Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tears of Mixed Emotion

Sometimes we all just shed tears of mixed emotion. This was certainly the case for me tonight... I watched a short highlight DVD of the Beijing Olympics that my parents gave me for the holidays.
For those of you who don't know...Beijing was the most magical and fulfilling experience of my life! I fulfilled my dream of becoming an Olympic Gold medalist. What's more, I felt like I was a part of something bigger and more meaningful than anything else I had ever experienced...I represented the United States of America on the world's biggest stage. I never would have imagined how emotional and incredibly proud I would be to wear the Stars and Stripes...it was literally life changing for me. For the first time in my life I realized the Olympics was more than a sporting event. The Olympics was a time when all nations could set aside their differences for two weeks and enjoy coming together to watch the world's greatest athletes take the stage and compete. I had never and may never again be exposed to an environment that seemed so pure, so positive, so focused on perfection and so hospitable to others who don't even speak the same language as you. There was a sense that everything was right with the world. It was truly magnificent!!!

Imagine watching a DVD of something you lived through. Now imagine this time period being the most amazing experience of your life. Imagine being in the movie. Imagine a soundtrack that exudes inspiration, triumph, defeat, emotion, love, and a sheer will to win. Now you get an idea of what the scene was like in my room as my eyes were literally locked on the TV. I began watching while stretching my hamstrings on the floor. By the end of the DVD I was about three feet closer to the TV and crouching down on my knees with my hands on the floor in front of me. My heart rate had spiked while my brain had simultaneously released tons of adrenaline deep into my veins and muscles...I was ready to explode with excitement. I was enthralled. This was one of those times we've all experienced when you really don't want the movie to end.

While this was unbelievably exciting for me to watch I had some feelings of sadness as well...the Beijing Olympics are history. For me, watching and in a small sense reliving these moments that had surrounded me in Beijing was like thinking of the most perfect day...the day when everything went right...when the weather was perfect, the food was spectacular, the company was second to none, your expectations were exceeded...you were the happiest of your life and don't know if it will ever get any better...and you can never go back. That day can never happen again. You will never relive that experience. The only thing left is the memory that is in your mind...and that memory tickles your mind like it wants you to come back and relive some more but there is no possible way. This is the sadness I feel.

As I sat in my room I shed a few tears of mixed emotion. Tears of the happiest moment, the highest high, the dream come true and the tears of knowing that experience will never come back again...I will never be able to relive or go back to the Beijing Olympics.

So tell me...how would you feel?

Is this absurd or is there some legitimacy to my feelings?

I don't know?

As the year of 2008 comes to a close I think more and more about the best year of my life. The year I graduated the University of Texas, finally got my high blood pressure under control, had a great Olympic Trials and Beijing Olympics and finished it off by spending more time with my wonderful family than I had in years:) I wonder if there will be better years? Of course there will be. There will be different experiences, different joys and triumphs... I guess the difficulty for me is the uncertainty of not knowing what/if or when any of these things will happen.

Should Have Been Swimmers

Garrett and Michael were not selected as the NBC photo of the year. The admittedly cool image above was. Oh well, I'm biased (as a dad should be), but I still like swimmers best. Thanks to the thousands who voted!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Last Day to Vote for Photo of the Year

Garrett and Michael Phelps are featured as one of the NBC photos of the year. If you haven't already, log on, go to the vote section, find the skinny scroll bar on the right and find the photo of Garrett and Michael. Thanks.

Versions of that photo have already been featured in "Best of 2008" sections of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, ABC TV San Francisco and many others.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Heading back to Tejas

Tomorrow I will be leaving Wisconsin and heading back to Austin, Texas. I must say I am a bit sad about leaving. My time here in Wisconsin has been wonderful. This break has been filled with great memories of spending time with my family and friends, playing in the huge amount of snow we had, snowboarding, cooking and getting a chance to just kick back and relax. I realize we must always return back to reality but it is still sad to leave all this behind me.

My training will begin abruptly when I return back to Austin. I get in late Sunday night and will be getting up by 6:20am on Monday morning to go swim. I have never shied away from work, sacrifice or training...however, this doesn't mean I like it. I completely understand that the work I have put in has taken me above and beyond where I could have ever been without it. There is still a bit of nervousness inside me about going back for winter training. This will be my sixth year training with Eddie and Kris at Texas...I know what winter training entails. We will swim two hours every morning and night. On top of this we will do weights three days a week. The difference in this training is that the coaches realize there is nothing else we are doing except training...they absolutely kill us every workout and every set.

Let me take a minute and clarify something.... I don't see this blog as a forum for me to complain. This is not its purpose in any way, shape or form. I want this to be a place where ya'll can get some insight into what I'm feeling and what my life is like as a professional athlete.

My point is that although I have been to the Olympics and have been fortunate enough to have had some success in my career, I am still as human as anyone else. I guess there will be times in all of our lives when we feel intimidated or even a bit apprehensive about things. Right now I think I am just dreading the dead tiredness, pain, and mental stress I'm about to be put into.

I have found the best thing to do in life is take things one step at a time. When I return to Austin and start training, I will think about the practice at hand...not the number of hard practices that are still to come. This mentality puts me in a better position to focus on the work I will be doing at that given time. There will be updates throughout winter training...check back soon!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. I always love this time of year. There is no better time to be with family and friends. It doesn't matter what religion you are or what you believe in...the winter has always been a very special time to spend with loved ones.

The reason I love the holidays so much is because there is just a sense of happiness in the air that is different than any other time of year. Mixed with the joy of the season is wonderful food, beautiful lights and seasonal music.

The other night I went to the Nutcracker ballet with my family. The ballet was really a great time. It was different than anything I'd ever been to before...there is no talking. The costumes and the dancing were beautiful!
After the ballet we went ice skating outside in downtown Milwaukee. I'm not quite sure if my skates were really dull or what but I was slipping all over the place. The skates were rentals so I'm sure they weren't the best skates... Either way, my sister, mom, dad and I all had a really nice time skating outside. The park we were skating in was all decorated with tons of holiday lights. Some swim fans recognized me and we snapped the photo below.
Right now my dad and sister are making Beet Gnochni with a Parmesan Cream Sauce with Prosciutto. It is going to be absolutely spectacular...Seriously the food at the holidays is simply outstanding (if very rich on occasion). Remember, eat in moderation and exercise and everything will be just fine haha...
My holiday season has been very enjoyable so far. I hope all of you have also had a great time with family and friends:)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Aaaahhhhhhhhh I'm soooo excited!!! I went snowboarding today for the first time in six years. I stopped snowboarding my junior year of high school because I didn't want to risk getting injured for swimming.

Originally I had planned on going skiing with my family this winter in Vail. When I was younger we went to Vail and it was literally my favorite vacation EVER!!! There were several reasons Vail was so amazing...I learned to snowboard, there was fresh powder every day and the Packers won the Superbowl while we were there. Unbelievable:)

Today my sister and I went to a small private ski hill in Wisconsin that our family used to be members of many years ago. Luckily we still know the man who runs the ski hill so he let us come ski for free!

We put our gear on and successfully got on and off the chairlift. We really didn't know what to expect because it had been a long time since we had gone.

Before I continue this story (That's us at left in Vail.) I must give ya'll some background info. Snowboarding has been the biggest thing I have given up for my swimming. Every winter I miss it. Every winter I dream about it and imagine what it would be like. Sometimes when I can't fall asleep or am at a meet and need to relax I close my eyes and picture myself carving down the mountain. As you can see, I love it. To me, there is nothing better than cruising down the mountain with snow falling all around and just enjoying the great outdoors!

