Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I swim because I can.

Last Saturday was our swim in the Bay! This illustration was hanging in the window of the ferry on the way over to the Golden Gate, to give us an idea of what we were about to get ourselves into.
My first thoughts were, "This drawing is really done well. The colors, shading....and I sure hope it is drawn to scale. Jump in here- swim to here. Not too bad. Lets do it!" Then the fine print on the right caught my eye. OH....58 degrees, huh? That is kinda cold. I was quickly reminded by my good friend Mel, fellow water polo player and a teammate of mine from Cal, that we are tough. We play polo. Good on ya Mel. You are right. :) Thanks for setting me straight. We don't need wetsuits. We can handle it. Over that hurdle, now I needed to know what slack water was. Apparently it was going to happen at 10:20 and if it was written down I was thinking it was probably important. Luckily we had a resident SF Bay expert on the boat with us. He knew everything about the Bay and explained to us that "slack water" was the precise moment that the direction of the current switched from heading OUT of the Bay to going IN the Bay. Which would be a huge advantage to all of us swimmers when we jumped off the boat. We would wait about 10-15 minutes after the switch, then off we would go. He said it would be like surfing on into the beach. (We definitely got a little nudge, but I wouldn't say surfing per say!)

Before we even got to the swim, we started the day off by dropping our cars off at Chrissy Field, where we were going to finish. A shuttle then took us to Pier 9, for the pre-swim logistical stuff. (sign in, get your cap, write your number on your hand in black ink, and mingle with all the other participants) On the ride, we got out a sharpie and began to write the names of people we wanted to honor during our swim on our water polo ball.
Later we announced to all the swimmers that if they wanted to add a name, they were welcome to do so. 
Here is a close up of one of the panels. 

The ferry ride over to the Golden Gate lasted about an hour. One of the organizers of the swim, Janel Jorgensen (an Olympic Swimmer) gathered us together to talk about why she started this charity swim here in the Bay Area and how cancer had affected her life. Following Janel's lead, many people got up and told stories of loved ones, some defying huge odds, others who had lost their battles.  Some of the stories were about names that had been written on our ball earlier. There were tears. And the stories infused us all with a fire to get on to the swim. To do something for the people we were learning about. 

My friend Mel, got up and spoke on behalf of our team of water polo players. At the end of what she was saying she told us to remember...."We swim because we can." We are healthy. We have the ability to get out there and do something, like swim in a blastedly cold body of water. So why not? Everyone should have that right. To be healthy. To physically do as they wish.
Jump. Dive. Hop. Slide. Skip. Anything! We were swimming for the people that could not join us due to a nasty disease. We also were swimming WITH people who beat it and were able to keep swimming! 
I was very proud that our little team of water polo players raised almost $10,000!!!! 
(So many THANK YOU'S to the people who donated!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Swimming in San Francisco Bay!

In two weeks, I will jump into the San Francisco Bay and swim 1.5 miles, under the Golden Gate Bridge, around one of the pylons and then back to Chrissy Field Beach! I am really excited!!!

I figure since I am in great physical shape coming home from Beijing, there is no better way to put my skills to use than for a cause in which I am very passionate! I will be swimming with a team of water polo enthusiasts the whole way....we are even going to bring a water polo ball along for our little swim! :)

There are three reasons why this organization hits home for me. The first, because I love to swim. My skills as a swimmer have provided me with opportunities beyond my dreams- traveling the world, three amazing Olympic experiences, and most importantly, lasting friendships with my teammates, coaches and supporters. Secondly, donations from this event will go towards supporting the Children's Hospital in Oakland--the hospital where I spent the first two weeks of my life. I was born 8 weeks premature and without their help and resources, I would not be the person I am today. And thirdly, proceeds from Swim Across America will go towards supporting cancer research, treatment and patient care--another cause with which I have a very personal connection. My Aunt, Bonnie Sauter, has had a long standing battle with cancer and I have always admired her strength in battling this disease. I hope that in a small way, our swim can impact the families with their own battles and one day we can completely eradicate the disease.

If you would like to learn more about the organization, Swim Across America or donate to our Team, I encourage you to click the link below.

I know that right now, with the financial issues we are all facing, it may be difficult for you to donate. But know that even the smallest amount can help! THANK YOU!!!!!