The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Finally a decent profile

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on July 2, 2009

This article sums up what this summer means for Lara, and for the rest of the Jackson family.

http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/mailstory-clickthru/299271.php

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Pro Athlete

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on June 29, 2009

This summer, while I have been goofing off, reading all the delectable sci-fi I can get my hands on, my sister has been training hard for her first season as a professional athlete.

Floswimming.com produced this video showing the Arizona swimmers working out.  Lara’s tattoos make a cameo.

(photo by: Antoinette Jackson)

(photo by: Antoinette Jackson)

Lara was inducted to the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame.  To the left is a photo of Lara at the induction ceremony, next to the plaque that will hang in the HoF.  For more about the HoF, check this out.

While we were in El Paso, preparing for my dad’s funeral, U of Arizona announced that Lara received the Ruby Award.  This is given to the top female athlete at the University of Arizona, which has a lot of athletes.

And Lara signed with a sports agency, PMG Sports.  Lara’s agent is Bobby Brewer, though he explained that all the agents represent all the athletes.  They have this to say about Lara.  I hope it will get more impressive, soon.

Brewer was a National Champion in the 100 backstroke.  Having competed at that level, he said he knows how to take care of swimmers.  The swimming comes first, after that come the promotions.

Lara has not signed any sponsorship contracts yet.  Her task this summer is to prove herself and make the National Team.  In one week (July 6), Lara will swim the 50m-free and 100m-free in the 2009 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships and World Championship Trials.  If she gets first or second place in either race, she will represent the U.S. at the World Championship in Rome.  If she does that, her career as a professional swimmer will be set.  Go Lara!

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Update on the suits

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on June 18, 2009

As I was searching for official meet results for my next, very informative and entertaining blogpost, I found this article:

USA Swimming amends rules regarding swimsuits  (6/1/2009)

Basically those fancy suits that cover the whole body will no longer be allowed at competitive meets.  As of June 1, they count as “technological doping.”  What happens to all the world records broken in the past year?  I will find out.

I had a post about the swimsuits here.

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jeremiad

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on May 9, 2009

Jackson familyFor those of you who know me and my family personally, you know why this blog has been inactive for so many weeks.

I had every intention of writing about the rest of NCAAs before writing this post, but I just can’t do it.

A month ago today, on April 9, 2009, I woke up to find a text from my mom.  It said, “Call me as soon as you get this.” It had been sent in the wee hours of the morning, so I knew something bad had happened.

I called her and she told me that my dad had been in a motorcycle accident and that he didn’t make it.

I have tried writing about NCAAs, and I tried to convey the disappointment that we all felt.  I intend to write about the banquet at the end of the meet, because I was so proud of my sister, and I want to write about it.  But thinking of that disappointment and shock seems so superficial after losing my dad.

I will continue to write about swimming, especially since my dad loved reading this blog.  He told me so many times.  I also learned, when I was in El Paso, that he talked about it with his friends and co-workers.

Spending time at home, listening to so many people share their memories of Dad, I realized what a thoroughly good person he was.  I never doubted how much he loved us when he was alive, but I think we were all surprised how willingly he helped others.

My mom says that he was not a saint, but from where I sit, I have no criticism or annoyance to remember.

This blog is called “The Other Daughter” and to some it may seem that I resent my all the attention my sister gets for her swimming.  I certainly don’t.  My dad was one who got the joke.  He would, since I inherited his sense of humor.

I suppose some day that thought will comfort me.  Right now, I just wish I could laugh with him again.

I miss you Dad.  I love you.

 

If anyone has stories about Dad and what a devoted swim fan he was, please comment on this blog.

Thanks.

His obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/elpasotimes/obituary.aspx?n=keith-jackson&pid=126043501

For those of you who didn’t read it on Facebook:

El Paso Times (TX)

April 9, 2009
Section: News

Updated: Highway sign hits motorcyclist; he dies in crash
   Darren Meritz / El Paso TimesEL PASO — Keith Jackson, husband, father and motorcycle lover, seemed to have everything under control until he left work early Thursday in the windy darkness.

An accountant, he had stayed late at the office because it is tax season. Jackson had driven thousands of miles on his motorcycle, but nothing could have prepared him for the bizarre circumstances leading to the crash that took his life in Northeast El Paso. 

Riding his 2002 Honda Goldwing, he struck an exit sign that had broken and was swinging in the roadway as he exited from north U.S. 54 to Dyer. Police said they believe the sign broke because of high winds, which reached nearly 60 mph Wednesday night.

After hitting the sign, Jackson, 53, crashed and died on the roadway about 1 a.m.

Police said he was wearing a helmet and was not speeding. Wind, they said, was the big factor in the accident.