As my sister and I prepared ourselves for the first run I was so excited I was about to jump out of my boots. I was standing at the top of the hill about to make my first descent. How many times had I dreamt about this? How long had I wanted this to become a reality? Answers: many and long. My face was grinning from ear to ear and I was screaming at my sister to clip her bindings faster so we could go! This was it. Here I go... The run was absolutely perfect. I was making great turns and felt like a million bucks:) seriously I think I visualized this so many times that I was just ready to go. It felt like I had gone last week not six years ago. This goes to show how powerful visualization can be.

The rest of the day was outstanding. I was carving all over the place with my sister. My heart was content...but now I want to go again...now I want to go to a bigger place and ski longer runs haha. My dream is to one day have a house in Vail and spend time with my family and friends skiing, snowboarding and playing in the snow. I know this can become a reality if it's what I really want! Wow life is so great!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wisconsin Foodie Segment

Today I had a really fun and unique opportunity to be on a cooking show called 'Wisconsin Foodie.' This is a new show that focuses on the unique and flavorful foods Wisconsin has to offer. They have also had well known chefs, cheese makers and restaurants in their episodes. I was asked to be on the show and to bring a healthy and tasty recipe to prepare with the resident chef, Brian Moran. I prepared bison steaks seared with herbs and finished with a red wine reduction. Why bison? Because it's a flavorful red meat that is low in fat and high in protein.
We started shooting the show at about 10:00am and continued for a couple hours. It really was like being on something I'd watched so many times on the Food Network. At first we talked all about the preparation, the smells, the bison, the nutritional content of the meal etc. Then the cooking began. My recipe calls to pan sear the outside of the bison and finish it in the oven. All the while Brian and I were talking about cooking, food, swimming, and my training.
This was a great opportunity for me to get some experience cooking on a show and being in front of a camera crew in this type of setting. I really want and plan to get more and more into the food industry. Thankfully the producers of 'Wisconsin Foodie' Mark and Arthur invited me to be on the show and give me some exposure.

The producers plan to have the show run in the middle January. I will put a link to the show on the blog as soon as it is available!
Definitely check out the 'Wisconsin Foodie' website to get more of an idea of the show.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Whiteout in Wisconsin

Well, the snow slowed as day finally dawned. Basically, everthing is closed. Coaches were probably frustrated and age-groups swimmers were no doubt delighted. Garrett has been worried that our early-season snowfalls in Wisconsin would be gone by the time he got up here for a holiday visit. Well, I don't think it's going to be a problem. More is on the way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tough Morning

This morning was pretty tough...

Practice was killer. First off the pool is really cold. More than anything, I hate cold water. Cold water kills morale without a doubt. We warmed up for about thirty minutes, then jumped into a set of 10, 300's best average on 3:45. This means we did 10, 300's going as fast as we could possibly hold. The interval was 3:45. I was dog tired. My arms literally felt like they were tightening up more and more with every stroke. I mainly was trying to stay long in my stroke and keep my head looking at the bottom of the pool. I think it is always necessary to be thinking about our strokes, especially in hard sets like this. Many times we fall into poor technique when the work gets tough. When we begin to fall apart and get fatigued this is the most important time to keep our technique as close to perfect as we can. Our mind and muscle memory learns to hold this correct technique for our races when we practice it on sets like this.

Although this was a really tough set I left practice feeling energized and ready to go. There is something about working hard in the morning that just starts the day off perfectly. I ran some errands and headed home.

Before I got home I stopped at a gas-station to fill up. For some reason I felt enticed to go buy a lottery ticket...this is very out of my nature...in fact I think this is my first time to ever buy a lottery ticket. I asked for the ticket that was five dollars and gave me the opportunity to win a custom chopper motorcycle. I would love a motorcycle! I understand a motorcycle is not really in the cards right now due to my status as a professional athlete...However, I still want one haha:)

I pulled my credit card out to pay for the milk and lottery ticket. The man behind the counter told me that Texas State Law prevents you from paying for a lottery ticket with a credit card. I asked him why? He said, "it's probably to keep people from over-extending themselves..." Wow, I think that is a great idea! He added, "If so many people didn't over-extend themselves we probably wouldn't be in such a financial crisis right now." I had to agree with the man. What do you think?

I won the five dollars back!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Driven to Succeed: Freestyle Insight

Check out my new DVD! The focus of 'Driven to Succeed' is on Freestyle technique and important lifestyle tips that will help make you more successful in and out of the pool! You may now purchase the DVD on swimroom.

Here is the trailer for the DVD. I hope you like it!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Training Schedule

I'm often asked what my training schedule is...well here you go.

Monday: Swim; 6:30-8:00am, 3-5pm. Weights; 1:30-3pm
Tuesday: Dry-land; 1:45-3:00pm. Swim; 3-5pm
Wednesday: Swim; 6:30-8:00am, 3-5pm. Weights; 1:30-3pm
Thursday: Dry-land; 1:45-3:00pm. Swim; 3-5pm
Friday: Swim; 6:30-8:00am, 3-5pm. Weights; 1:30-3:00pm
Saturday: Swim; 9:00-11:00am

My weight workouts consist of many different exercises that includes but is not limited to; biceps, triceps, lat pull, bench, squat, leg extension, calf raises, rows, and core work...

Dry-land varies depending upon what part of the season we're in. Some of the exercises we do may include; pull-ups, push-ups, dips, running the stadium, medicine ball work, box jumps, and of course more core work...

In addition to what I do in the pool and in the weight room I do extra work at home. I generally do about 300 extra push-ups at home as well as modified dips using my coffee table... I am always trying to get stronger and like pushing myself to be better. My goal is to be able to do 100 push-ups in a row. Right now I can do in the 60's. Most of my sets are between 30 and 50 push-ups at a time. I know getting stronger is what I need to do in order to get faster...Needless to say, I will get stronger!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Crazy Volleyball Game--Good Friend vs. Horns

I currently have some friends in town from the good old state of Wisconsin. Their daughter is on the Iowa State volleyball team that played in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament last night...here in Austin.

I finished practice and immediately booked it over to the gym where the game was already underway. When I got there Iowa State had just lost the first set to Oregon. I sat down and they lost the second set. I looked to the parents of the player and said, "Let's keep our fingers crossed!" I honestly wasn't thinking anything miraculous was going to happen. I don't mean to sound down but to come back and win the next three sets would be a huge task.

BAM!! Iowa State started to get on a roll. Blockers started to stuff Oregon's front line and the Cyclones front line was heating up and drilling the ball into the ground!

About an hour later I was jumping in the air and yelling at the top of my lungs. The Cyclones pulled it off. This was one of the best and most exciting sporting events I've ever been to.

However, there's a problem...now Texas and Iowa State are playing against each other in the Elite Eight. Who do I cheer for? I'm pretty sure I know the right answer, but I'm now emotionally invested in Iowa State. My friend's daughter, a girl I've known since I was seven, is playing against my school. This is kinda tough. Haha not really, TEXAS baby:)

Even though I will be sitting with the Cyclone troop my burnt orange and love for Texas will show strong!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

T-Shirt Are Moving and Thanks for Your Ideas

Thanks to everyone who ordered a T-shirt on day one. If you haven't had a chance, be sure to check out G-commerce. And thanks for the new ideas on merchandise--apron, beach towel... what else?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blurred Win Avenged

The stage was the NCAA Championships in 2006 at Georgia Tech. It was the the third and final day of the meet and this was my favorite day, the 100 free. As I stood behind the block before my race I watched a teammate get disqualified for a false start. It was difficult to see and I think it made me subconsciously think about false starting myself. I got up on the block. As the starter said, "take your mark," I prepared myself to explode. However, the gun went off and I did everything but explode. I stood there on the block and when I realized everyone was already in the air, I jumped. I distinctly remember seeing the guy on my right going into the water when I was still in the air...I barely made the final, I was eighth. I was simply thankful to have made it into the final and was bound and determined to do well at night.

