Friday, July 31, 2009

Living and Learning...Sometimes the Hard Way

A chef I befriended last year in Singapore once wrote me a short and direct email after a disappointing swim I had in Beijing...he said, “the greatest test of courage in the world is to bear defeat without losing heart.” My heart was temporarily lost but has been recovered. I felt a bit defeated and lost partly due my nature of being very hard on myself at times and often expecting the world. This past swim season has been very difficult on my mind and body. I felt pressure from within my core to perform and out-do what I did last summer. My goal for the year was to do what I did last summer, but better. How did I prepare you ask? I worked my tail off spending many extra hours in the weight room and further refining my technique…I also sacrificed many things including going out with friends at times, desserts, going home to see my family, traveling and getting a break from the grind of training, and even some personal relationships which I deeply regret.

This summer was not, at first glance, what I had worked for, dreamt of, nor wanted. I never wanted to get third in the 50 and 100 freestyles at Trials. I never wanted to swim only the preliminary of the 400 free relay at World Championships (however this was the right coaching choice…I didn’t swim fast enough in the preliminary to deserve a spot on the finals relay). I never wanted to stress over the suit issue within myself, with my coaches and with others. I never wanted to push a good friend away in order to make myself better for swimming (which in actuality made it worse). The point is that it doesn’t always matter what we want or how hard we work to fulfill a dream. Life, as I’ve found out the hard way at times, doesn’t always follow a direct path. We must be pliable. What matters is how we handle situations we encounter that differ from what we expected…and how we frame the obstacles that try to alter our paths to success.

For much of my life I have tended to see mostly black and white, and no, I do not mean in a literal sense. Something was either going to help my swimming or not, make me happy or it was not, make me better or it was not. The first glance of this summer was not the beauty I had imagined it would be. The vibrant shades of the spectrum were non-existent. What was existent was something I rarely see, shades of gray. Sometimes it takes the unexpected, the disappointing, and even the negative cold edge of life for me to see what is truly the right way. This summer was a cold and sharp edge for me.

When I finished my race in Rome I immediately thought this summer, and in part, the past year, had been a waste. Nothing I did this summer was better than last summer. Part of me thought that was it. I wanted to give up on swimming. For a brief period I thought I was going to. What was all the hard work and sacrifice for if my year didn’t end in the success I had desired?

My mother always raised me to have confidence and truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Although it can feel like a bullet in the butt sometimes…I still believe this to be true. This summer of unexpected occurrences allowed me to see things I hadn’t before. Here is a small list of things I learned this summer that I will take through the rest of my life.

1. I need more tests/meets/reality checks along the way which will help me indicate where I am and what I need to do in order to get where I want to go (this goes for most things…not just swimming).
2. Trying to be better and do more things right will not work if I’m not happy doing it.
3. Work towards letting go of things I cannot control.
4. Don’t mistake swimming for being something bigger than it actually is. Swimming is swimming. Swimming is something I do, that has brought great joy and learning to my life, but it in no means defines who I am as a person.
5. Swimming is not more important than good personal relationships. Swimming will last for a little while…good personal relationships can and will likely keep me strong through the good and bad times, long after swimming is gone. Cherish those who really matter.

I'm not sure what the future holds. What I do know is that I am bouncing back from this stronger and smarter than I have ever been. There is so much I have already learned. Plus, I have already begun doing push-ups throughout the day...I will be up to 300 per day by the beginning of next week!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some Good Eatin'

Our waiter with the cuts of meat we can choose from
Assortment of meats and cheeses...figs are grown out back!
Davis, Dan and me at La Valley
Part of the outside seating at the beautiful restaurant we went to in the countryside!
Our outdoor training pool in Riccione

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

About to leave LA.
Our Jet once we landed in Italy
Just a peek at some of the snacks they had waiting for us
Chillin' before we took off
Cullen and Bob Bowman
Dara watching a movie
The incredible omelet Fred made for me! mmmm sooo good:)
The pilots doing their thing...they got us there safe