Always a motorcycle lover, Jackson never lost the urge to take in the open road. He often pressed his wife, Martina, to come along on a cross-country motorcycle trip like the one they took in 1980. They traveled from Portland, Maine, to Seattle, then to Southern California, where his parents live.

“Ever since we met in Boston – his first motorcycle was a Yamaha 400 – he just always enjoyed them,” Martina Jackson said in an interview hours after his death.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, both college students.

One of them, 22-year-old, Lara, is a champion swimmer at the University of Arizona. She competed last summer for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, missing by six hundredths of a second in the 50-meter freestyle.

Older daughter Carly Rose, 26, is a graduate student in journalism at Emerson College in Boston.

Martina Jackson said her husband for decades had a fascination with motorcycles.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Redwood Forest from the back of a motorcycle,” she said.

Keith Jackson came to El Paso in 1981 when he was stationed at Fort Bliss with the Air Defense Artillery. He went on to get his accounting degree at UTEP, then made a home and raised his family in El Paso.

He went home for dinner Wednesday night before he returning to the office, his wife said. He had been spending extra hours preparing tax returns ahead of the April 15 deadline, and probably was on his way home when he crashed, she said.

“He came home for dinner and we talked a little bit,” she said. “It sounds like it was a freak accident.”           Earlier this week the couple went to Tucson, where they attended a banquet for the University of Arizona swimming team. Keith Jackson was especially proud of Lara’s performance at the NCAA meet in March, when she set three American records in individual and relay events on the first day of competition.

In recounting the moment for El Paso Times Sports Editor John Erfort, he talked about how proud he was and how well life was going. Already, Erfort said, Jackson was thinking of 2012 and the prospect of Lara making it to the London Olympics.

Martina Jackson said she was awaiting word from the El Paso medical examiner, who she hoped would have more details about his death.

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NCAA Friday: the impossible happens

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on May 9, 2009

Lara puts on her competition suit.The first event of Friday was the 200-yard Medley Relay.  U of A women have owned this race since Lara was on the team.  The Wildcats have the American record from the 2008 NCAA meet.   Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler, Lara Jackson, and Anna Turner swam 1:35.29.  This year, the Arizona women planned to break that record so that no one could touch it for years.

Naturally Lara was in a good mood.  I caught her while she deck-changed.  That is, she changed from her warm-up suit into her competition suit while on deck, instead of going into the locker room.  All swimmers do this.

The best part was when Lara’s teammates helped her out.
Deck change: a team effort.

Deck change: a team effort.

Texas A&M distributed seats in such a way that a few Arizona fans were stuck far away from the competition pool.  We were the B section.  For Lara’s events, though, Mom was given a seat so she could video-tape.

Because my family was stuck in the boonies, I ran over to the good side of the pool so that I could see Lara’s races better.  Arizona fans often made a nuisance of ourselves.  The Aggie ushers were constantly telling us not to crowd the rows.  But most races take less than a few minutes, so we mostly ignored them.

The last heat of the preliminaries for the 200-yard Medley Relay, I was crowded with a bunch of other spectators who wanted a better seat for this race.  I also wanted to get good shots of Lara swimming butterfly.  I had a good vantage point, but I was keeping an eye out for the Aggie usher, because I didn’t want him to bug me.  Danny was standing right behind me.

The backstrokers jumped into the pool.  The buzzer went off, and I saw Hailey DeGolia flinch.  Then she was still holding onto the block while others were swimming.  Then the horn that announces a false start sounded.  Some swimmers didn’t hear the horn, so the officials tried to get their attention.  I turned to Danny, who swam competitively.  “Does this mean they can’t compete?” I asked him.  He gave a nod and a shrug.  Nobody knew what would happen.

We soon found out. Arizona was disqualified and would not compete in this race.

This DQ brought the energy among the Arizona fans to a screeching halt.  We hoped and prayed that the swimmers would be able to push through this horrible set back.

It was a silly accident.  It showed us that you can plan, and train, and work as hard as possible, but chance can still derail all careful plans.  We cheered and pushed until the very end of that weekend, but the girls just didn’t have the heart to break through the entropy.  They did their best, but it wasn’t enough to win the NCAA title.

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Aside: the “Do you know who we’re with?” thing

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on April 21, 2009

 
Danny, Mom, me, and Dad showing off the stars.
Danny, Mom, me, and Dad showing off the stars.

I wrote in my NCAA Wednesday blog about Danny coming all the way out to College Station to surprise Lara.  I know Lara was happy to see him there, but I was more directly affected.  Danny and I were buddies all weekend.