Up to this point in the meet I was pretty dissapointed in my performances. I got 9th in the 100 back and 8th in the 50 free. I was not about to finish NCAA's like this. As they marched us out for the final of the 100 free I was more determined and focused than I could remember ever being. I got up on the block and literally exploded. I had the fastest reaction time in the field. As I always do, I took it out fast. I was first to the 50 at 19.9. The third 25 I remember telling myself to keep my stroke long. As I turned for home I closed my eyes so that I wouldn't loose focus and take a peak at my competitors. My legs were burning and my arms felt like sandbags. This pain had better be worth it... I touched the wall and as I took my goggles off to my surprise I saw nothing. Somehow my contacts had come out in the last five meters. Desperately I looked around for someone to tell me what had just taken place. I looked up at the timers and yelled to ask them what just happened. They looked at me like I was speaking some form of underground language they had never heard before. I looked to the stands and there was nothing but blurred color. Finally I saw Ben Wildman-Tobriner, my friend from Stanford who had competed with me on the World Championship team the previous summer. He had raced a few lanes over and had come over with huge excitement on his face. Finally someone was close enough for me to actually see and talk with...I asked him what happened. He said, "Dude you won and I got second." I barely believed him. Was this a joke? Did I really win? Was he telling me the truth? I proceeded to smile and get super excited. This was my first individual NCAA title!

This past Saturday I swam the 100 free at the US Nationals at Georgia Tech. I made the consolation final. I was happy with this because at this point in my season I really don't care how I place. However, I needed to see that 1 on the board for a 100 freestyle at the Georgia Tech pool. Going into this race I was determined to have that one placed on the board next to my name. I felt like I missed out on something last time I raced the 100 free there. My prelim swim was 43.5. I wanted to go at least 43.3.

Earlier in the day I talked to Randy Reese, an old coach of mine, and asked him what to do differently for the final. He said work the 3rd 25 harder. He said, "the 3rd 25 is where most people ease up a bit." I did exactly what he said and went 42.67. I was thrilled. Not only was this my best ever in-season time...it was faster than I thought I could go...and the 1 was finally visible to ME on the board! My peace had been made:)


I've been having some problems on and off with my groin since April. It initially started after doing a ton of box jumps in the weight-room. It has been really bad at times. Thankfully it is doing really well right now with the help of a chiropractor I've been seeing in Austin.

I have to say I was a bit reluctant to go to a chiropractor for my groin but it has been great. In the past I have always gone to the same massage guy named Marc, and he has always fixed my issues. I call him "magic hands" because he is so good. However, after the Olympics I wanted to try something new. I decided to test this alternative out.

Much to my surprise, most of the work I've had done a the chiropractor is not cracking this and cracking that. Actually it is very little of that. A good deal of it has been unbelievably painful massage. Although I was basically biting my fist off this morning on the table...it seems to be helping my groin a ton. So far I would definitely recommend this type of therapy to others.

I will post again tonight about the final day of nationals. Sorry but I have been super busy since I've been back...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Back to Basics

I was trolling around on the internet and came across this concise article from Colorado State University on nutrition for athletes. It's a pretty good summary of how different kinds of foods fuel our bodies. Funny how you can sort of forget this stuff over time.

Look for Garrett back tomorrow with a new post.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Double Dose of Zipper Problems

As I was putting my suit on last night before the 200 free a guy came up to me and started to talk to me. I had no idea who he was but he was friendly so I chatted with him for a couple minutes. He told me how it was too bad that my zipper broke in the morning. I agreed and then proceeded to ask him to zipper my suit up. Once the zipper got about half-way up, it broke. He was like, "uh-oh, I think I just broke your suit..." I was stunned. I asked one of my teammates Dale to come over and take a look at it. They both tried to move the zipper and it was not going anywhere. I have to say I was pissed. Breaking once was a pain...this time I was simply mad. Not to mention, this was a brand new suit. The guy felt really bad, I told him not too worry, it wasn't his fault. All the while the kids who were volunteering at the meet were taking pictures of me putting my suit on with their camera phones. They think they're being sneaky but they're not at all cause they kept looking at me and laughing as they took my picture hahaha kids.

I went up to the blocks and people told me my suit was broken. I just thought to myself, "Uummmm yeah of course it is". As I was waiting for the starter to call us up to the block, my heart was definitely moving faster than it normally would. I just told myself I was going to win the heat and go faster than I did in the morning. This was like a man challenge...I could either be a little wimp and let this stupid zipper get the best of me...or I could pound this race and prove to myself that I can beat the tests put in front of me. In addition...the majority of my heat was younger than me so I really had to man up and pop something good off.

The gun fired and I dove into the water. In reality, there was actually less drag with the zipper half-way up than completely open. I wasn't sure how this would feel but it wasn't quite as bad as in the morning. I was out pretty fast at the 50. I went into the race wanting to build every 50 and make a consistent increase in my effort through every 50. I have difficulty holding back on the first 50 of 200's, partly because I get pretty excited. I was first to the 50 and the 100. The guy in the lane next to me beat me to the 150. At this point I flipped the switch on my legs and motored home. I won the heat and went 1:36.89, this is faster than I went in the morning. Once again I went at least in the range I had set out to do so I was satisfied.

Without a broken zipper I think I could have gone 1:35...oh well. I'm still happy with the time. Although this time isn't anything spectacular in comparison to what other swimmers are going in the country, it's good for me and that's all that matters. I can't impress enough upon all of you that it doesn't matter what everyone else is going. Compare yourself to what you've done in the past. As long as YOU are getting better than YOU were before...everything is all good.

As Eric, Dale and I walked out of the pool last night a guy named Bart came up to me and started talking to me about the relay this summer. I met him the day before when he gave me a swim suit...yes I forgot to bring a Speedo to the swim meet:( Bart owns a swim shop. He told me the first day of the meet as well as last night that he literally watches that 400 free relay from Beijing everyday. The first time he told me this I couldn't help but laugh and not believe him. Last night he told me again and I could tell he was totally serious. Bart described how his business has been dramatically increased by the summer Olympics and people come in talking about that relay. It's really an honor to have people say this type of thing to me. I'm glad so many people enjoyed watching that race as well as the Olympics in general. I jokingly told him he needs to cut me a check for all the help I've given his business. Bart replied by saying, "are you kidding me, where do I send it!" hahaha it was really funny and we all laughed. This is really one of the best things about competing and traveling, meeting new and interesting people!

I got a voice message from Josh Davis last night...he said, "dude, great swim tonight...I think I need to let you borrow my suit after you let me borrow your cap haha...I just got your message from this-morning and I'm gunna save it for motivation...you ain't gunna spank me no more boy hahhahaha!" it was a hilarious message. I'm trying to figure out how I can get the sound byte up on the blog. Give me some time and I will hopefully figure it out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I want to swim longer...

Well the 50 free last night was not perfect, but it was in the range I wanted to go for this meet. I went 19.87. I wanted to go between 19.4 and 19.8. I can leave satisfied with that performance. I still feel pretty awkward in the water because I simply haven't worked on any speed thus far this season. When I finished the race all I wanted to do was swim a longer race. I half-way wished I had swum the 500 free instead of the 50.

The 200 free was this morning and I was really looking forward to it. Sitting on the deck before warm-up I was reading the heat sheet and noticed I was next to Josh Davis. I was pumped. Josh is a total legend in the sport of swimming, having won several Olympic medals at two Olympic games. Not to mention, Josh is a Texas boy...gotta love the Texas boys!

I immediately got on my phone and called Josh to find out if he was really at the meet??? I got his answering machine and left him a message that included,"I see you're entered in the 200 free at Nationals...I hope this is true cause I can't wait to spank you like a little baby hahahaha!" I've been great friends with Josh for about six years so he knows I'm joking:)

As I was warming up I saw Josh underneath the water coming up towards me. We both laughed and I told him we were next to each other in the 200 free. He was pumped to race with me too.

