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!


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! :)

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. :)


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!


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!!!


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!


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!


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 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!

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!