Friday, July 17, 2009


My trip to LA for the ESPYS was phenomenal. My sister Hillary met me out there for the awards. We both had an incredible time together. The entire trip was filled with excitement from start to finish. First we arrived in LA and checked into our hotel that was filled with all different sports stars and personalities. It seemed like everywhere we went we ran into people we were used to seeing on TV. One thing that is really apparent when you meet these people is that they are all very pleasant to talk to...they're real people too. I think sometimes society makes movie stars or sports stars seem like fictional characters who have super powers when in actuality they're just people like you and me. For example, I had a chance to talk with Pittsburg Steeler's quarterback Ben Roethlisburger for a bit after the ESPYS and he told me he still gets goosebumps every time he watches our relay (and he's won two Superbowls). Another guy I was really excited to meet was Donald Driver (wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers). I've been a Packer fan as long as I can remember and Donald Driver has always been one of my favorites. He has a wonderful reputation as being a great guy and through talking to him I can say this is totally true.One really spectacular and somewhat unexpected perk was the free stuff they gave us. I'm not talking about t-shirts, hats, and water-bottles. I'm talking about watches, designer sunglasses, cameras, ihome systems, PS3's, free trips, HD video projectors, BOSE speakers etc. They told us the total worth of the gifts we received was over $25,000! Can you believe that? I still barely can.
Once we got to the ESPYS we were taken to the 'red carpet' where they announced each star as they walked out of a door onto the 'red carpet'. The crowd claps and cheers and then you proceed to talk to other guests and take pictures. The only pictures I really got were from the 'red carpet' because once you got inside cameras were not allowed:( Some of the people I met were Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Aaron Rodgers, Jeremy Piven, Kent Desormeaux, Kevin Durant, Samuel L. Jackson etc.As the show started I was getting really excited and a bit nervous as to whether or not we would win the award for "Best Moment". Either way I felt really lucky to be there and was having an incredible time! When the moment of truth came I was getting really excited. When they showed the replay of our 400 Free Relay a tear almost came to my eye. I rarely ever watch that race unless I show it at an appearance or something so when I do see it the drama and excitement brings a lot of emotion back me. When they called out the "US Olympic Relay" I turned to my sister and gave her the biggest hug! Michael, Cullen and I went on stage and accepted the award. Jason was patched in on the video screen from Israel on a live was really sweet. After the award we were taken to do some interviews and take pictures. Now I understand why most people wear sunglasses when they get that many pictures taken of them...I could barely see because of all the flashes haha:PDay's like this really make me realize even more than usual how lucky I am and what an incredible life I have. I seriously think to myself sometimes and ask myself, "what else could I possibly want?" I'm very fortunate!
Thanks to all of you who have supported me and helped me fulfill my dreams...for without y'all none of this would have ever been possible.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flyin' High at 41,000 feet

Currently I'm sitting on a private jet with Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones and Dara Torres. We're at 41,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Last night at the ESPYS was incredible! I met so many amazing people...the likes of Mike Tyson, Jeremy Piven, Donald Driver, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Kent Desormeaux, Evander Holyfield etc. Leterally it was out of control. I will post a longer blog in the next few days when I get some more time...also with lots of pictures.

Dara is now talking on the phone, Michael is playing online poker across from me. I was just up talking to the pilots as they explained all the instruments to me and where we are. We have a personal steward who just brought me freshly made oatmeal with all the toppings. Oh and I had a chicken salad sandwich when I woke up that was outstanding!!! Now he's making me an egg-white omelet with spinach, feta cheese, ham and some other veggies.

We flew from LA to Minneapolis in order refuel. We all slept for about the first six hours of the we're just living it up baby!!!!

Win at ESPYS

Garrett and the relay team won an ESPY last night--pretty sweet stuff. It will be televised Sunday night. They hopped on a plane immediately to catch up with Team USA in Rome. More later.

You can read his string of tweets on Twitter to get a sense of it:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

LA Update

I just wanted to make a really quick update. I'm about to head off to practice here in LA. Swimming will be short and sweet but get some good sprints in. The day is pretty filled with ESPYS engagements and is going to be really a ton of fun. My sister got here last night and I'm so thrilled she could be here to experience all of this with me. Some of the day's events that I know of currently are, a special breakfast for all the guests, a gifting session where we get (supposedly) super cool stuff, pre-ESPY get together/party at the hotel, red carpet at the event, The ESPYS, not sure if we are going to go to any type of after party because they have a private jet waiting for us after the awards to take us straight to Italy. It's going to be an incredible day!!! I am so fortunate...and excited:)

Update from Garrett's dad

At Nationals last week, Garrett punched his ticket to Rome in the 4 X 100 relay. That's pretty great in my book, but he wanted to do better in individuals--third in the 100 and 50. He was disappointed and never really felt his stroke kicked in the way he wanted. They tried a few different things this year in training. I try to remind him the tweaks made over the past nine months will pay off in the long run. Patience, my son.

Tonight he and the relay team are at the ESPY awards in L.A. Then off to Rome. I am sure he will update as things settle in once they get to Italy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Got to Indy Safely

Hi y'all! Sorry for the lack of posts. I got to Indy safely. I've been feeling pretty good in warm-ups and shaved today. I swim the 200 free tomorrow morning. I'm really looking forward to getting the meet started:) I'll try to update if/when I can. I honestly don't really feel like writing or doing much of anything during meets. Your best bet is to follow my Twitter. Thanks for all the support!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

News 8 Austin Story

You may like to check out this news story done on me this past week.

Click Here

Ugh I'm so stir crazy it's ridiculous...someone please come entertain me...

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