The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Bad-Ass

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 11, 2009

No high school athlete can get very far without her parents.  parents shirts front10.08 003.jpg

My parents have always hovered over the line between “supportive” and “pushy.”

In high school, it seemed like Lara wanted to quit swimming every few months.  She wanted to hang out with friends or visit her horse rather than go to practice.

My father knew what potential Lara had, he knew that if she toughed it out, the glory and recognition would come.  You try to explain that to a 16-year-old.

When Lara found it especially irksome to go to practice, they would let her have some time off.  My parents wanted her to succeed, but they didn’t want her to burn out.

When Lara was 18, I came home from college for spring break.  I watched her compete in a city meet.  I remember watching all the swimmers step onto the blocks.

Dara Torres lots of women diving.jpgCan you tell them apart?  I wished there was some big distinguishing mark on Lara’s back so I could pick her out from the bleachers.

Later that week, Lara disappeared for an afternoon.  When she came home, she showed me her stinging-new, blue, star tattoos on her shoulder blades.  I promised not to tell our parents.

Here’s a little background about my father and what he calls “body mutilation.”  When I was 12, I really wanted my ears pierced.  My dad refused, and my mom agreed.  I kept begging.  Finally my dad said I could get my ears pierced if I wrote a report on the infections and allergies assoiciated with cutting holes in one’s flesh and driving bits of metal through.  Well, before the internet, it was too hard for me to find research on “The Dangers of Ear Piercing,” so my father finally relented.

Nevertheless, you can imagine what he felt about tattoos.

Lara didn’t tell my parents about her tattoos.

Lara at block in Tucson.jpg She let my mom discover the tattoos when they went on vacation together the next week.  I was safe at school.  None of the Jackson womenfolk knew how Dad would react.

 He took it pretty well.  Lara was 18, there was nothing he could do.  He said as far as tattoos go, there are worse things she could have gotten, in worse places.

 When Lara joined the Arizona Wildcats that fall, my parents met other swim parents at orientation.  Swimmers are generally cleancut; Lara has a lipring, her hair was dyed black, and she had tattoos.  The swimmers and their parents didn’t know how to react.

 When they told the others that Lara Jackson was their daughter, the common response was, “Oh, she’s actually pretty nice.” 

 My parents responded, “Well, we always thought so.”

 When my parents went to the first dual meet, my dad noticed that families of swimmers wore Arizona t-shirts with their names on it.  Dad said to Mom, “We don’t have to put our name, we can just put Lara’s tattoos.”  And the brand was born. 

parents shirts back10.08 004.jpg

 So much for the rebellious teenage act.

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