Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lasting Images from Beijing - Part 6

While the U.S. national anthem was being played during the awards ceremony at the Beijing Olympic 10K venue, Chloe Sutton proudly stood at attention as the gold medalist. Chloe, a 16-year-old from Mission Viejo, California, will represent the U.S. at the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim on August 20, 2008.

I first met Chloe at the 2006 USA Swimming National Open Water Select Camp. As one of the coaches, I took a group of young, up-and-coming pool swimmers to the beach in Ft. Myers on a beautiful sunny day. I gathered the impressionable and incredible fit group near the shoreline and explained the workout for the day. Many stood in ankle-deep water looking tentative; others were fidgeting with their goggles, hesitant to proceed further.

Suddenly, I heard some splashing, turned around and saw two feet sticking out from the water. "A starfish! I found a starfish!" yelled Chloe in delight as she came up to breathe. "I've never seen a starfish before. Look at this!"

Right then and there, the coaches knew Chloe had the potential for being a great open water swimmer. She did not fear the ocean. Rather, she looked at the ocean as a venue to enjoy, embrace and demonstrate her great physical capabilities and mental strengths.

Photo by Pei Qingsheng.

Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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