Olympic Dreams Will Start And End In Ft. Myers

Olympic Dreams Will Start And End In Ft. Myers

There is so much emotion shown when an athlete makes their country’s Olympic team. Tears are often shed for joy. Athletes, their coaches, family and friend realize that the unadulterated happiness and pride shown is a result of years of training and preparation. Their sacrifice and commitment has led them down a path where they can represent themselves and their country in one of the world’s greatest sporting events.

Yet the flip side of that equation is unabated sadness and intense disappointment. While the winning athletes are flushed with adrenaline and beaming with wide smiles, the athletes on the losing end go limp with a crushing defeat.

Today, both sides will be shown in Fort Myers, Florida where USA Swimming will select its top two – and only the top two – female athletes for their next journey along the road to the 2012 London Olympics. USA Swimming’s selection race for the 2012 Olympic 10km Marathon Swim qualification race is today, starting at 8 am New York time. Open Water Source will tweet the race as it happens from the Miromar Lakes.

For the stakes cannot be any higher.

Years of training and a lifetime of dreams are on the line.

With the caliber of athletes among the top women and their current level of fitness, it is unlikely that the race will be pedestrian. As the women have stepped up their game over the last four years, the pace is likely to be very fast at the start and go from there. While the athletes will attempt to remain controlled in the early stages, it will only take a break by one these women for a furious battle to ensue. When one athlete steps up her pace, the field will undoubtedly follow, punishing each other in a long lung-busting, gut-wrenching, heart-pounding battle that will come down to the final stretch of 432 meters … and most likely the very last stroke.

For these women also all realize that their competitors are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of an Olympic berth.

Ashley Twichell (shown above) is swimming hot after her two-medal performance at the 2011 World Swimming Championships in Shanghai. She moved across the country to train under Coach Bill Rose of the Mission Viejo Nadadores after college. After recently training at high altitude, she is coming down and getting ready to take the next step on the world’s stage. If the race comes down to the last stroke, expect Duke University graduate Ashley‘s long arms to secure her a berth in Portugal.

Two-time FINA World Cup champion Christine Jennings is also swimming with a mission. While her train was temporarily unrailed with broken bones in her leg, her passion pulled her through and she is swimming fast with plenty of racing experience under her belt. If the race is rough, expect the physicality of the former University of Minnesota star Christine to give her the edge.

Tall and tough Haley Anderson, who trains with dozens of other Olympians at USA, is ready to pull off a great swim and will be right there physically and mentally in the middle of the pack the entire way. If the race is one long fast dash, expect Trojan Haley to start making her reservations to Portugal.

Well-established open water veteran Eva Fabian has literally grown up in the open water over the last quadrennial. The multi-talented intellectual took off a year at Yale University to focus on making the Olympic Team and all systems are a go. If strategy and tactics play a major role in the race, expect the Yalie Bulldog to be wearing red, white and blue in Portugal.

Two-time FINA World Cup champion Emily Brunemann moved across the country to train with one of the most successful Olympic swimming coaches in history, Jon Urbanchek…at an appropriately named swim club called FAST. Whatever the pace, whatever the tactics, former University of Michigan NCAA champion Emily will be there in the scrum. If it is her day, expect tears of joy at the finish.

Of course, the race always lives up to the mantra of expect the unexpected. 14-year-old national record holder Becca Mann from Florida will be in the mix, trying to make her mark early in her career. With this first-of-many opportunities to represent her country, Becca adds a youthful belief that anything is possible.

It will be a hard-fought, high-pressure race throughout the six loops where each of these women know the stakes involved and the tremendously fast pace that will be required for 10,000 meters…before a climatic finish where it will be anyone’s game.

The race will be called by Mike Lewis with tweets flying as fast and furious as the women will be swimming.

Photo is courtesy of Dr. Jim Miller.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones