Monday, August 20, 2012

Closing Ceremonies - Olympic Thanks


Alright everyone. It's been a while, but after a good amount of time without a blog post, I need to wrap it all up until my blog is needed once again. 
It's time for me to hand over the torch (so to speak) to some of my good friends on their way to the Paralympic Games in London to compete soon!  Wish them all luck! (Especially my good friend Jessica Long!) GO USA!!!

Me at closing ceremonies!
Closing was great, it was basically like a big concert! There were performances by so many people, the Spice Girls even made a showing! People broke out into song and dance at random. Unlike the Opening where the athletes walked in as countries and was moved into the center, the closing was literally a free for all. Me and a few other athletes actually momentarily lost the rest of our delegation on the walk from the village to the Stadium! It was a gigantic athlete mosh pit the entire way in and during! Russel Brand also rode in on a 70's like painted bus, which was super entertaining. There was so much going on the entire time I can't even remember it all! Though I do have to say, not really sure what the glow-in-the-dark Gigantic Octopus that came out of that bus had to do with anything haha though it was memorable!

Also probably one of my favorite things, it was before they extinguished the flame, they had opened the torch into a blossom basically, and had a Phoenix (on fire mind you!) over it. With the Olympic rings as it's back ground, another favorite picture moment:

Some person's hand/camera got in the way!
It's so cool looking! Maybe I'm just a sucker for night time photos. And the rings and Phoenix mix both my favorite things. The Olympic Games, and Harry Potter. (goodness I'm a nerd! haha!)

On a slightly different note, after a long journey from Indianapolis to Mentor, Ohio for a friends bridal shower, and then from there to good ol' Oklahoma City I'm finally home. Lots of driving, and LOTS of music on shuffle. I also put Pandora to work and listened to a large amount of comedy acts on my lonesome drive across country. It gave me time to think of all the people that have helped me get to where I am today. A few days ago, m
y duet partner Mariya sent out a large list of Thank You's, and I felt like it was a great idea. So as much as I know she hates it when I copy her, I'm copying her idea anyway. :)



THANK YOU!

My Parents - 
For always believing in me. You've done so much for me and supported me through everything I've ever done!
George - For putting up with my craziness, and being the best shoulder to lean on whenever I needed you
Coach Robert Coleman - My favorite Coach, someone who even though I'm not in the same sport has been one of my biggest supporters through my Olympic Journey
Duke Zielinski - For the amazing amounts of support I've received over the last few years, and thank you for how much you've cared about the girls on the National Teams through your term as President of USASynchro
Karen and Sarah - For showing me around London, and providing amazing insight to the ins and outs of being an Olympic athlete
Sue Baross Nesbit - 
For graciously helping the 1st National Team by Mayu's side at the Olympic Qualifiers in London
Cate - You have been the best alternate athlete I could dream of. You were always so happy to help in any way you could
Holly Heitzman - For keeping me in one piece and being our "table psychologist" :)
Chris Carver - For pushing me past my limits and caring so much about me through the ups and downs
Dana Hunt - My first Synchronized Swimming coach! You started this journey, and I still can't believe I've made it this far! Thank you so much for helping me begin turning my dream to reality
Claire Evans - The one who started this ENTIRE thing. The girl I've known since she was 6 years old and we swam on the same team together. The girl who got me involved in synchro and swam as my duet partner for the first few years of my career
Victoria Bowen - One of the many people I took Private Lessons from before I won Age-Group nationals in solo as the younger person in my age-group. Thank you SO much for helping me along the way
Anna Kozlova - Someone I've always looked up to, even before you became my coach. You were an Idol of mine, and have continued to be this day.
Bill May -For telling me at my first SCAmp to never put in a crane in my Solo, because I was bad at them. Look at me now! You've been a great support and amazing athlete to look up to
Joel Pashcow -For believing in me and our journey to the Olympic Games, and thank you for attending the Olympics to be supportive in person                            
St. Vincents - Everyone there has been supportive in all aspects of my life over the past year and a half. From injuries, to workouts, to nutrition, to psych, to even just being there as someone to talk to when I had a bad day. Y'all have been amazing
Ireland's NAC - For all of the support we have received as "Ireland's team" everyone was so nice and helpful, so glad I could represent the USA and Ireland together 

Pirouettes of Texas -The team that started it all, thank you to the entire team for supporting me even when I moved to California to train with SCA 
Santa Clara Aquamaids - Thank you for helping me reach my full potential with the elite level training and the dedication to the pursuit of excellence
My teammates -For always being there, cheering on the sidelines when we were doing those awful weight sets, and always being there with a smile on your faces
Special Thanks to ALL of my Duet Partners -- 2002-2005 Claire Evans (listed above), 2006/2007/2008 Nadia Rais, 2006 Ali Williams, 2009 Layla Smith, 2010 Meghan Kinney (Tech Duet), 2011 Megan Hansley, 2011 Lyssa Wallace, 2012 Mariya Koroleva (Listed Below) - Y'all have been so important on my journey through the years in Synchro, and I want to let you all know how much you mean to me. You've been with me through the best times, and the worst times, and it's made me a better person thanks to each and every one of you

And lets not forget my Coach:
Mayu - Who has been to the pool everyday with us during the last year and a half, and stood smiling on the side while we performed our routines

And Last but not least:                                                                               Mariya - My Olympic Duet Partner, who in the last year has shared with me the high's, and some extremely rock-bottom low's. You were there for me whenever I needed a hand squeeze, and we will forever be in the history books as 2012 Olympians. Glad you were there to experience it all with me 

One of my favorite Competition Pictures


Well that's all I have for now, hope everyone has enjoyed my blog and will follow me on Twitter (@marykillman) and like me on Facebook (/marykillman) !
Feel free to send me messages if you have any questions, or you just want to chat! The blog will not be closed down, just temporarily put aside until it is needed once again. My Olympic experience has definitely been one for the books, but I'm glad it happened. I'm so proud to be able to call myself an Olympic athlete, and have worked very hard to get to where I am today. So what do I do now?

...

Rio anyone? :D

--Mary

Friday, August 10, 2012

Olympic Day - ??

Alright everyone! I'm sorry, I failed miserably over the last few days on updating this blog. My apologies. The last two competition days went by like a whirl wind!

Our prelims swim didn't go as well as we had planned, but finals we were super happy! To come as far as we have is fantastic, and I know this is an experience I'll never forget. Also, I remembered the knoxing thing! People have been asking what it actually looks like...crazy I know. But here ya go! Step by step.