I made sure to do more in warm-up than I figured I needed to. Especially at this point of the season, you cannot warm-up too much. I've found through many years of swimming, weight-training and competing that generally our bodies are much tougher and resilient than our minds. As long as we're confident in what we're doing our bodies will support our decisions and perform.

As I was putting my suit on Josh came over and asked if I had an extra cap. I told him I did but it was a 'Weber-Gale' Texas cap. He said, "all the better." Josh and I were behind the blocks and one of the timers got a picture of us both wearing the same cap. I've never seen my name on someone else's cap before, but I must say, it looked pretty cool. I was super proud to have Josh wear my cap...seriously he is a legend that will always be respected and remembered!

As I dove off the block in the 200 free the zipper on the back of my suit popped open. It's amazing how much drag this adds. To say the least I wasn't thrilled but I was very careful to stay focused on what I was doing. I wasn't about to let this stupid problem get in the way of me swimming a good race. I was out in 47.0 and as I turned at the 100 I saw Josh a good bit ahead of me. In all honesty, I said to myself, "uh-0h I better pick it up...I'm not about to get beat by Josh, especially after I left that message on his phone haha..." Don't get me wrong, I respect Josh a ton but he no longer trains and I should be able to beat him. At about the 125 I started to really throw my kick in the mix. I consistently built every 50 and finished with pretty good force. I went 1:37.7. This was a great morning swim for me. I will look to go faster tonight, especially since in all likely-hood my suit won't be broken.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

First Race Since Beijing

This-morning I swam my first race since Beijing. I arrived in Atlanta yesterday afternoon. I warmed up in the pool and felt descent for having traveled. As I said before, I'm not quite sure what to expect from this meet. I know this is a good pool and I have had good luck in it. I won the 100 free here at the NCAA Championships my junior year, in 2006.

Warm-up was good this morning. I generally warm-up really slow in order to help my mind and body ease into the meet. As warm-up went on I started to do some build 25's and fast 25's. I felt ok but nothing to write home about. However, it doesn't matter how you feel...it matters how you look. Randy Reese always told me it doesn't matter what we feel like. He is right. There have been times when I have felt terrible and have swum awesome.

The 50 started and I had a pretty good start. What happened next was not as good...I was on the surface of the water before I even knew what was going on...I soon realized I needed to start swimming. Usually I will have a powerful breakout and transition very well into the rest of the race. Needless to say, this was not the case. I approached the turn and I found myself looking up to see where the wall was. My turn was ok and I could tell I was ahead of the people in my line of sight. I whipped off some fly kicks and broke out for home. The second 25 I just focused on blasting my legs. I got to the wall and went 19.91. I'm moderately happy with that as a morning swim. I made it back for the semi-finals, which is all that really matters to me right now. I don't care how I place. This meet is simply a way for me to gauge my progress and get an opportunity to race.

After the race I talked to Kris, our assistant coach at Texas. I was laughing when he walked up to me because it is funny to race when you haven't done it in so long. He said I looked like a guy who hasn't raced in a long time. I would have to agree with him. Kris described my swimming by saying, "your body was like Woooowwww I haven't gone this fast in a really long time." Very true. I know the meet will continue to get better with every session. I will keep ya'll updated...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mental Toughness

I thought ya'll might get something out of this article. My Q&A is down the page on the left...check it out!


Monday, December 1, 2008

First Competition Since Beijing

Wednesday I head to Atlanta for US Nationals. This will be the first meet I will have raced in since my competition ended in Beijing. I'm not quite sure what to think about it? I have been training pretty well in Austin and am happy with my progress so far. My strength in the weight-room is probably better than it has ever been, and I am getting more and more fit in the water everyday. How this will translate into racing remains to be seen.

Today I talked with Eddie about the meet and told him what I think I can realistically go. He told me he thinks I'm going to be on the fast side. I must say, it is such an amazing feeling to know how much confidence Eddie has in me! I work so hard for him and really listen to everything he says. There is no question that Eddie and Kris (Texas' assistant coach) have been the masterminds behind my success and have truly guided me like no one else could have. I have the utmost trust in what they tell me and the decisions we make together.

In terms of the times I think I can go at nationals...These are obviously not concrete but rather estimates of the range I think I should be in.
50 Free: 19.4-19.8
100 Free: 42.7-43.3
200 Free: 1:37.0-1:38.5
I would be happy with my performances if I swam within these ranges.

It is difficult to judge in swimming what is possible. The best thing to do is take a hard look at what you've done in the past and how you've felt on those particular occasions. Given my current level of fitness and strength I think these standards are both high yet attainable. Never make a goal that doesn't have both of those components. Goals must push us to be better while maintaining a realistic component that when achieved will give us greater confidence to do more in the future.

We'll see how this meet goes. I'm honestly really looking forward to racing and testing my body!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

I woke up in Detroit at 7:20am which was 6:20am Wisconsin time. The day before I traveled to Detroit to be in their Thanksgiving day parade. Thanksgiving morning we were taken from the hotel to breakfast where Peter Vanderkay and I did a radio interview. The day got started off with lots of food. We were at this restaurant and the chef came out to ask what we wanted to eat. I said everything but eggs (I'm allergic to eggs). Two minutes later he came out with a plate that spelled heart attack...about a pound of bacon and sausage with huge rustic fried potatoes, donuts and bagels. Needless to say I didn't eat too much. I knew this day was going to be filled with eating and needed to pace myself.

From breakfast Peter and I were taken to a live TV interview with the local TV that was covering the parade. It was a very short interview that basically talked to us about our Olympic experience. The temperature was quite cold. Although I'm from Wisconsin, I have lived in Texas the past six years and am no longer fit for the cold...I'm a whimp now haha:)
Peter and I were placed on a float sponsored by Pepsi that was called the "Let Freedom Ring Float." We were accompanied by an Olympic soccor player named Lindsay as well as a Paralympic swimmer named Cheryl. The float had a huge bald eagle on the back with the statue of liberty and the liberty bell. It was quite the float! There were two huge speakers on the front that were blaring this up-beat song about America. The song actually had a really good ring to it. It was one of those songs that even if it is the first time you hear it you can sing along.

It was great to see all the people who came out to see the parade. As our float proceeded through the parade we got tons of cheers, USA chants, waves and smiles. People in the streets were even singing and dancing to the song...it was hilarious! Although I had questioned whether or not to go to the parade on Thanksgiving day...it was the right decision. Seeing the happiness on people's faces was really special!

At the conclusion, there was a car waiting to take me to the airport. They rushed so I could try to catch a 12:24 flight instead of my 3:40 flight. I made the early flight. Unfortunately, after we all loaded the plane they told us there was a hydraulic leak and we all had to get off. Northwest found us another plane and we were on our way back to Milwaukee! I got to Milwaukee at about 1:45. From the airport I proceeded to pick my grandma up and take her to our friends' house for Thanksgiving dinner.

As always, dinner was absolutely delicious. Aside from the food, I think my favorite part of the holidays is just being together with family and friends. To me, there is nothing better than family and close friends. I'm very thankful I got back safely to Milwaukee and got to have an amazing time:) I hope all ya'll had just as much fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cross Your Fingers

Garrett hopped off the Pepsi Olympic float in downtown Detroit and into a cab. He's on his way to the airport with high hopes of grabbing an earlier flight back to Milwaukee. Will he make it? We sure hope so. If not, he'll still make it for turkey. It sure would be nice to have him three hours earlier, though.

I'm sure he'll post an update by early tomorrow.

Enjoy your families and feasts, all.

Mark, Garrett's dad

Monday, November 24, 2008

Training in Wisconsin

I am currently back in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving break. I am continuing my training at both a YMCA near my house as well as a club team in the area. It's always fun to go swim with different swimmers and coaches to see how things differ from where I swim in Texas. I trained pretty hard tonight both in the pool and the weight-room. Although the level of training is not quite as difficult as it is in Texas...I am pushing myself to do the best I can.

