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If You Need Me, I’ll Be Over Here, Watching the Olympics

Ryan Lochte backstroke

If this doesn’t inspire you, I can’t help you.

Like everyone else with a functioning brain and access to the outside world, I’ve been aware of the impending Olympics for quite some time. And I’ve been excited about it—I’ve always, always loved the Olympics, and that hasn’t changed with time. But I guess I was sort of passively excited (is that a thing? I think it’s a thing) because now? OH MY GOD, I CANNOT WAIT.

What’s changed? Oh, nothing except the Olympic trials for swimming this week. This will be the first Olympics when I actually am a swimmer. I understand technique and have a true understanding of just what those record-breaking times mean to your average swimmer. (Spoiler: They are fast.)

That might sound silly, but I feel like some sports are really easy to appreciate regardless of your personal experience. In track, you can watch their feet fly. Gymnastics, well, come on. It’s amazing. Diving is similarly awe-inspiring. And we all have a feel for the amount of skill and athleticism team sports like basketball and volleyball require.

But with swimming, it’s a little different. The better you are, the easier you make it look. When Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps in the 400 IM on Monday night, both men were positively gliding through the water. Sure, their strokes were quick, but it didn’t have the frenzied look of a runner rounding the track; the movements were smooth, even, almost effortless.

I went to bed that night dreaming about swimming, and when I got to the pool the next morning for my 6:30 swim class, I kept those images in my mind. And it didn’t surprise me too much to hear my coach remark on how good my stroke looked compared to last class. How could it not improve with that kind of visual, that kind of inspiration? (And no, it doesn’t hurt that Lochte is a Gator and trained just a few miles down the road when he was in college. That’s some pretty solid motivation as well.)

Is it just me, or do the Olympics inspire you to be a better athlete? What sports will you be glued to this summer? —Kristen


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