Posts tagged "Swimming"
As my group of BSU at the Games members stood around Serpentine Lake, surrounded by thousands of people watching the triathletes furiously swim in front of us, some fans around us began to turn around. They started pushing through the massive crowd of people until they reached a clearing, and then it was a full-on sprint to the other side of Hyde Park.
Jonathan Batuello, one of our group members, was among those hurrying away from the lake even though the swimming portion wasn’t over. I hurried after him, but he ran so fast from the crowd I lost track of him.
At that point, it didn’t take long to figure out what everyone was running toward.
As the triathletes pulled themselves out of the water and onto their bikes, fans were racing over to the cycling track to get the best possible view of the next portion of the race.
It was funny to see how the rows of people next to the street worked itself out. Those who ran fast enough and knew they had to leave the swimming portion early earned the ultimate prize of getting great photos. Those of us who didn’t had to deal with photos that had heads and cameras in the way of the shot.
Our group learned from the first run through the park and made it over to the running track after the cycling was halfway finished. No running was necessary this time, and after a half hour of waiting, we were able to get a decent view of the triathletes sprinting by us.
For the first Olympic sport I’ve ever seen in-person, the women’s triathlon is memorable just for getting me out of a seat. That’s not something I’m used to as a football and basketball fan.
Still, the next time I sit down to comfortably watch a sport with a hot dog in one hand and a drink in the other, I know I won’t take it for granted.
Andrew Mishler | Sports Reporter
By Josh Blessing | BSU at the Games
Standing on the blocks at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, seconds before one of the most important swims of his career, breaststroker Eric Shanteau was not just physically competing against those swimmers to his left and right.
Like most world-class athletes, he tried to put himself in the moment of his race. The chance to realize a dream and qualify for the Olympic Games was on the line.
But as much as he tried to clear his head and focus on the task at hand, he faced even more challenging competition outside the pool.
The day life changed
Shanteau will never forget June 19, 2008. It’s the day doctors told him he had testicular cancer. He was 24 years old, and the timing was made more terrible by the Olympic pressure he already faced.
He was in the middle of vigorous training for the Beijing Olympics, and the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials were just a week away.
“It was devastating to say the least,” Shanteau said. “You get hit with all these emotions all at once. I think the biggest thing is the loss of control. All of a sudden, the control is ripped out of your hands and replaced with a doctor who is essentially giving you a battle plan to save your life.”
Shanteau was forced to make a decision—postpone treatment and risk his cancer advancing or miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Beijing to start his treatment.
He consulted with his doctors, family and coaches, and “they gave me the go-ahead to compete at the Olympics,” Shanteau said. “It was an experience of a lifetime. It’s something I worked my entire life to do, and stepping foot on that deck for the first time in Beijing—I’ll definitely never forget that.”
While undergoing weekly tests to make sure his cancer remained stable, Shanteau swam a personal best in the 200-meter breaststroke but missed the finals by 0.13 of a second. Then he traveled back to the U.S. and underwent surgery to remove the cancer at the end of August.
He was declared cancer-free six days later, but the mental challenges never evaporated.
Brian Balmes, a six-time cancer survivor and Shanteau’s good friend who has competed in 12 marathons, seven half Ironmans and one full Ironman, knows the toll cancer can take on someone over the years.
“One of the things you have to get through when you have cancer is living with the fear of it coming back,” Balmes said. “As a human we have to find things to do to help you deal with that mentally.”
Shanteau visited his doctor every two months for routine check ups. An elite athlete who dominated competition in the pool now hoped to hear everything was fine.
“Coping with everything I had been through was a struggle,” Shanteau said. “After everything finally calmed down and I realized what I actually had been through, I was worried about a recurrence—where it would come back, when, or even if it would come back. These thoughts are always going through your mind.”
Now four years later, the cancer has not returned.
Swimming from an early age
There was little question Shanteau, a native of Lilburn, Ga., would be back in the pool as quickly as possible. Swimming has been part of his life since childhood.
He broke onto the national scene at 16 when he competed at the 2000 Olympic Trials. Upon graduating from Parkview High School two years later, Shanteau became the first male in the history of the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American Program to graduate with a 4.0 grade-point average and win a national title.