The objects needed
So that's what it all looks like before the process begins. We have to make sure our hair is wet, and brush it up into a tight pony tail. I just use one hairband wrapped 4 times, but some uses 2 hairbands to make it extra tight! A comb is used to make sure your hair is smooth after the hairband is put in. After that's in place, I take my hair into two pieces, braid them separately, and then wrap them around into a bun. Using those hairpins to pin it in place before putting a hair net on it! (no, not over my entire head, just wrapped around the bun! Think ballerina.) Weird right? Then comes the Knox. 3 packets, and some borderline boiling hot water later, we end up with this:

Gooey Knox before it's put on our head

Looks disgusting right? Oh well! Then you have to take that paint brush (which some will recognize as a brush used for putting on hair color) and literally "paint" it on your head. It depends on the consistency of the knox, and how tightly you did your hair as to how well it's going to turn out. Spain's knox is always perfect, and I have yet to figure out how they do it. Until then, this is the end result!

Mind the crown...

My coach refuses to let hair fall into our face as we swim, so she tends to give us what we call a bobby-pin crown. The knox keeps our hair out of our face, but it does only take water to get it out. If you're in it enough, the knox melts right out! So if it's not a good knox job, you end up with hair in your face while you swim and that's just really not a pretty picture.

I'm sure I left out a few steps, like making sure you stir the water until you don't see any more bubbles, and use a comb to begin if you really need to get the knox deep into your hair, and how it starts out gooey and if you walk outside in the cold it'll automatically freeze to your head...details like that. haha but you get the idea!

Suits courtesy of my AMAZING mother!!!
I still don't think it's fully hit me that I can officially call myself an Olympian. It just feels like the end of another international competition! As if I'm going to go back home, take like 3 days off and go back to practice. Not how I'm going to be going home, packing my things, and then not really slowing down from visiting people until mid-september! Craziness I know. Really though I've had an amazing experience, and it's not over yet! Our competition is done, but there is still a few days left before we leave to go back to the States. There's also Closing Ceremonies to look forward to!!! I'll always remember that moment when we were standing on deck for our Finals swim though. Talk about energy.

How cool!?
That photo was taken by an NBC reporter who has followed my trip to the games from Dallas. Great guy!

Now that I'm done with competition, I can really enjoy London. I've been to the P&G house, where there's anything you could DREAM of. There's huge TV's, there's 3 different places to eat, gigantic pillows mixed in with the couches and tables and chairs, a salon, a Mancave, it's amazing. There's also a USA house, where all the USA athletes plus family and friends can go to relax and just hang out. They have a USA store there too. How awesome is that?

My parents were here to see me and I can't say how much it meant to me. We went sight seeing, and of course saw the most important things:

I knew I wasn't a muggle
Three cheers for all the Harry Potter geeks out there like me. haha! I was told I looked like Hermione Granger as a child, though I'm not sure how much like Emma Watson I look now. Either way, my parents made sure to head to Platform 9 & 3/4 because of how HUGE of a fan I am. I even perfected my british accent thanks to memorizing ALL of Hermione's lines in the first movie. I'm such a geek. And I'm totally okay with it! I wanted to really go on a full tour of all the Harry Potter movies scenes and what not, but we ran out of time and I wasn't able to. Oh well, we got the important sight seeing done anyways.

Okay, lets be honest. I'm one of the biggest Harry Potter fans you could possibly ever meet. So comparing the next picture with the one just above, it hits an all time tie.

Tower of London with the Olympic Rings
The Olympics have been my dream, and have officially become my reality. On my parents last night in London, we took a boat ride at night on the Thames and got to see the Olympic rings really shine. So out of the three pictures, this takes the cake no doubt. :)

Night time!
Talk about breath taking right?! My parents have a few photos of me in front of the rings, both day and night time views, but this might forever be one of my favorite pictures. And it was taken on my phone?! Oh technology.

Anyways, we've got a few days of down time, and then closing ceremonies. I'll be sure to take pictures! Hope yall have all enjoyed keeping up with my Olympic Journey, and thank you SO much for being a part of it through this entire time.

Until the next post!
--Mary

p.s.
Check out BSU at the Games: Under the Water with U.S. Synchro It's pretty awesome.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic Day 12 - Tech Duet

Well everyone, hope a bunch of people tuned into NBC to watch Mariya and I start off the Olympic Games for Synchronized Swimming! What a rush! I can't explain the energy that I felt as I walked out on deck.

But before that, we had a bunch of practice! We started out the day bright and early, alarms going off at 5:45 so that we could be hitting the water by 7:15. We had a short practice with music in the Competition pool, then we got out to knox. I know I promised some shots of the knox prep, but I'll try to get that to yall tomorrow.
Mayu got in on some of the action too and helped us pin our head pieces!

Mariya being pinned
We ate lunch, and then after all that was done, a few moments of relaxation (which lasted all of about half an hour) and then back to the pool. We had more warm-up time in the Comp pool, so that we could take our time and get even more used to our surroundings. This 30-45 minutes is basically a free for all. All the duets in that section are allowed in the pool at once, so if you're not careful you can run over someone! (Or be the unfortunate one who is run over...) Not a contact sport hmm? Haha

Luckily after that we had some down time to put our legs up, do our makeup:

Hey look it's ME!

and get ready for competition...but the prep isn't over yet!
2:00 rolls around and we're back in the pool matching and going over last minute things before we compete. We have to be in the last call room with 15 minutes till we swim, which in our case was the start of the entire competition! As I said earlier, I can't even explain to you how the entire moment felt. One point, we're in the ready room. Talking to each other about what we need to remember, where we need to press higher, making sure we remembered our walk out, and then it was time! We stood in this hallway for a few moments before actually walking out to the base of the platform stairs. There were SO many people!!! And so many American flags! Unfortunately, our family's were in the corner (with a great view of the diving well mind you, but we swim in the competition pool!) so they got a slightly far away angled view of our routine. So the big screen that showed the routine as we went was probably really helpful on their end!

Our Deckwork, Aretha would've been proud

Although, I do have a small warning. Don't watch the screen while you're competing! Our deck looks straight at the video, the problem is that it is slightly delayed, so what you see up there has already happened. Not gonna lie, there was a point during our walk out that I saw the screen and was VERY confused as to why my counts weren't matching up with what I saw. Thank goodness I didn't miss any steps because of it!

Then the music started, and we hit the water. We went through the entire routine, and hearing the cheers every time we came up was amazing. There were so many people behind the judges in the stands that you couldn't pick out just one person. It was a mass of colored dots. At the end, I could take it all in. We were done! The slow-mo replay at the end showed one of our elements looking amazing, so we both had a huge smile on our face as we walked up to get our scores. So did Mayu!