One thing Eddie told me to do if it is difficult to get a lot of good work in, is to kick some of their swimming sets. My big weapon is my kick so it's essential I continue to work hard to make it better and better.

This morning I woke up and it seemed a bit brighter in my room than the morning before. I immediately thought to myself, "SNOW!" I yanked the cord to my blinds and there was about five inches of fluffy snow all over the place. The trees were all covered too. It's a good thing my Dad and I put up all our holiday lights yesterday. It continued to snow throughout the day. I absolutely love snow and am super happy to see the white gold:)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some Questions I've Received

In the past week or so I have received several questions that relate to my swimming and lifestyle. I want to share the questions as well as my answers with all of ya'll.

Question 1: "How much time do you spend working on flexibility? And is it true that ankle flexibility is a huge aspect of swimming?"

Answer: Flexibility is a very important part of being an athlete. If you're flexible your muscles will be more resilient to injury as well as be able to perform at a higher level. I generally try to stretch my legs for five to ten minutes after I weight train. Every single night I do a routine of stretching for about 45 minutes. During this routine I mainly stretch my legs, hips and back. It is very important to work your way into this and warm your muscles up. Stretching cold muscles can be bad so I take time to warm up at the beginning of this routine. Some experts may say I shouldn't stretch at night when my muscles aren't as warm as they would be when I finish working out. My answer to this is that we must all do what works for us and what fits into our schedule. I stretch at night because it is both convenient for me and gets me relaxed to get a good night's sleep for the next day of work. In terms of ankle flexibility...this is very very important. There isn't a single good kicker in the world who does not have flexible ankles. This is essential to swimming fast. You can all take advantage of stretching your ankles. It is easy and can be done at anytime during the day.

Question 2: "What do you do when you are sick? Just tough it out? Are you expected to practice just short of a full blown flu? Inquiring swim fans want to know."

Answer: When I get sick, which I currently am, I am very careful about what I eat and do. I try to make sure I stay consistent with washing my hands and staying away from others who may also be sick (I generally do this anyway, but when I am sick I am much more careful). My diet becomes more focused around eating things that contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. Remember, everything we consume affects the way our body performs and feels. Being extra careful about what I eat and drink when I'm sick is very important. In terms of practicing and working out...I am expected by Eddie and Kris, and expect myself, to continue as normal. Although it is not fun to practice when you feel sick, it is important to continue becoming stronger and fitter. Eddie Reese always tells us that everyday we miss is a day we can never get back. There is also a mental aspect to training through sickness. I'm sure many of you have experienced competing through sickness or have heard of someone who has. It is important to train our minds to cope with the stress of being sick and let ourselves know that we can still perform at a high level, even if we may not be at our best. Of course if I'm really sick with, let's say the full-blown flu diagnosed by a doctor, I won't train.

Question 3: "I have been having some trouble with swimming my own race. Sometimes I worry too much about the time and what the outcome is. What are some of your methods of staying focused and swimming fast under pressure???"

Answer: I have had this problem many times in the past. This is something everyone deals with at some point in their career. It is very difficult to train yourself to focus solely on your own race. One of the ways I train myself to focus only on myself in a race, is by perfecting the technique in practice. It can be very difficult in practice to not look around and race other people but trust me, this will better prepare you for race day. Eventually you will realize that it does not do you any good to focus on your competitors. Through experience I know that if I even glance at a competitor or lose my focus, there is no way I can still go as fast as I may have gone. As for swimming fast under pressure...I'm not really sure how to answer that. Some swimmers are able to swim fast when they need to without exception, and some swimmers are not. I have seen tons of people train fast and when it comes to race day they buckle under the pressure. It sounds crazy but you may try and give yourself an ultimatum. I particularly remember doing this once when we raced in Florida. I told myself if I didn't go a certain time I would make myself go lift weights for two hours on Sunday...I didn't go the time...the next day I killed myself in the weight-room for two hours. This may not be your style but it seems to have worked for me...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Freestyle Technique and More

Garrett is grabbing a flight right after practice, so I'll post a quick update. He's going to make his 88-year-old grandma really happy later today when he and his sister show up at her place for dinner.

Swimmers have been emailing him through http://www.gwgswims.com/ with specific swimming technique questions. He's been compiling those and plans to put together a post to summarize a number of them. So watch for that.
Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Golden Goggles

As many of you already know I was in New York City this past weekend for the Golden Goggle awards that were hosted last night November 17, 2008. I arrived in the city Saturday and had a wonderful night with my sister, Hillary, and her friends. We all went out to a bar on the lower east side called the Back Room. During the Prohibition Era it was a real Speakeasy and much of the decor and theme remains today.

Sunday my Mom and Dad arrived in the city. It was really wonderful to have the entire family together. As I get older I realize more and more how special it is to all be in the same place at the same time. When I was young I took it for granted and just thought that is always how it would be. My sister Hillary lives in NYC, my parents live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I live in Texas. I really cherish the time we spend as a family. No matter what, family will always be there, and there is nothing better in the world than sharing time with them! On Sunday night we went to Mario Batali's restaurant called Babbo. I will have a more extensive post about Babbo in a couple days. The restaurant was a great place to go and spend the night. Some of the food was simply outstanding:)

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the Golden Goggle awards. Everyone wore tuxedos and formal dresses. It was a very well done event. At 5pm all the athletes went to a VIP reception with the big donors of the USA Swimming Foundation. I really enjoyed meeting everyone. The beautiful thing about this event was that it brought people together that come from all walks of life, that were all unbelievably excited about the swimming in Beijing. As an athlete it is continually inspiring and invigorating to hear and see how excited people are/were about the Olympics.
I always tell everyone that the crazy thing about being in Beijing was that we had absolutely no idea of the impact we were making on the US. For two weeks we were living in a bubble. When I finally got back to the US I realized how excited people were/are. It makes me so proud to have represented the USA and to give so many people something to enjoy and get excited about.

When our 400 Free Relay was chosen as the best relay performance, the four of us marched up to the stage and all gave little speeches. I was the first to go. I was thinking later that night about something I wish I had said. I will tell ya'll so you know because it holds true for many of you too...

A dear friend told me last week that the US athlete's pursuit for Gold in Beijing represented the Hopes and Dreams of America. When he told me this I almost lost my breath and felt the most unbelievable sense of pride and dedication to America. What I think people really need to know is that all the Americans who have been there to support us and make our dream of going to the Olympics and competing possible, are really the ones deserving of the praise. I was able to go to the Olympics and do what I love to do best, compete. However, without the help of my family, friends, coaches, teachers, USA Swimming staff members etc. fulfilling my dream would never have been possible. The Golden Goggle I won is really a testament to all the support I have been given. My support staff is who really deserves this award!
In addition to the thrill and honor of the award, I met some really notable people as well. I got a chance to meet former NY Giants running back Tiki Barber. World famous magician David Blaine did some unbelievable card tricks with me and Dara.
I met and talked with Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. It was super interesting and unique to meet someone of such high stature. He is a man who really influences the laws that govern this nation. However, I have to say I met someone who, for me, literally Trumped Justice Alito...it was 'The Big D' aka 'The Donald' aka Donald Trump. I have read all of his books and have admired him as being an unbelievable businessman for many years. He presented the final award which was the male athlete of the year award. After he presented the award the festivities were over. I made my way over to the area I knew he would be coming out of. I got my picture with him and actually talked to him for about five to seven minutes. I was really surprised by how friendly and interested he was. He was asking me all about my experience in Beijing, and congratulating me on my award and my successes, it was great! He introduced me to his wife Melania. Wow she is even more gorgeous in person than she is in pictures.
This was definitely a night to remember:)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Plenty of Heat in the Kitchen

Almost two years ago, I bought the book HEAT by Bill Buford for Garrett. Much of the story is centered around Buford becoming a kitchen slave at Mario Batali's restaurant Babbo in New York. I have tried to get reservations on several occasions. Garrett finally got them last night. He'll tell the story later. It was lots of fun.--Posted by Garrett's dad

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bang Bang Bang

Tuesday morning my mom came down to Texas to visit me for a few days.

