(My frozen mustache)Finally I'm sitting back at my desk in my own house in Austin, TX. January 8th I left Austin to go train in Clearwater, FL with Randy Reese. We arrived to amazingly cold weather along with a very warm welcome by the man himself, Randy. In my mind, Randy is undoubtedly one of the greatest coaches in the world. Last January was my first trip to train with Randy and the experience with Randy’s was so great that I had to go back for more. He gave me a lot more. Over the course of the three weeks I was down there with him he royally whooped my butt in the pool. He had one main goal, to make me cry, he failed miserably. However he definitely made me feel like I'd been put in a grinder.
One of the big inspirations of going to FL was to give my mind some new scenery. Training day in and day out in the same facility can get old sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love Texas, the Texas swimming program, my coaches and my life in Austin but the truth is sometimes I need a refresher. From the moment I got down to FL I was racing new people, swimming new sets, driving new roads and having new conversations. The intent worked, I was very happy getting a change of pace.
After my training trip in FL I traveled to Colorado Springs. USA Swimming is based there and they asked me to come up in order to sit in front of a panel and answer questions. Travel to beautiful Colorado Springs and answer questions? Sure I'll do it...what an easy and honoring task! My stay was wonderful in CO. There was an option to stay at the Olympic Training Center or in a hotel but luckily I have some great friends there that I stayed with. We had a wonderful time catching up and also went to a delightful dinner.
While up in Colorado I was asked to talk to a swim team in the area. I happily accepted. One of the things I truly enjoy and am deeply honored to do is talk to kids. It's truly incredible and no doubt I'm very fortunate to have people take my words as meaningful. The kids are always happy to learn and never cease to entertain...we even got an eight year old girl to sing Jingle Bells!
The trip finished off with an unforgettable highlight...snowboarding in Breckenridge. The plan was to mix business with some extreme pleasure. Success! It had been since 1997 that I'd snowboarded on a mountain in Colorado. Eight of us trekked out to Breck to enjoy the sunny skies, loose powdery snow and great company. The morning of the trip I woke up naturally at 5am. Many many many mornings I've arisen at 5am and never once that I can remember was I this happy to be awake. On the car ride to Breck I could barely contain myself. The other people in the car were like, "Dude we're not even there yet." No matter, I was pumped. The day ended up being perfect. One of my huge dreams is to one day have a place out at a ski resort in Colorado! What a magnificent trip. However, it feels great to finally be home. (Our crew at the top of Imperial Bowl)