His swimming prowess continued at Auburn University where he was undefeated in team competitions. Swimming for the Tigers, Shanteau was an 11-time NCAA All-American and helped his team compile 32 dual meet victories, four SEC titles and four NCAA titles.
Shanteau quickly put himself in the international swimming spotlight. At the 2005 World University Games, he won gold in both the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley, making him the first American to sweep both events.
Cancer didn’t slow his trajectory.
“I got back into the water and back in to shape,” Shanteau said. “I started swimming faster than I ever had before, pretty quickly. That’s really what led me to want to come back to the sport of swimming after 2008. I realized I hadn’t reached my potential quite yet.”
At the World Championships in 2009, Shanteau set American records in both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke. He also broke the world record and became a world champion as part of the 4×100 medley relay, joining teammates Aaron Peirsol, Michael Phelps and David Walters.
“The success in 2009 was a really big catalyst to helping me continue on for another four years and go for another Olympic Games,” Shanteau said.
Swim for your life
Although his success in the pool is undeniable, his story goes much further. It’s what Shanteau has done outside of the pool that is changing lives.
After becoming cancer free, he began getting involved with the LIVESTRONG Foundation. He then was able to meet Lance Armstrong and attend his first LIVESTRONG Challenge.
“The LIVESTRONG Foundation has grown to multiple cities, and that got me thinking,” Shanteau said. “I want to do this for the swimming community.”
Two years later, Shanteau started his own cancer awareness event called Swim for Your Life. The open-water event is held at Lake Lanier near Atlanta, Ga.
Now in its third year, it has continued to grow. All funds raised from the full day of open-water swimming races and clinics go to the Patient Navigation Center and other programs that LIVESTRONG offers.
“I try to and run it like a LIVESTRONG Challenge, just in the water.” Shanteau said. “The goal is to continue to grow it. As long as there’s a fight against cancer, it’s something I want to be involved with.”
Shanteau, who qualified for the London Games in the 100-meter breaststroke and relays, is hoping his exposure in London will help attendance numbers for Swim for Your Life once the event kicks off September 22.
“Year three is huge,” Shanteau said. “People only get to see the Olympics once every four years, and that’s when swimming is most popular. We’ll really get a feel for how much we can grow from this year. This is the year where we can expand and adjust more than we did last year.”
Balmes, a member of the organizing committee for the event, agrees with Shanteau.
“Participation last year was enormous, and I think we can double that this year—especially when he does so well over in (London),” he said with a smile, “which we all are hoping and praying for. It can be spectacular.”
Shanteau said one of the more specific messages behind Swim for Your Life is how it relates to men and testicular cancer. He said there are treatments that work, but it’s up to people to take action at the first signs of the disease.
“My message is that it’s OK to get help and it’s OK to acknowledge you have a problem,” he said. “Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be embarrassed. Straight, open talk about cancer is the biggest weapon we have against this disease.”
When Shanteau steps on the blocks in London, his incredible four-year journey likely will be identified as one of the great stories of this year’s Games.
“The mission of this has been to always give back,” Shanteau said. “I was given so much help and so much support from people I had never even met before. That was part of the reason why I started this, in some small way, to give back to people who I don’t know who will go through this or have a loved one go through this.
“There is life after cancer.”
Josh Blessing is a junior telecommunications major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Josh and the BSU team at@JoshJBlessing, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
By Tyler Poslosky | BSU at the Games
While most high school kids are spending time with family and friends or simply relaxing over their summer break, Nick Orf is preparing for the biggest opportunity of his life.
The 17-year-old soon-to-be senior at Parkway Central High School in St. Louis, Mo., has been a member of Parkway Swim Club for three years and will be vying for a spot on Team USA at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., June 25-July 2.
Swimming competitively is both taxing and burdensome at times, and Orf has virtually no free time.
“I’ve been doing some pretty rigorous workouts, sometimes eight to nine practices a week,” he said.
But he doesn’t mind, he said—as long as he can keep competing.