Thursday morning I'm sleeping in my bed, all of a sudden I hear Bang Bang Bang. I was half asleep when I heard the noise, I didn't really think anything of it. The next thing I know my Mom comes in my room and says, "Garrett, wake up, there are two guys from USADA (the US Anti-Doping Association) downstairs that are here to drug test you." I barely believe her. I look over at my clock and it shows 6:34am. I throw on some shorts and a shirt and go downstairs to greet two guys with bright smiles on their faces ready to take a urine sample from me... To say the least, I was not too enthused that on my morning to sleep in I was woken up at 6:34am to drug test. However, these guys are just doing their job and I appreciate the work they do, so I was very friendly!

It turns out these guys drove in from Houston just to drug test me...can you believe that? About 20 minutes after they arrived, they were gone. My mom had gone out walking and I was sitting at my dining room table by myself. I was wishing they had come an hour earlier so I could have at least gone to practice. Oh well, I guess this is the life of an Olympic Athlete...

The second Bang of the day was after practice in the evening. This one actually hurt... I ride my bike to practice everyday and was on my way home when I found myself in the air over my handlebars. I have absolutely no idea what happened...I just remember flying over the handlebars and in mid-air I locked in on the ground I was about to hit and yelled, "Oh #$%@." Luckily I was wearing my helmet. I scraped up my hands and knee but otherwise walked away without serious injury.

This day had a bit too much Bang in it for me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Boggy Creek Farm

Today I ventured to a very unique spot in Austin called Boggy Creek Farm. If you are looking for a classic Austin spot this is definitely it. This farm/market is located on the east side of Austin and is literally in the middle of a residential community, it's a weird spot for a farm. Boggy Creek grows all of its own fruits, veggies and herbs. They harvest whatever the season brings and sell it every Wednesday and Saturday. They also sell things such as local honey, grass fed lamb, bison, locally made cheeses and a unique smoke-dried heirloom tomato. The tomatoes are really intense!

I totally love these kind of places. Everyone that works there knows all about the produce. They are all happy to share their experiences and stories of the farm as well as their knowledge of gardening. If you want to cook incredible dishes you need fresh ingredients. I'm so happy I found out about Boggy Creek so I can get fresh, hand picked goods to prepare for my meals. If you live in Austin I definitely recommend you check it out, if not...sorry.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Motivation in Unique Ways

I took this picture of the scoreboard during the final of the 50 Freestyle of the Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately I was in the stands taking this picture because I failed to qualify for the final of the 50 free just as I did for the 100 free. Both were huge disappointments for me not only because I had high expectations of winning medals, but because I felt like I let America down in not representing better. It wasn't until I actually got to the Olympics that I realized how meaningful it was to wear the American flag on my cap. Unfortunately this time around I was not able to wear that flag for what would have been the two most important individual swims of my life:(

As I snapped this picture I had an empty feeling inside me. A feeling of disarray that I still don't know how to best describe or make sense of. There have been few times in my swimming career when I honestly have no idea what happened at a particular meet. Generally I can always pinpoint things that went wrong, reasons why I didn't perform like I wanted to, or reasons why I swam unbelievable. Watching that 50 free final and even today I don't know what happened in my individual races at the Olympics? I wasn't nervous, I was well prepared, I stayed on my strict diet as best I could, I wasn't sick, my races were swum to the best of my ability at that time...I just didn't have it, what I had just wasn't enough. It's crazy for me to say that because that's one of the few times, if not the only time, I can say I did everything right I possibly could and just didn't have what it took to get the job done.

The interesting thing about swimming and I think life in general, is that we don't need to know all the answers, at least not right away. I'm content for right now not knowing what went wrong. I know in time, like everything else, I will figure this out and do it better next time. My mom always tells me, "everything happens for a reason." I completely believe this. For now, I just don't know the reason.

I didn't know specifically what I would use this picture for at the time, but I needed to take it because somehow down the road it would fuel my fire. I knew I was going to look at it in the future and become motivated by it. Last night I was preparing for my first morning practice of this new season. I hate morning practice. It isn't the swimming I hate, it isn't event he early wake-up I hate. I hate diving into that cold water. If you tell me to wake up at 5:45am and lift weights or run or bike I would say, great. However, that cold water does something to my mind that is just not good.

So last night I knew what I had to do. I hung this picture of the 50 free final in my bathroom. I understand this is a bit more detail than might be needed but I need to tell you the truth. The bathroom is the point during every early morning when I say to myself, "I hate morning practice." This is when I need the motivation. This morning I looked to my right and instead of saying, "I hate morning practice," I said, "%#@* that, I don't ever want to miss another final again." It was just what I needed to wake myself up and get my mind ready and excited for the morning practice I had ahead of me. I urge all of you to motivate yourself in unique ways. Do something different, find things that work for you. I find the best motivation comes in little instances I know I will need a helping hand!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm a Godfather

I am now officially a Godfather. My Godson, Joe Roy Stapleton was baptized today at the United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas. I was a bit surprised at how short the ceremony was, five minutes. I really didn't know quite what to expect but it was very nice.

After the baptism we all went to the most amazing brunch at Fonda Son Miguel. This restaurant has a historic Sunday brunch that the New York Times once called one of the top 10 best brunches in American! The items consist of everything from different types of traditional Moles to corn pudding, pickled vegetables, guacamole, ceviche, and several wonderful desserts including the best tres leches cake I have ever had. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "he's eating dessert?" Yes I do eat desserts from time to time. Remember, the key to a healthy lifestyle is moderation and being consistent in both your diet and in exercise.

Tomorrow morning I will be getting up dark and early to head to my first morning practice of this new season. I'm not particularly looking forward to it but understand its importance in helping me get in the kind of shape that will help me succeed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Ft. Lauderdale Boat Extravaganza!

As many of you already know, I went to Ft. Lauderdale last weekend to visit an old coach of mine named Jack Nelson. It was wonderful to see coach Nelson and his wife and stay with them at their home. They have a beautiful house right on the intra-coastal waterway. His house is directly across from the Hall of Fame pool where he coached. This area is also where the Ft. Lauderdale International boat show was held.
This is me standing in Jack's front lawn with the boat show super-yachts in the background.
Coach Nelson and I played bumper pool and watched Texas football until 1am...it was a Blast!!!

The boat show was amazing. I probably went on over 30 boats of all types. I went on sport-fishers, trawlers, super-yachts, and weekend-cruisers. You name it, the Ft. Lauderdale show has it. Literally they have every kind of boat imagineable. It is the largest boat show in the world!

As I stated in my previous blog post about the boat show, my dream is to one day own a long-range trawler that I can cross oceans on. The specific brand I want to own is called a Nordhavn. I thought they were awesome just reading about them and seeing them in videos. When I actually got on three of them at the show I fell in love, literally. The most amazing thing about these boats is that everything serves a purpose. Nordhavns are specifically designed with crossing oceans in mind. Everything from the layout of the engine room, storage compartments and the location of the state-rooms are taken into account before the designs are finished. I boarded these boats and was just blown away. The capability and livability of these vessels is what really enthralls me. Me in the pilot-house of the Nordhavn 76. It's crazy how many electronics these things have...Checking out the engine room of the 76. It would take me a long time to learn all this machinery.I'm currently on lookout on the bridge of my favorite, the Nordhavn 62 YAAAAAYYYYY!
This is the 152 foot, 30 million dollar super-yacht I got a private tour of. Gorgeous.
I'm sure this solid gold sink and faucet have something to do with the 30 million dollar price tag.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Every Little Bit Makes a Difference

Getting back in shape is a tough challenge. I've really enjoyed my time in the weight room and the pool since I've been back in Austin. It's exciting for me to see my body become more fit as time goes on. Although I am not anywhere near the shape I will be in at the height of my training, I enjoy the struggle in getting there.