Captured off a friends phone, which is of her computer

Okay, not the best picture, but check out the applause! haha

After we competed, we had to wind through some media. Now, it's not as crazy as maybe some of the swimmers got, but we got our share. Answered some questions, and Mariya even spoke to a reporter in Russian. I really need to learn another language...

Our hard work isn't over yet though. Yeah, thought we were done after we competed hmm? Nope! We changed, and it was back in the pool to begin preparing for our Free routine tomorrow. Ankle weights on, and going through the routine. No worries, this happens at all competitions. Imagine what we would've been doing if this were a World competition, and we had two more team routines, and I might've had a solo as well to compete with!

Alright, well that's all I've got for today...I'm off to an early bedtime haha
G'night! Until tomorrow...FREE DUET!!!



--Mary

P.s. 

Competition Schedule (All times local) - Aquatics Centre
Sunday, Aug. 5 - Qualification Duet Technical: 3-4:50 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 6 - Qualification Duet Free: 3-5:25 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 7 - Duet Final: 3-4:30 p.m.

NBC Broadcast schedule (All times Eastern)
Sunday, Aug. 5 - Qualification Duet Technical: 10-11:50 a.m., NBC Sports Network
Monday, Aug. 6 - Qualification Duet Free: 12:45-1:15 p.m., NBC
Tuesday, Aug. 7 - Duet Final: 4-4:45 p.m., MSNBC


* NBCOlympics.com will also stream every event live online at:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/online-listings/sport=synchronized-swimming/index.html




Saturday, August 4, 2012

Olympic Day 11

Unfortunately I don't have much time to write tonight. We compete in our Technical Duet even tomorrow, and I need my sleep! We're up first so we're going to be opening the Synchronized Swimming portion of the Olympic Games with what we hope is a show stopping routine! It's going to be upbeat, and amazing! So all yall USA supporters out there better be chanting when we walk out on deck!

I just opened a letter that I wrote to myself a while back. And as lame as it seems, it's actually really great. I remember writing it and thinking "This is ridiculous. I'm giving my future self a pep-talk!" But honestly, it's exactly what I needed. It also had a great quote in there:

"You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win"
-Zig Ziglar


I haven't the slightest idea who that is, but it's words I'm taking to heart. Always see yourself standing on the podium, because the moment you think you can't make it...you never will. On another note of Quotes, just because I'm in the mood right now, Denise (our awesome manager remember?!) wrote Mariya and I a card for every day that we're here. I forgot about the one yesterday, but they both have great quotes in them. She knows how much inspiration we need to be able to swim our best tomorrow:

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." 
-Darryl Royal

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act, but a habit."
-Aristotle

I like quotes! Although I have to say my favorite is still:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain."
-Vivian Greene


It is now time for me to head to sleep. However, if you follow me on twitter @marykillman you can keep up with me between practices tomorrow! I'll be at the pool bright and early, as my alarm is going off at 5:45. What is it with water athletics and early mornings hmm? Anyone have an answer?


Speaking of questions, I do have to answer a few:

To Krista, no I don't compete with a nose clip! Weird I know, maybe I'll post a picture of how I plug my nose, but you'll have to promise no laughing...actually don't promise that. It's impossible not to laugh at the funny face I make underwater haha! It's glorious above water though, you can breathe better AND you look better in action shots lol

My dear old teammate, Kelly, yes Ryan Lochte is as attractive in person as he is in pictures, and yes I have met Micheal Phelps. 22 Olympic Medals! Way to go Micheal!

As much as I would love to say I know all of the Olympic Athletes Jenni, I don't even know all of the USA delegation athletes. There's over 500 of us! I can't even imagine how many athletes from other countries there are walking around the Olympic Village every day!

Mary, we share a name, this is awesome. Haha, but to answer your question, no props are allowed in Synchro. There is one competition that the Sport holds once a year that allows props and all artistic talent to be set loose, we do try to keep Synchronized Swimming as athletic as it can be. Yes, we wear a lot of glitter, and crazy make-up, but it's hard what we do! And we wouldn't want to give too much of a cirque impression unless we are actually working for Cirque Du Solei. :)


That's all for today, sorry for no pictures, but you'll get plenty tomorrow. :) Wish Mariya and I luck and make sure to tune into  NBC Olympic Live Online Coverage! We swim at 3pm London time, so 10am Eastern, 7am West Coast! We're first draw so don't miss the beginning!!

--Mary

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Day 9/10

These posts are starting to come in pairs! Haha I'll be better. Promise! Although, be prepared for this one. It's gonna be long!

First off yesterday when we got back to village, I felt at home. It felt like where I was supposed to be. The village has such an energy that I can't even explain it. And I think I may have gotten the best view in the village. Of course I could just be biased. It is my room in the Olympic Village after all!


I love this view!!!


We got off the plane, and once again went straight to the pool. One day I'd like to know what it's like to get somewhere, and have time to unpack before I do anything else, but at the same time I'd probably get antsy wanting to get things started! I guess that day will come a long time from now. A day far in the future where I don't do Synchronized Swimming.

After we got to the pool, we had a total of 5 minutes of music time. Talk about stressful! We don't get much time in the competition pool before we actually compete because the swimmers have priority at the moment. They wrap up on the 4th, so us starting on the 5th won't be a problem. (I know you were all SO worried! :P) We practiced in that pool for a couple of hours then came back to the village to eat some lunch. Then it was to the practice pool! A synchronized swimmers work is never done! We had more music time there. The practice facility is awesome. It has a water polo pool, 3 50meter pools for swimming, and another pool strictly for synchro. I took pictures on my camera instead of my phone so y'all will have to just wait till after the games to see what it all looks like! I can show you the bus route we take everyday however:

Our bus line

Aaaaaaall the way at the end there, is where we meet our bus. Okay, so the picture makes it look much further away than it actually is. But look at all that PINK! Haha I'll never get over it.

Anyways, at the practice pool we share music time with Canada and France. It's kinda nice being back in a group where it's more than just Mariya and I in the water at one time. The Canadian girls even cheered for us during one of our swims! It was nice not to swim in silence. (well, if you can consider our blasting music silence) Athletes have to stick together after all.

