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.


Isa said...

Congratulations on the award! You absolutely diserved it. Although I´m portuguese and I like to swim, the only thing that motivates me the most to watch the Olympic Games is just watch you (american swimmers) breaking records. You are all really awesome!!
Good luck in Rome and I'll definetly watch you guys :)

Jeff Lee said...

obligatory "which one's your sister":P haha but I do apologize if all three of them are your girlfriends... but wow... 25000 worth of free stuff!

I think your comment about people you normally see on TV as real people holds alot of water: people are more similar than they are different and the job has its stresses, rewards, money, obligations just like everyone else

Really looking forward to the 4x100 in Rome

J said...

Dedication and great to see geunine people representing US and swim community....ROCK ON AT WORLDS!

TimTheSwimmer said...

It's great to see that you're still humbled by all that you have accomplished and make people feel like you are a "real person" too.

Buona fortuna a Roma!

Mikayla Cooke said...

You have worked very hard to get where you are today & you inspire me not only to keep my swimming up (even on the hard days) but in my personal life as well!

home exchange said...

Congratulations! That's brilliant! The photos look very glamorous! :-)

Erik Sterne said...

You are a Great swimmer, foodie, and a MOT, you are great. Keep it up, like Dara. It will never get old, and neither will we. Eat smart and swim fast. go USA.

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