Today when I was in the weight room I did a dry-land routine that consisted of push-ups, dips, pull-ups, jumping rope, and a bunch of core work. One thing I like to do in dry-land is to get out of breath. I try and go from exercise to exercise with little rest in between. This gets my heart rate elevated and keeps it elevated. My thought process in doing this is that I am getting more and more aerobically in shape as well as training my muscles and mind to perform at a high exertion level for extended periods of time.

Although I am a sprint freestyle specialist there is no substitute for having a good aerobic base and becoming fit enough to perform for extended time intervals. Not only does this level of increased fitness put me in a better position physically to finish races, it makes my mind tougher as well. I know everything I do in workout makes me stronger, tougher and better prepared to achieve my goals.

Monday, November 3, 2008

gwgswims.com is reborn!

As of this morning gwgswims.com is a brand new website. Over the past month my Dad, Mom, our web guy, Chris, and I have been working to make the updated version. Not only does the site have a totally new face, there is more expansive content as well as never before seen pictures. Check out the new and improved gwgswims.com!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I just got back to Coach Nelson's house after spending the entire day at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. I was super excited the whole day. Imagine one of those guys you see walking around with a huge smile on his face--that was me. I thought I was in heaven.

The fun really started Friday when coach Nelson picked me up at the airport and we drove by the marinas. My eyes directly locked onto the Nordhavn 62. Literally the first boat I saw at the boat show was the 62. It must be a sign.

This morning, I started off by going directly to the Nordhavns. I toured all three: the 55, 62 and 76. After that I toured and talked to the makers of other long-range trawlers such as Krogen, Selene and Grand Banks. I really talked to everyone as if I were a prospective buyer. Truthfully I think I am. Without a doubt I will buy a boat in time. I guess now you know one of my long-range goals.

The most expensive boat I went on was a 152 foot Tri-deck made by Northern Marine. Talk about beautiful. This thing was gorgeous. It should be with a sale price of $30 million. I will have more details on the boat show along with a bunch of pictures after I get home to Texas.

Meanwhile staying with coach Nelson is great. He has tons of great stories about back in the day when he won gold and then made a huge impact on the sport as a coach.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ft. Lauderdale

This weekend I'm traveling to Ft. Lauderdale to stay and visit with a great friend and Coach who made a real difference in my life, Jack Nelson. Coach Nelson was a 1956 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 200 Fly as well as the World Record holder. He was also the US Olympic swimming head coach for women in 1976. Jack is the only person in USA swimming history to both compete in an Olympic Games and be a head coach of an Olympic team.

Coach Nelson was one of the first coaches who really recognized my talent as a swimmer. When I was younger my grandparents lived in Ft. Lauderdale and I trained with Coach Nelson on Winter and Spring breaks. He really made me believe I could do something special in swimming as well as ingrained in my mind that you must work hard for what you want. However, there are two things Jack has always told me that have made a huge impact on my life: 1, it doesn't matter how tall you are in the sport of swimming. 2, as long as you are continually getting faster the place doesn't matter. I have never been the tallest among my competitors and at times I was a little discouraged about it. Obviously Jack was right about size not being a factor. Secondly, he made me believe that it's not always about place. If you are improving that means you are obviously doing something right and need to stay consistent at it. There have been many times throughout my career when I didn't place as high as I would've liked, but was still getting faster. Even though I would sometimes feel a bit bad about the place, I generally always left these meets encouraged by my improvement due to Jack's motto. Even today I think about what he told me and still remind myself of this when I am not placing as high as I may like.

This weekend Ft. Lauderdale is hosting their annual boat show which is the biggest and most famous in the world. I literally cannot wait. I'm sure some of you already know this but I absolutely love boats and being on the water! I have a dream to someday circumnavigate the world on my own boat. There is a particular line of long-range trawlers that I intend to make this journey on. The company that makes them is called Nordhavn. Nordhavn will be showing three boats in the Ft. Lauderdale show, the Nordhavn 55, 62, and 76. I am scheduled to see all three and can't even stand myself I'm so excited. The amazing thing about these boats is that they are specifically made to cross oceans. I actually met with a guy named Jim a couple weeks ago who just took delivery of a brand new 55. My heart-rate and adrenaline were literally elevated the entire lunch just talking to him about his upcoming journeys.

Nordhavn 76
Nordhavn 62
Nordhavn 55
The 62 is my all-time favorite!!!

Here are a couple sites/blogs you may enjoy checking out that relate to Nordhavn's and the journeys people have taken on them...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Getting Back in Shape

Since I returned to the water two weeks ago I remembered something I had forgotten since last fall, how hard it is to get back in shape...  Training these past two weeks has been tough.  I feel like every year I get older, it is harder to get back in shape.  Although this is a bit discouraging, it makes me feel that much better when I finally become fit again!

I'm really looking forward to this upcoming season.  I'm confident I can become stronger and more fit than I have been in the past.  Ed always tells us that the beautiful thing about the sport of swimming is that generally if you work harder and prepare more thoroughly than your competitors you can put yourself in a good position to beat them.  I see this upcoming season as just another challenge to take on.  We shall see how it plays out in July...I'm so excited!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Always Evolving

I constantly think about my stroke. I try different head positions, different angles of my elbows through my pull, change the pitch of my hands as they enter the water. I am constantly looking for something to make myself better.

One of the keys to continually getting faster in the sport of swimming is to become more fine-tuned in the small, technical things every season. We must always continue to evolve our strokes, and discipline ourselves to fix our imperfections. Luckily swimming gives us so much time and repetition to continuously fine-tune. I can definitively tell you what I have done every single season to make myself better than I was the year before. Can you tell me, or your coach this same type of thing? If not, start thinking about it more...

The reason I know I must continue to perfect my stroke is because my body still changes shape a little every season, because I continually get stronger, and because I never think my stroke is good enough. For example, my head position this summer might not put my body at the same position next summer, if I gain three or four pounds of muscle. Maybe I'm stronger now so I can have even higher elbows through my pull. There are a number of different things we must all look at in our strokes in order to adapt to the changes our bodies go through each and every season.

I will tell you flat out. If you want to be successful in swimming, work on your technique everyday. If you fail to work on your technique you will not improve in the long-term. Swimming is about being efficient, and maximizing every ounce of power and energy our body gives us. We cannot take anything for-granted nor waste energy. Start working on your stroke today so you can be more fine-tuned tomorrow!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Summer of My Life

This past summer was absolutely the most fulfilling, exciting, pleasurable and down right fun summer of my entire life. I want to share these special memories with all of you.

The summer started with my graduation from the University of Texas. I then went to Omaha for the Olympic Trials. From Omaha the Olympic team traveled to Palo Alto, California for an Olympic training camp. We continued our Olympic training camp in Singapore and finally went on to Beijing for the Olympic games. This is the time-line of my summer.

Remember this is a blog, part of this must consist of a dialogue between you(the readers) and me(the author). Post comments on the coming blogs. Ask me questions, tell me your thoughts. I want to know what you have questions about and what you're interested in.

Stay tuned as I begin to write about all the experiences that made this summer so spectacular!


Hook'Em Horns!!!

This picture is of me and Bevo, the Longhorn mascot for the University of Texas.