Afterwards we had some treatment with Holly, making sure sore muscles are taken care of. And then I was so tired from our 4:30am wake up call that morning that I called some people and made really good friends with my stuffed Tiger (kudos to anyone who thinks up a good name for it!) and my pillow that I brought from home. Ergo why there was no blog post yesterday. I admit it! I fell asleep! :D

That tiger travels with me to EVERY competition
Then onto Today. We didn't have much time at all in the pool this morning. Only a few hours in the water and still sharing music with Canada and France. Afterwards we stayed in the pool a bit longer and worked on how we want to perform. We want to swim like we're tied for 2nd, and the next 3&1/2 minutes determine if we get a Gold medal or not. We always say we want to swim the best that we possibly can, and in order to do that, we have to prove to the judges we want it. That we want it more than anyone else does!

After we got out, we had an hour to shower, get back to the village, change, get presentable, and be back downstairs ready to go to a press conference. Somehow we managed to do it, but I'll tell you it wasn't easy haha! There's a lot of pool face that we have to cover up with makeup after being in the pool that long. Let's face it, no one is all that attractive after being chlorine, working out for the last 3 hours.

We had this press conference and as much as everyone likes to think everyone knows who we are, it was kinda empty. But thats okay, we got asked some good questions!

Speaking of questions, I've been asked multiple times on how to watch our swims when we compete! To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure when it is airing on Television, but here is the online schedule for those of you who are able to watch it live!

NBC Synchronized Swimming Schedule Online

Now I'm writing from the dining hall at the University of East London, where we're to meet up with Holly and Cate to get treatment and visit for a little bit. This is where a lot of the staff, judges, and alternate athletes, as well as a few competing athletes are staying. It's not in Olympic Park, but its still quite nice. It seems to be set up a lot like the village, but it's at a college. Haven't really seen anything much, but some of the pictures in the dining hall are of old Olympic Games moments. I probably couldn't tell you who they are of, or what year they were, but it's cool to see. I think each country has its own dining hall here, instead of a common one like we do in the village, so we're in the USA one obviously!

USA Pride on the table there!

Also on a slightly off topic, I wanna extend a SUPER HUGE good luck to Coach Robert's (who will forever be my favorite Swim coach) current Swim Belton swimming athletes Austin Couillard, who will be competing at Sectionals!!! I know how hard it is to pull off a sectionals cut. Congrats Austin! 


Until next time!

--Mary

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Day 8

I'd just like to start by saying that the Olympic Games haven't left my TV screen since we've been in Dublin. I've enjoyed watching Swimming the most I think, not only is it my old sport, but it's also the pool that Mariya and I are going to be competing in soon!!! How exciting!

It's the first day of August. We compete the 5th. I can wait until we get to the village, though I do have to say I could've waited until after 4:30 to wake up tomorrow morning...We have a REALLY early flight, then two practices once we get to London! Gonna be a full day, and I'm planning on going to sleep immediately after I finish this post. (Well, I do need to call my parents first...I'm glad they're coming to watch the Games!)
Our last day in Ireland really wasn't all that special, though we did get to sleep in this morning. That is if you can call 8am sleeping in. If you're an athlete, it TOTALLY IS!!! :D

When we get back to London, it's game on. We're going to have to give it our all for the next few days. The competition is going to come on us quickly, and I can't wait to be back in the competitive atmosphere! I feed off of the energy and it's actually where I feel the most comfortable. It can't get here fast enough!

Today, and a few days early, we celebrated Holly's birthday! She's our trainer, who has kept us together and in one piece every day. Seriously, I think I my hands would have been killing me after all the muscles she's had to massage out. 

   


She may shoot me (not really of course haha) for posting this photo, but I think it's needed. :)


Also, I know there haven't been many pictures this post, but I do have some questions to answer!!! Here goes nothing:
Do you and Mariya do exactly the same thing 100% of the time in your routines, or does Cate have to learn separate parts? And when there are alternates for a team competition, do those alternates have to learn every single person's part of the routine in case any single one of them are unable to compete? 
Short answer, alternates have to learn everyone's position! In our tech routine, Mariya and i do the same thing the entire time, as required in the ruling. In our free routine however, we have lifts, and partner sections, and things where we're doing COMPLETELY different things! Cate has to be prepared in case (God forbid) something happens to either one of us. Alternates in a team work the same way, normally a team of 8 has 2 alternates. Both of these girls MUST know everyone's position. In free routines this gets a little insane with people flying off lifts and certain people having certain things they HAVE to do. I would honestly say being an alternate is the hardest position in Synchronized Swimming.

What's the hardest thing you have to do in Synchro?Honestly, everything is hard! haha There are moves like a spin, where both feet are in the air and we're spinning rapidly, that are difficult. Doing things like that at the end of the routine, is difficult. Then doing it when you're muscles are aching, your lungs are screaming, all with a smile on your face...there's hard for ya.


Alright, one last thing before I sign off for the night.
I would like to give a shout out to Denise Shively (our AWESOME manager) who tirelessly hangs around at the pool all day, goes and makes sure we have water and food almost at all times, and is an amazing mom-like figure for us to have around. Unfortunately she isn't going to be able to be with us in London, so after we are all sent off to London, she will be making her way back to the states to watch us compete from a TV screen. Wish she could be there! I can't imagine how I would've gotten this far without her at some of our competitions. She's a great manager, and an even better stand in Mom for us. I definitely need my share of Momma Shively hugs. Her children are so lucky!
Speaking of moms, can't wait to see mine. :)

--Mary

P.s. Keep the questions coming! I'm happy to answer any questions you may have! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Day 6/7

Alright, I missed a day. But honestly, really there just wasn't anything that happened yesterday! We went to practice, we swam through our routines a few times (more than we had originally thought...) and we went back to the hotel! Part way through, I did take a nap on the pool deck. You'd be surprised where you can sleep when you're tired! Lucky me, I have the gift of being able to sleep anywhere. It's amazing on long flights haha I've also been told that not only do I snore (which I already knew lol EMBRACE IT!) apparently I talk in my sleep as well. As if I'm answering questions...it's amazing the things you learn when you room with your teammates!

A quote on the wall at the Irish National Aquatic Center

 
I just want to mention how awesome the Irish people have been here. We've been called "their team" and it's truly an honor to be considered as such! Ireland doesn't have a Synchronized Swimming team that has reached international levels just yet, so since we trained here before the Olympic Qualifiers back in April, we became the next best thing!

Mariya and Cate before practice in Ireland!

We had practice again this morning, but it was slightly shorter as we had an exhibition at 3pm! We headed back to the Crowne Plaza hotel where we're staying while in Dublin and got to work getting ready. That's where all that lovely knox comes in. Look for future posts when we get back to the games, I'll let everyone know what REALLY goes into a morning of getting ready for competition haha! 