Orf, who qualified for the Olympic Trials in August 2011 for the 200-meter butterfly, swam against 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at the Ohio State Grand Prix last March.
With Phelps only a few lanes away from him, Orf said it was a relief to know everyone wasn’t monitoring his every move.
“It was nice to know that everybody else wouldn’t be watching me, that’s for sure,” Orf said. “They were all cheering for Michael Phelps and nobody had any idea who I was. It was pretty cool being able to race in the same pool as him. Just really exhilarating.”
The odds of Orf making it to London are slim, mainly due to his age and lack of experience, but Orf doesn’t mind being an underdog.
“It’s just really cool to be able to go,” he said. “It’ll be especially cool if I make the finals or semi-finals. I don’t expect to go, but it’s pretty awesome to have the chance to be able to [go] and to see all the other swimmers who end up making it. It’s good to watch.
“It’s mostly the experience for me because I’m hoping to make it in four years from now in 2016 when I’m [done] with college and I’ll have a lot more training under my belt. Hopefully, I’ll drop my time to get to that point where I might be able to make the team.”
Tyler Poslosky is a senior telecommunications and journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
Starting these things is always the hardest part, so I decided this would be the easiest way to do it. I am very excited to be traveling to London for the Olympics! To prepare this summer, I have been working with media on freelance work for our reporters and photo people, as well as bragging to my friends. One thing I am really nervous about though is flying. I am not what you would call a comfortable flyer and am typically on edge the whole flight. Considering this will be an eight-hour flight, I’m sure you can understand the anxiety. That still won’t stop me from going though!
While we are over there I think it would be awesome to see a Team USA basketball game or a soccer (or football, depending who is reading this) game. Those two also will be some of the most expensive tickets, along with swimming and gymnastics. Really, when I think about it though, I would be interested in going to any event. All of these athletes are the best in the world and I’m sure they are able to entertain.
Another thing I’m nervous about is what American songs I will be able to sing around London. Most other countries have traditional pub, sports or just leisure songs that everyone from the country knows. I have been thinking about it and I can’t think of any old-time traditional songs that I will be able to pull out, besides “American Pie.” This is something that I am really not very nervous about but yet VERY nervous about at the same time … Weird feeling.
My overall feeling about the trip though would be described as bubbling excitement. I have never been to Europe, never been to the Olympic Games and never had the opportunity to do the work I am doing with this trip. It is the trifecta.
Jordan Dimit | Public Relations Team
Meeting Olympians can be an intimidating thought. To even be given the opportunity to meet them is enough of a challenge. Ironically, Olympians Mary Killman and Mariya Koroleva are just like us. They like to have fun, make jokes and even interact with others. To have two Olympians be as friendly as they were with me only a few months before the biggest event of their lives was incredible.
We started the day at the Natatorium in Indianapolis. With a few others from the BSU at the Games crew, we shot video and conducted interviews. We got there around 9 a.m., and Killman and Koroleva were already in the pool practicing. It wasn’t until 12:30 p.m. that we saw them get out of the pool after some rigorous training.
We interviewed Koroleva shortly after the practice, which consisted of her talking about her Russian background, injury, life at Stanford and love for swimming. The best part of the interview was hearing her speak Russian. She even endorsed our site by encouraging potential viewers to check it out.
From there, we traveled to the St. Vincent Sports Performance facility. It was here that Killman and Koroleva had a spinning (cycling) workout. As we shot more video, the two athletes really started to loosen up—laughing while we recorded them and even making faces at the camera. Eventually, they finished their workout and began stretching.
The Olympians, along with their trainer, were using foam cylinders to stretch, and I became curious as to what it felt like. The trainer told me to grab one of the cylinders and then helped me with the stretching technique. It was a fun experience interacting with Killman, Koroleva and their trainer.
After all of the fun, we headed back to the pool to interview Killman. The interview was very similar to Koroleva’s. We were able to get a lot of good information about her and her history with the sport of synchronized swimming.
Finally, the crew packed up and headed home. After all was said and done, I think it’s safe to say we built lasting relationships with these two athletes.
Slowly, but surely, everything is falling into place for London.
Michael Nauman | Sports Reporter