Saturday was a day filled with lots of tailgating and football. I went to practice in the morning and actually swam for about an hour and a half. This was longer than I had planned because my idea was to increase my time in the pool by five minutes per day. Yesterday I was supposed to swim for only an hour and ten minutes. Twenty extra minutes doesn't seem like much but twenty more minutes in a workout run by Eddie Reese can be a lot more than you would expect or want.

I finished practice and began tailgating. I love tailgating, it's a time to eat good food, prepare for the game, make predictions and hang out with friends.

The game started and Texas looked awesome. Our offense was clicking and our defense was making big stops!

I was on the field for the second half of the game. It was great to be so close to the action. You really get a sense for how hard the hits are because you can hear the plastic smashing together and the grunts of the players when they collide. Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens were about ten feet away from me on the sideline. I got a picture with Jeter. At one point they showed Jeter on the Jumbo-tron and the entire stadium started to boo him. It was crazy! I really have no idea why the Texas fans booed him, but it was quite comical to say the least.

In terms of Roger Clemens, I couldn't help but think what his current legal situation must be. My guess is that other people wonder the same thing? Who knows if we will ever find out the truth of that situation? Either way, it's sad that one of the best baseball players of all time is now tarnished forever.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Last night I became a Twitterer! Twitter is essentially a way for people to keep tabs on each other.

I can now be told on my computer or phone when my friends or family make status updates. The status updates give me a short blurb about what they are doing. You can all follow me on Twitter too! I will probably 'Twitter' more often than I will update my blog given the ease of updating. I can Twitter via my Blackberry.

If you would like to track me on Twitter my username is G_WeberGale.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fourth Day of Swimming

Wow...Today was my fourth day back in the water. Needless to say I almost forgot how boring training can be:( I am not in shape to train with the team yet considering I took two months off, so I am swimming by myself in the diving well. Training by yourself is lonely and tedious.

I did have a good set today though. I swam ten 200 freestyles on 2:30 and averaged between 2:03 and 2:05. Even though these are not that great of times in general, I was satisfied with my current fitness after taking such an extended break. At the end of the set I could tell that my arms were really starting to break down and get fatigued. I literally kicked the kick into high gear and tried to motor home. The great thing about swimming and working out in general, is that I always know it will get better. The harder I work, the more in-shape I become. The fitter I am, the less training and racing hurts. Although training is very strenuous on my mind and body, it's what puts me in a position to swim fast and achieve my goals at the end of the year.

I will keep ya'll updated with my swimming as the season goes on.

Luckily I stayed in the weight-room while I was on my break. The most important thing for me to do in order to get faster is to get stronger. The weight training I did in my time out of the water will help me lay the foundation for building greater strength throughout the course of this next season. Plus, I am not super sore right now which is always a huge positive!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More White House Pics

Here are some more pictures from the White House visit...
Posing at the news conference podium, right before I addressed the nation...ya right:P
Shawn, Nastia and I in the map room of the White House where we shot the video with Barney. This is the room where Eisenhower planned the D-Day invasion.
Barney, Ms. Beasley and I just chillin' at the White House...nothin' out of the ordinary hahaha
This is the picture I told you about...unfortunately Bush Baby isn't looking at the camera:(

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recipe Contest Winners!

This little guy's name is Kevin, he's 12. Kevin is the first winner in the Kid Recipe category of our contest on gwgswims.com. I'm very excited about this contest because it will help us all share and learn recipes that taste good and are good for you! Remember, these recipes are meant to be quick, easy and flavorful. Y'all need to check out Kevin's recipe, he obviously understands what quick, easy, and flavorful means!

The winner in the Adult Recipe category is a woman from Milwaukee named Angele!

White House

As many of you know I visited the White House this past week with many other Olympians.  We had a big celebration dinner at our hotel the night of the sixth.  It was nice to see many people on the swim team and other teams that I hadn't seen since Beijing.  The US Olympic Committee made a really cool highlight video of the events in Beijing that we all watched and ended up getting really pumped up to!

The morning of the seventh we all woke up and left the hotel by 6:30 am.  It ended up taking us about an hour and a half to actually get to the White House due to traffic.  We showed up and went through security to get onto the front lawn.  

I was taken into the first floor of the White House because Michael Phelps, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Luikin and I were in a video with the First Dog named Barney.  The past eight years Barney has had a video where he takes viewers around the White House and shows them the holiday decorations.  All four of us had individual roles and then we had a role with our fellow teammate.  Michael and I talked about swimming and the relay of course.  Shawn and Nastia told Barney it looked like his decorating job was a perfect 10.  The lines were all pretty corny but it was fun.  At one point I was sitting on the couch with Barney and discussing the decorations with him.  

We finished the taping and went out to the stage on the front lawn where President Bush was going to speak to us.  Shawn, Michael, Nastia and I all had marked spots right behind Laura Bush and President Bush.  It was really cool to see them.  He came out and shook our hands.  We all listened to him speak and then he came and talked to us briefly afterwards.  I got my picture taken with him but unfortunately the person taking the picture took it before he was looking at the camera:(

At the conclusion of the festivities outside, Michael and I were escorted inside and got a private tour of the White House with a secret service agent and a White House representative.  The coolest thing about the White House is certainly the history of the building, much more than the beauty of the decor.  It is nice inside but just thinking about what went on in all of these rooms is incredible.  The room we did the filming of the video in was the strategic meeting room where President Eisenhower planned the D-Day invasion.  Wow, Amazing huh!!!

My favorite part of the tour was when I stood and got my picture behind the podium in the news conference room.  There have been a lot of important speeches that have been given there and I was at the same spot...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bacchus Celebration Dinner

Wow I had the most perfect night on Monday!!!

A fine-dining restaurant in Milwaukee called Bacchus held an event of Olympic proportion in my honor and to raise money for the American Heart Association.

The event began promptly at 6:30pm.  Guests began to show up at 6:00 and were taken into the dining room at about 6:15.  In the dining room I set up a table of Olympic Memorabilia.  My medals were there as well as huge frames that are filled with Olympic tickets, credentials, pins, lanyards and other novelties.  

I began by talking to the audience about my Olympic experience.  I divulged the mystique of what the Olympic village was like, how phenomenal the Water Cube was, what the food was comprised of in Beijing, and of course how crazy that 400 Freestyle Relay was!  My talk at the beginning of the meal lasted for about 20 minutes.  I was really rushed because usually all that takes me at least 45 minutes to say ha ha.

The dinner consisted of four courses.  The first course was an Israeli Cous Cous with sugar snap peas, roasted peppers, roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, a bit of crumbled feta, topped with spinach and a lemon infused oil vinaigrette.  The second course was a knock off of my Salmon recipe.  We had salmon with tomato, red onion, Parmesan cheese all on top of fingerling potatoes and baby carrots.  After these two courses I talked for about 15 minutes about the food that made up the menu.  I thought it was important to let the audience know that the menu was prepared with a healthy low-sodium consumer in mind.  The reason for this is because I have high blood pressure and try to maintain a low-sodium diet.  I really attribute a lot of my success to eating healthy.  During this time I also talked about the product line of low sodium foods I want to start in order to help others eat low-sodium diets too.

The fourth course was a bison fillet with a bison and red wine reduction sauce.  The bison was set on top of steamed spinach and garlic.  Accompanying the bison were sweet potato wedge fries that were grilled.  This was an outstanding creation.  Finally the dessert was a flourless chocolate cake topped with mango sorbet and an orange cookie.  On the side was a raspberry coulis and chopped pieces of mango.  The dessert really topped the meal off well.

During the course of the night I made my way around and talked to every table.  It was important to me that I got a chance to really speak to everyone and thank them for coming.  Bacchus really did a wonderful job, I couldn't have been happier!  

One of the most exciting parts of the night for me was at the beginning when the special events manager for the restaurant, John, presented me with a chef's jacket with the Bacchus logo and my name embroidered on the front.  I literally felt like a million bucks walking around in that thing!!!!  Maybe it is a sign???

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