The stand were packed, and they were even apologizing for the crowd not being as big as it was last time! I was still amazed at the amount of people that were there cheering for us! We performed our Free routine; some of the younger Irish synchro girls performed a team routine, as well as a team routine; and before we swam our Tech routine as the finale, Cate was kind enough to perform some of our elements and the progression of how athletes start at a lower difficulty and slowly work their way up to what Mariya and I are going to be competing in the Olympic Games with! It was really informative, and it's funny to me how the simplest of things can be SO cool to people who don't know synchro! I guess I'd be surprised too if I saw someone come shooting up out of the water, foot first out to their ribs and spun down without a problem, and reminded myself that they didn't use the bottom! It's crazy. We had two really good swims, but definitely not hitting our peak yet. That's reserved for the Games themselves, so that we can perform AMAZINGLY!!!

Our locker room - a true inside look into Ireland

I feel like our stuff is everywhere. You definitely can't say I'm the most organized person in the world! People wanted inside looks, here ya go. :P I can't wait until I'm back in London, but I have to say that I'm representing the USA, and even a little bit of Ireland when we compete. We even have shirts to prove it!

Mariya and I modeling our Irish gear!
 
They were sweet enough to give all of us (including our coach, manager and trainer) these awesome t-shirts. Dublin, Ireland 2012! Gotta love it.

Alright everyone, well I'm off! I've been getting a lot of comments on how people really enjoy my blog and I'm glad it's getting out to so many people! I'm keeping everyone updated, but I'm also creating a keepsake for myself. These games have been amazing so far and I haven't even competed yet! Can't wait to make it back to the Village, but I wish I could bring some Luck of the Irish with me!

--Mary





Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Day 5 - Ireland

Welcome to Ireland!!! This place is amazing. I think when they speak of the luck of the Irish, they are definitely talking about Dublin. The people here are amazing, and what could be more lucky than being in the same pool and hotel that we trained at before Olympic Qualifiers back in April? The staff here at the hotel is great, they gave us a fruit basket and a really nice good luck card.

Somewhere in Ireland from the plane!
 
Here in Dublin, we met up with our alternate Cate Stewart! unfortunately she isn't allowed to stay with us in the village, but she's here training with us, and is going to be able to come watch as an observer at the games. She's been great. Seriously always has a smile on her face and can look at anything in a positive way. Its definitely going to come in handy during this last stretch of training. I definitely know I get grumpy when I'm tired (but really, who doesnt? Point out a sweet, exhausted person to me and then maybe I'll change my opinion! :P) so Cate's personality is like a ray of sunshine when I can't see anything but the water haha! Our practices here are much longer than they were when we were staying in the Olympic Village in London. It's almost like we're back in Indy, training twice a day for at least 3 hours each. We have the entire diving well to ourselves, and Cate was amazing enough to bring our sound system from home. I can't imagine the extra weight in her suitcase!

On another topic, one which could be an athletes favorite topic, food! The hotel restaurant here is the Forchetta. It's an Italian restaurant, with forks EVERYWHERE!

Yes, that is a giant fork, made out of forks
 
It's great, again I can't believe how nice the people are. So artistic too! Even food has become an art form.

Chicken with basil risotto
 
Alright, idk how good this looks to anyone else, but it TASTED amazing. They also have a minestrone soup to die for. Well, maybe not literally. I still have an Olympics to compete in! :)

With all of the social media, My facebook, twitter, and e-mail has been blowing up with good luck wishes. I can't believe how much support is out there, even from people I don't know! I sat next to a man on the way home from US Opens a few weeks ago, and his kids made me good luck cards!

Thanks so much Kamren, Karter, and Krisee!
 
How adorable is that?! I got a picture of this and it seriously made my day.

Well everyone, this one is a little shorter than the last few, but I'm exhausted! I still haven't caught up on my sleep from the Opening Ceremonies. So worth it though! More tomorrow! If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask! I'll answer them tomorrow. :)
Also, if you want to follow me a bit more with pictures, check out my twitter page (twitter.com/marykillman) I update that throughout the day so you can really keep up with what I'm up to! :)

--Mary
P.s. I think I should pick up on some of the british/Irish jargon. Cheers!





Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympic Day 3/4 - Opening Ceremonies



Alright, Days 3 and 4 are being written about in the same post, because I didn't get back to my room until nearly 2am! Opening Ceremonies was a blast, but we didn't even walk into the stadium until nearly 11:45!

But before we get to the Opening, I had practice! We had a small mishap with which bus to get on, competition pool or practice pool, so the morning started off a bit rough. We almost missed our bus to practice! That would've been bad. But luckily we made it, and didn't lose any practice time. A few hours later we were back at the village, and we finally get our outfitting! We went through processing already as I said in my last post, but we didn't actually get our things until two days later! Nerve wracking? A little bit. After lunch we got back to our rooms and I organized the outfitting that Mariya and I decided to keep with us.

Not shown: Another duffle bag and backpack FULL of outfitting

 
This is what I've been told is "Christmas in July". I believe it! It doesn't look like much, but so much has already been sent home to my parents that I'm going to have to go through it all again when it finally arrives! We had a little bit of down time before we had to line up for the ceremonies, so I took a trip up to the Athlete Services rooms in another USA building. Check out some of what's up there:

They have pictures of all the USA olympians COVERING all the walls!
Children wrote good luck notes on paper hand prints and made a Flag out of them!
 
It's all so cool. I have an Olympic Flag that I took up there, and it's going to be left in one of the rooms for all the USA athletes to come and sign! It'll truly be a keepsake later with all the Olympic athletes signatures on it from London 2012. I can't wait to come back from Ireland and see if people have started signing it!

Now, onto what most of you are wondering about. What is Opening Ceremonies like for the athletes? Let me tell you, people ask what all we saw, but honestly...not much! We began lining up at 9:15pm outside our building. Not all of the USA athletes marched in the Opening, but considering there are over 500 athletes representing the American delegation we are a sight to be seen. Our outfitting was designed specifically for the Opening Ceremonies, and just imagine a mass of people in this!

