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I haven’t blogged in a while.  My dear friend Louis gets upset when I don’t blog, much like a nervous mom gets upset when you don’t call home often enough. 

Sorry, Louis.  I’ve been busy!  I do owe you a “Dear Louis” blog.  That will come shortly, but today, I am inspired to blog on a different topic.

It’s ThrowBack Thursday, and what better to blog about than a throwback moment for 26 years ago.

The Women’s NCAA Swim and Dive Championships are taking place this weekend in…..well, I have no idea where.  Time and distance from the sport has made details like that irrelevant to me. 

But even with all that time and distance from the sport, 2 phenomena still have impact with me today.  1) I have a grand appreciation for the Christmas holidays when I am NOT immersed in Christmas training and 2) early spring means taper time, and even though that’s not the case for me now, I still get just a little excited, come the 3rd week in March.

One of my former teammates has come full circle and is attending the Women’s NCAA Swim Championships (which, not surprisingly, allow equal number of female participants as male participants in their championship meet one week from now…..eggh-heem #50WomenToKona) as a parent.  She tweeted out a photo of our NCAA Championship Team from 26 years ago.  Other teammates chimed in and posted photos from the meet and I got incredibly nostalgic looking at them.

 

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On the faces of the women in the photos, I saw the impact each of them had on me as a person, and therefore as an athlete. 

That 1989 team was special.  As freshman, we were recruited (or not…..(walk-on)) by a coach who then retired as the prior school year came to a close.  We packed our bags for school, not knowing who our coach would be.  For the upperclassmen, it was “worse”.  They’d swum for their coach for 1-3 years already, gotten used to his program and now, were facing what would be a radical change.

In walks Richard Quick; arguably one of the best coaches in the world, but with a drastically different style than his predecessor.  The year was a shock for the entire squad.

Going into that meet, our squad was “below the radar” to say the least.  Our freshman class was massive, but entirely unknown.  We had one Olympian in our midst, but even she was discounted as an Olympian from another country…..so that doesn’t “count”.  We had one National Team member who was touted as the best of the bunch, and the rest of us were….well, not headliners.

The rest of the squad, while upperclassmen, were much the same.  People just weren’t talking about Stanford Women’s Swimming, going into that meet.  Richard, it seemed, had some “rebuilding” to do with our squad and it was thought it might take years to bring the program to a Championship level.

As the meet progressed, however, we not-so-quietly stormed the field.  We didn’t do it with win after win after win.  We did it with 3rds and 5ths.  11ths, 12ths and 15ths.  We realized the power of team in an individual sport.  What each of us as individuals could not achieve alone, we could achieve together.

We quietly became the 1989 NCAA Champions and re-sparked a dynasty.

 

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So why do I blog about it now?  I think about that team often in the years since I joined Siri’s squad. In my career as a triathlete, I’d mostly trained in a squad of 2.  I use the term “squad” loosely, as it was mostly me, just trying to keep up with Karen Smyers.  I’m not really sure what Karen got out of the deal, except maybe that I kept her more on time than she might have been, left to her own devices. 

But coming to Siri’s squad, I was reminded of some of the great Stanford teams I had the great privilege to be a part of.  You see, despite the fact that triathlon is entirely an individual sport (minus those who bend the drafting rules and team time trial the bike), but I’ve always viewed it slightly differently.

The power of team means that what each of us as individuals cannot achieve alone, we can achieve together.  When I toe the line in a race, it is me, and me alone.  Like Stanford, those who are my teammates become my rivals.  But day-in-day-out, we are a team.  That means that I lean on them, and yes….take from them to get better.  I desperately try to hold Jodie’s wheel, or stay on MB’s feet in the pool.  But I give to them by showing up every day and giving my best in an effort to push them to be their best.

So I look at the faces of those incredible women in 1989 and I thank them for pushing me to be my best and for allowing me to realize the value of a great team.  It makes me appreciate the team I have around me now.

  Hail, Stanford!

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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