreshing and fun — especially with one’s canines!
The day we booked our reservations, the temperatures had dropped from over a hundred to a pleasant eighty-two degrees. Roxie and Rex felt the excitement in the air as we loaded the car with towels, water shoes, toys and finally, them. The dogs knew something was happening other than the usual “Ride in the Car.” As we bumped down the dusty dirt road at the American Pet Spa and Resort, interesting sights and smells were being experienced by our Boxers. Confusion prevailed in the back seat as the dogs bustled from window to window. So much to see! We passed by a horse rescue corral, a swimming pool, an area of Old West style buildings, parks, and a pond with geese. Upon leaving the car, Rex found himself nose to nose with a wooden dog statue. He sniffed and pawed at it. No response. With a look saying, “Quit wasting our time,” mature Roxie disowned Rex and went into the building.
After checking in, we were escorted to a fenced-in pool area which also contained a glider with a canopy top, a pile of towels and a canvas bag full of toys. So much for coming prepared; blame the Girl Scout in me. The pool had a gradual slope at one end to wade in while the “deep-end” was a comfortable three to four feet. Rick and I jumped in! We splashed around and looked out of the pool. Both dogs were looking at us as if to say, “Uh… that’s water…we’ll get wet…no thank you…” For the first five minutes, not even a rubber ducky enticed them. I was thinking, “Gee, only twenty-five more paid minutes!” Rick finally picked up Roxie and gently set her in the shallow end. She stood there motionless, like the statue out front. Then he did the same with Rex and with the same reaction. With the assistance of the pool guide, Tommy, we splashed around and tried to make the dogs enjoy the boredom of standing. That “fun” lasted a whole five minutes.
disappointment must have been evident. The next thing I knew, Rex was at the “deep” end and airborne into the pool compliments of Tommy. As Rex hit the water, he immediately started into a fast doggie paddle towards us. “Come on Rex!! Come this way!” we coached. Soon he was at the shallow end letting out a huge spray of water as he shook. No sense in messing up a towel. We soon discovered Rex had quite a command of his doggie paddle each time he was coaxed in. Not so lovely was his belly flop getting there!
Meanwhile, Roxie did not want any part of the “experience” leaving the rubber ducky chasing to Rex. She would run back and forth along the edge, but would clamp down her paws in the pavement when Tommy tried to get her in the deep end. Rick finally got enticed her into the shallow end where she was just content standing in the refreshing water and drinking it! After all, it’s the dog days of summer – what better place to be for a dog.
Check out Lotta Sports Facebook page for two fun videos of this!