Mariya, Sanya Richards-Ross and I
 
It's dark outside! Thank goodness it was cool. I heard from a lot of the athletes that were in Beijing in '08 that it was brutal at those Openings. It was almost 90, humid, and wearing relatively the same design. Thank goodness we had better luck. We were told it was supposed to rain, so they were handing out plastic ponchos if we needed them, though luckily for us we didn't need them. We walked as a mass from the village to the stadium. It was like a race to the finish! I don't think I've been stepped on that many times, or stepped on that many other people while trying to walk forwards! I managed to be on the right side towards the front of the crowd, meaning I made it into a few different tv cameras. I was also the closest to the crowd being on the right side. Walking into the stadium was amazing! I can't even explain the energy that came from the audience. The USA also seemed to take up the entire stadium by ourselves. I think that's because we spread out a lot as we walked in, everyone taking in the sights and wanting their share of camera time. After our trek around the stadium, all the countries intermingled in the middle on a large circle. Pretty much it became a mosh pit of athletes taking pictures and talking to each other, and taking in the last bit of the Opening Ceremonies that we actually get to see. If anyone saw Opening Ceremonies, where the people riding bikes, with the blue wings, and where one flies up into the sky...that's where we came in. So anything before that? I know I got to know a bunch of different athletes, took some pictures, and survived a kilometer sprint to the Stadium in a mass of people while signing autographs and giving lots of high fives. But the actual ceremony? I honestly don't even know what happened!  haha I've been told Mr. Bean was in the orchestra, there was a giant Shadow Ghost thing that wound around the stadium, and that the Queen jumped out of a Helicopter to get to her seat. I feel like the last one is a little far-fetched, but I bet the skit was good. :)


The Olympic torch, and Finale of fireworks

 
The lighting of the Olympic Torch was exciting. Second only to seeing them raise the Olympic Flag. It's finally hit me everyone...I'm competing in the OLYMPIC GAMES!!! Who would've thought I could've gotten this far? I wanna thank everyone who's been so supportive of me. :)

I'm in Ireland now, and since we didn't get back to our rooms until around 1:30am because of the Opening Ceremonies, I didn't actually sleep before our 3:30 wake-up call to make it to the bus to the airport. We've already had one short practice in the pool here, and I'm excited that we're in the same hotel we were when we trained here before Olympic Qualifiers. Everyone is so nice, and is so happy to support us. Tomorrow it's training, and it's gonna be long ones. 8:30-11:30, and 1:30-?? We weren't actually told an ending time...that's slightly frightening. But well worth it when we compete on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of August!

Hope everyone is enjoying these posts. I'm going to be glad I did them every night once this dream become reality comes to a close. :)

--Mary




Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympic Day 2

Alright, if I ever start slacking on this blogging every day thing, someone needs to kick me in gear haha It's gonna be a struggle. I'll do my best!

Today we had 3 practices. Crazy right? But first I want to introduce all of you to where athletes spend the 2nd most time of their lives, second only to their sport.. We Practice, we Eat, we Sleep. This is where the Eating portion of our lives happens while in the Olympic Village!

My view of the Dining Hall from my seat at breakfast

So this is only like a 4th of the Dining Hall itself. What you can see in the picture, on the left side you can KINDA see one of the sections. That's the American, European, and Mediterranean food. On the right there, you see where we get our trays, and silverware. Plates and bowls are provided at each station. One of these days I'll count and let y'all know JUST how many different kinds of food we have to choose from. In the middle, that blue sign hanging, that's the Great Britain section. All British food, all the time. I have yet to venture over into that area...time will tell.
What you DON'T see in this picture, is ALL the other sections! There's a Caribbean food section, an Indian&Asian section, and there's even a section of strictly Halal Cuisine! For those of you out there, who don't know what Halal is, it's basically kosher food. Everything is cooked a certain way, all animal's were slaughtered a certain way, and there's A LOT of different kinds of veggies to choose from. There's also a McDonald's actually in the Dining Hall, but who would want to eat there with ALL the other amazing choices to be had!? As for liquids, there are GIGANTIC glass door fridges that hold Powerade, water, and Coke products. There's actually vending machines scattered in the village stocked with Coke Zero.
Then there's ALL of the other seating that you don't see. There's supposed to be over 1,000 athletes here at the Games, and that's not including Coaches, trainers, staff, not to mention training partners for the athletes themselves!

Anyways, our practices are tough. As expected they should be with Opening Ceremonies going on TOMORROW NIGHT!!! So exciting! One this morning, then back to the village for an early lunch. Afterwards we had a few minutes, so Mariya and I sat outside. I'm not sure what I should call the area, but it's pretty. It's right where everyone has to walk through it to get to their buildings, so you always see people from all sorts of sports walking around.

Middle Earth? haha Props to those who can name this space.
But the relaxation was short lived and it was back to the pool for our second training session. When that one was finished, we actually came back to the village, but only to change buses and go to another pool! We originally thought this was going to be a bad thing, but it actually gave Mariya and I some time to work on the walk out portion of our routine. (We have to get out on deck some how don't we?) First impressions mean a lot in Synchronized Swimming!

Then it was back to the village for Dinner. We had a nutritionist walk us around the gigantic dining hall and pointed out facts. Each food has nutrition facts above it, sodium, calories, etc. All things we need to know in order to keep our bodies in tip top condition! We were told that it's like the Last Temptation. The Dining hall has AMAZING food (and apparently even richer desserts...though that experimentation will have to wait till AFTER the Competition!) and if we're not careful, our diets will be ruined. Also there's a lot of people. This causes some to lose focus on what they're really here to do. Compete.

Having a good time is what it's all about though. Enjoy what you're doing, or it isn't worth it all! Olympic Spirit! You can be focused and still enjoy yourself. Just don't go crazy. That's the key!

One more thing I have to have a momentary rant about. The color Pink. It's EVERYWHERE! The signs are pink, the volunteer's shirts are pink and purple, the Umbrella's are pink and Purple, the Buses are even pink!

My nightmare
For those of you that know me, and those of you that don't, I hate the color pink. It's kinda funny that I used to be OBSESSED with it! I had everything pink. Clothes, a kick board, pens, anything you could possibly make in pink, I owned it. Now? Not so much. Not gonna lie, it's a little bit like a nightmare to me now with all the pink haha but luckily there are enough countries flags flying and different country outfitting to off set it enough that it's alright. Haha I can't complain too much though right? This is the OLYMPIC GAMES!!!

Super excited for Opening Ceremonies tomorrow. Look for me in the mass of awesome Ralph Lauren Outfitting as all 530 American athletes storm the stadium!

--Mary

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Olympic Day 1


Okay. I've told myself I am going to write every night while I'm here at the Games. Day one, let's see how long I can keep this resolution going! haha

First off, Day one feels like it's been FOREVER! Considering it's been like...2 days haha
London is 6 hours ahead of Indy, and it's insane how much jetlag you can get from an 8 hour flight! The day started off with practice on the 24th, said some good byes to the divers we share the IUPUI natatorium with (I'm sure they won't miss the music! haha) and then headed to the airport. At first we actually thought our flight was going to be delayed, by 2 hours. Thank goodness that didn't actually happen! One short flight to Chicago, and we were on our way to London!

Mariya was upgraded to business class (lucky...) but I managed to get a row to myself. So I slept the entire way with my feet up on the wall and curled onto two Economy Plus seats. Not an easy feat I tell you, but well worth it to try and get some shut eye for the way here.

The view of London before we landed!

Doesn't look much different does it? We were on the same flight as woman's wrestling and Holley Mangold, a good friend of mine who is an AMAZING weight lifter with an AMAZING sense of humor. After being greeted by some people who were there to help us get to the village, we picked up our bags and headed to Olympic Park! We were warned it could take up to 4 hours, but luckily for us that didn't happen. Once we got there, we actually had to retake our photos, because we were smiling in the picture that was provided. We weren't the only ones either, so now there's a lot of athletes walking around the olympic village with somber pictures on their Olympic Credentials...I think I have an eyebrow raised in mine. And my head is too high...but who knows. Makes for a good memory right?
My credential, don't lose this!

Our adventure didn't end there, Mariya and I went straight to the pool from there in order to get some music time practice in the competition pool. It's always something you want to do as soon as possible before you compete, so that you get a feel for the pool. Luckily for us we qualified at this pool, so it feels familiar. Egypt didn't show up for their music time, so we were lucky enough to get an extra few minutes. Every minute counts this close to our goal!

After that, processing! This is what US Olympic Athletes like to call "Christmas in July" Literally, it took me 2 and a half hours to get through every thing. There's podium attire to try on, Opening and Closing ceremonies outfitting to be custom fitted, not to mention the two gigantic duffle bags full to the brim with Ralph Lauren and Nike shirts, shorts, pants, jackets, sports bras, sweatshirts, dresses, shoes, and hats that you need to sort through to make sure everything fits! There was also a scarf and a towel included! After all the outfitting, you get to go get your Olympic ring fitted. They're made every olympics, and for London it's made off of the design of their coins. Really pretty, and possibly the only piece of jewelry I'll wear ALL THE TIME!

After all that, lucky for us we finished in time, but the fire alarm went off! No one really knows why, I guess we'll find out tomorrow to see if we get our outfitting. I feel like there would be a lot of very unhappy people if our things were burned up in flames.

Please be a false alarm...

We're finally back at the village now, and it's 11pm. It's only 6 at home, but the jet lag is gonna hit something fierce tomorrow. Wish me luck at the 3 practices that I have! But in the mean time, check out our awesome rooms!

I have the small room haha

We're in a apartment style 3 bedroom, one bath suite with a common living area on the 6th floor of the USA building. The view is amazing, and the beds are comfy. Gotta love it. Until tomorrow!!!

--Mary

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Day in the Life

Getting ready for the Olympic Games is an experience to say the least. It's what I've worked towards for the past 10 years of my Synchro career, and another 6 years before that when I was only swimming competitively. The Olympics were always a goal. So after being asked by a few of you what my actual "work days" are like, and what a normal endurance set for us would be like for training our routines!
I felt like today was a good example, and I decided to use it to write about what actually goes into a day of practice for me while getting ready for the Games! For those of you who know or do Synchronized Swimming, you're gonna cringe at some of the workouts, for those of you who don't...I'll be willing to bet you'll cringe at the hours.

Our day starts off at a normal hour, nothing crazy early. We normally arrive at the pool at 8:15am in order to set the music system up before our practice starts at 8:30am. From 8:30am-11:30am, we do a swim warm-up consisting of a 200-400 freestyle, 200 IM (Individual Medley - Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle) kick, 200 IM pull. Then depending on the day, we can do a long hypoxic set, and/or go straight to sprints that can range in sets of 25s - 100s. The workout itself only takes around 30-45 minutes, as to not get into too much Synchro time. After that's done, we spend a bit of time doing basic skills, stretching out, and just making sure we remember corrections from the day before. Then the real work begins. Lately, we have a set that we do with weights! These weights normally are a 2Kilo weight belt, and is occasionally paired with ankle weights weighing about a pound each. Coach picks 6 sections, in both routines, that we do 6 times each with about 20 seconds rest in between each repetition. (Unless we need to do something better, in which case we continue to repeat that section until it's where it needs to be!) Now just a reminder, we practice in the diving well. That's 17ft of water! There is no touching the bottom OR the wall during these sets! How many of you have tried Synchro? How many of you have tried it without touching the bottom? How many of you have tried it with an extra 5 pounds strapped to your body?

Alright! Practice one for the day finished! Now it's time to drive to St. Vincent's Sport Performance! Eat lunch in the car and spend time with the AMAZING trainers there to take care of sore muscles and potential injuries. Then it's time for weights. We work with a trainer for an hour in order to get stronger on land and transfer that stability into the water. (everyone knows synchronized swimmers don't do well with gravity without a little help...lol!) It's now about 2pm and it's time to head back to the pool for practice number two!

2:30 rolls around and we're diving back in at the good ol' IUPUI Natatorium. Afternoon practice consists of a warm up to loosen up tight muscles and more stretching so that we don't pull anything. More repetition of a few different pieces of our routines to make sure we're synchronized, doing the same thing, and a little bit more matching happens. The synchronization and matching of a Synchro routine is never finished. We're always working towards that perfect swim, that perfect score.
Then the "set" comes. The extra weight is done for the day, so it's just ourselves that we have to hold up out of the water. It goes a little something like this:
Last Lap**
10 seconds
Swim Through**
10 seconds
Last Lap
2 Minutes Rest
Swim Through
10 Seconds
Last Lap
10 Seconds
Last Lap
5 Minutes Rest
Swim Through
5 Minutes Rest, Repeat with Other routine

**For you Synchro Newbies out there that read my blog, a Swim Through is when we do the entire routine. This is what we compete with, and is our entire performance in one swift go. Depending on which routine, it's either 2 and a half minutes, or 3 and a half minutes of pushing your body to it's max. The "Last Lap" is the very last section of our routine. It's normally the hardest part as it's written to showcase your very best talents even after your muscles are aching from lactic acid, and your lungs are burning from holding your breath. It's the last hurrah as a grand finale to pull out all the stops and push the limit's of athleticism.

Needless to say, I'm exhausted. But the day's not over yet! After practice ends around 5pm, I head home for Dinner. After Dinner I watch the video from Today's practice, write down my corrections, and go over the routine in my head. Maybe listen to the music a time or two so that the rhythm is ingrained.

Whoo! I'm tired! It's around 8:30pm now, and I'm writing this blog post. Talk about a full time job in order to do the sport you love! It's all worth it when I realize I'm leaving for the Olympic Games in less that a week! I'm super excited and I'll be keeping everyone posted on training and the village once I'm over seas!!! Can't wait!

--Mary

P.s.
What else should I talk about? Don't be afraid to ask questions!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Feeling the excitement!

I feel like there's so much to catch up on! I'm awful with these things, I really do need more practice. Don't worry, I'll update more when I'm actually in London!!!

First off, I wanna thank everyone SO much for all the support I've been receiving, even from people I've never met before! I just got back from Vegas for the US Opens, and I can't tell you how great it was to be in our home country for such a send off. It was our last showing in America before we leave for London, and we got some great feedback!

Mariya and I with some AWESOME girls at US Opens!

It's literally a dream come true. I feel like it wasn't that long ago when I was looking up to the 2004 Olympic team, watching in awe as they performed before leaving for Athens. I wanted to be just like them! How they moved, how they looked...it was all so amazing to me. I remembering waiting in line to get a picture with them, or to get something signed, and being so excited to meet them! What's so surreal to me, is that's what I am to these girls now. Mariya and I have worked so hard in order to get to where we are, and it's finally hitting me what kind of an inspiration I actually am to some of these girls! I received an amazing e-mail from a girl who swims for Cincinatti, and I've been able to give her some advice on synchro. She's one of so many out there who have such a passion for the sport at a young age. I hope it keeps going! Mariya and I handed out awards at the end of the competition, and it was nice to see everyone. A few of the girls I know personally, which is even better! I love talking to all the girls and watching them swim and grow. It makes all the hard work we do everyday worth it just that much more!

I also got the chance to meet one of my brother's wife's family. It was so nice to see some family (even through marriage!) in the crowd supporting me.

So cool! Sorry for the picture quality...

My parents couldn't be in Vegas, but that's okay. They'll be cheering me on in person at the Games in London where I need them the most!!! It's finally sinking in that I'm going to the Olympics, but I don't think it'll fully hit me till I'm at Opening Ceremonies. I plan on making the best out of this experience and I just can't wait!

On another note, while we were in Vegas, Mariya and I got the opportunity to go see both "O" at the Belaggio, and "Le Reve" at Wynn! (We were even upgraded to the VIP seats, and given a backstage tour at one to meet the performers!) Both Cirque shows are absolutely amazing and I happen to know people who perform in both which makes it even more cool! Some of the things these performers do is crazy, surreal, awesome, dangerous, freaky and even kinda funny at times and it keeps you engaged the entire time. My eyes didn't stop moving the entire show, not only did the characters being showcased have their moment, but the surrounding performers did as well. Each one had a story that they held and a character that they became. It's a whole new level of artistry that absolutely is astounding. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone who is able, to go see these shows. For those of you Synchro fans out there, watch out for some of the performers, even in crazy make-up you may recognize a few! For those of you synchro-newbies, go see them anyways. There are acrobats, and contortionists, amazing dancers, and it's plain entertaining!

Well that's all for now, but stick around! I'll be updating more often now that's it closer to the Games! We leave in 9 days for London, and Opening Ceremonies are in 12 days, our first competition is just 21 days away! The excitement is building every day, and so is my determination to do everything I can in order to be the best representative of my Sport, and my Country at the 2012 Olympic Games! Wish me luck!

--Mary

Random Fact:
Mariya and I placed #16 on the 50 Hottest American Olympians List, check it out!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Homeward bound



Mariya and I at the Spanish Open; Tech Duet

Well all, Swiss Open is Officially done. It's been a long two weeks, but we survived! Our performances were much better at this competition. There are still some kinks to work out, but there always will be! Aiming for a perfect 10 isn't easy!

My last post was right before we competed in Tech Duet, and I think we did well! With a few changes here and there, our routine is coming together quite nicely. Aretha Franklin would be proud! We managed to position ourselves in first right from the start, so we were happy with how it turned out.

The two days following Tech Duet were practice days. I think it finally hit me how much I need to learn a foreign language during this time. I always feel so bad that I only speak English, and all these other countries have to speak English as a SECOND language! In Geneva, everyone speaks French. Mariya gets to practice the French she studies at school, while I stand and smile wondering what is actually being said. The people have been truly amazing and I can't believe how much support they give to all the athletes from ALL the countries! Mariya being Russian helps too, she was always speaking to coaches who were originally from Russia, even other athletes like those from Kazakhstan!  It all sounds like gibberish to me, but it's still cool. I think I need to take Spanish again...or Italian! I've always loved how that language sounded...
Anyways! Back on subject, the competition! We had music time during these two days, to be able to try and perfect our free routine even more. The days started out stretching outside the hotel (we got some interesting looks from the locals, let me tell ya) and then walking to the Tram, to get our scenic river walk.

We walked on the right side, into those trees

Past this creepy looking dude, reppin 2012!

Not your best look man...haha That's just a bit of what we saw on our walk to the pool! There was more a bit further along of the Joker, a masked person with piercing brown eyes, even a polar bear and some penguins! I think they were drawn better with spray paint and a wall than I could do with a pencil and paper...and hours of practice! 

After two days of practice and small amounts of relaxation, it was time Free Duet. This morning we woke up at a bright and early 6:30. After a few alarms went off, we finally began the knoxing, headpieces and make-up process. Then headed to the pool. We had a good swim in Free with our new routine. I love how much feedback we get about our music. It's specially made for us and no one else could possibly have it! (unless you count ode to joy...I guess someone else COULD have that piece since it's well known) Anyways, after our swim we found out we ended in first!

Gold!

Gold medals! Exciting! After awards, the Swiss Open held a "Show of Winners" where the top countries in each event basically swam their routines again. We re-swam our Tech Duet, tag team style. Both together for the first lap, I swam a solo version for the second lap, Mariya swam a solo version for the last lap, and I rejoined her for the last strokes and last hybrid of our routine. The crowd even started clapping with our upbeat music! Thanks again to Aretha's "Think" for getting the audience involved. That was the idea! 


Over all it's been a great learning experience. I love Europe, I love Spain, I love Switzerland, but I miss the good ol' US of A and as much as I've enjoyed the last two weeks, I can't wait to be home!
Unfortunately that means a 5:30 bus to the airport...ah well. The life of an Elite Jet-setting Athlete. It's a hard knock life huh? haha! Until next time!

--Mary
P.s. Who knew you could eat awesome Sushi in Switzerland? Go figure.


Minus the Shrimp already removed before this picture of course...dang allergies!