We first made our presence known by showing everybody our stars.  See the photo at right?  Mom is trying not to look embarrassed at how obnoxious we were.  Dad is just laughing.  By gray-shirt day (Friday), Danny and I had our routine down.

When something inconvenienced or annoyed us, (like when people were in our way, or there was no parking, or a restaurant was closed just because it was 11 p.m.) we would display our badges with Lara’s picture on them, and say loudly, “Hello?? Do you know who we are?  Do you know who we’re with?”

Like this:

The Jacksons, including Danny, display badges with Lara's picture.

Then we would turn around and point to the stars on our back.
 
Hey, it’s hard work being part of Lara’s crew.  We had to arrive early to warm-ups at prelims and finals.
We arrive; notice Danny's strut.

We arrive; notice Danny's strut.

We had to take plenty of pictures.
paparazzi-cropped
And if anyone strayed into our circle, we made sure she was fully equipped to join the fun.
My friend Rachel Davison recently moved to Austin.  She drove a couple hours to hang out while I was in College Station.  We gave her a shirt with stars, and she helped us cheer as the team left the the hotel for finals.
Though most of the time we played it cool, Danny did have a fanboy moment.  The five of us went out to dinner on Wednesday evening.  My swimmeet-veteran parents spotted some familiar faces: Annie Chandler and her parents and boyfriend Matt Grevers.
This is a blog about swimming for people who know nothing about swimming, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t recognize the name: Matt Grevers.  Click here and you will see that Matt Grevers got the Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke.  Click here and you will see that Grevers was in the 100-meter free relay that got a Gold Medal.
So Danny and my mom got a picture with Matt Grevers, along with his autograph:
A TYR ad featuring Matt Grevers.  Mom got his autograph.

A TYR ad featuring Matt Grevers. Mom got his autograph.

Can you see his signature next to his arm?  It says, “Go Cats & USA!”
Thanks Matt Grevers.

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NCAA Thursday: 3 races, 3 golds, 3 American Records

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on April 1, 2009

The swimmers warm up.  At this level they all look as graceful as penguins underwater.  P.S. That's a compliment.

The swimmers warm up. At this level they all look as graceful as penguins underwater. P.S. That's a compliment.

Thursday is always the most exciting day for the Jacksons.  This year, Lara swam the first leg of the 200 Free Relay, the 50 Free, and the Fly leg of the 400 Medley Relay.

Let’s break that down.

200 Free Relay

200 = 200 yards (because NCAA competitions are always in pools that are 25 yards long).

Free = freestyle.  Technically the swimmers could swim any stroke they want, but since the crawl is the fastest, everybody swims the crawl.  My parents said that at less formal meets, swimmers will often swim butterfly if they want to see how fast they can go.

Relay = 4 swimmers, each swimming a quarter of the distance.  In the 200 Free Relay, each swimmer swims 50 yards.

Lara started off the 200 Free Relay, which means that her time qualifies for records.  Other legs of the relay do not qualify, but coaches and swimmers do pay attention to the times of every swimmer.   Those are called splits.

Arizona has a very strong team.  They have always done great in the relays.  The women feed off each other’s energy.  As my father said at the NCAA banquet: this team is a whole, greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Arizona broke their American record from last year in the 200 Free Relay.  Lara broke the 50-yard free American Record in the first leg of the relay.

Swimmers, in order

Split time

(in seconds)

Total time

Lara Jackson

21:27

21:27

Lindsey Kelly

21:75

43:02

Justine Schluntz

21:59

1:04.61

Taylor Baughman

21:59

1:26.20

  Lara told us later that before they swam, Taylor said, nonchalantly, “Hey, could you just lead off with an American Record, it will really lift my spirits.”

Compare Arizona times with second place, Cal. (That’s University of California at Berkeley for the laypeople.)

Swimmers, in order

Split time

(in seconds)

Total time

Liv Jensen

22.09

22.09

Hannah Wilson

21.15

43.79

Madison Kennedy

21.54

1:05.33

Dana Vollmer

21.15

1:26.48

 

(All results found here.)

If you’re paying attention, you will notice that Cal lost by 0.28 of a second.  It took me 2.92 seconds just to read that last sentence.  You will also notice that Dana Vollmer swam faster than Lara, but because she didn’t start the relay, she doesn’t get the American Record.  Lara explained to me that when you begin a leg in a relay, you have more momentum when the timer starts.  The second swimmer’s toes have to still be touching the block when the first swimmer touches the wall, but the rest of the second swimmer’s body can already be leaning over the water: momentum.  When Lara started the race, she began from a still position.  Dana Vollmer started her leg, she was moving.

Later that evening, Lara won first place in the 50-yard free.

Then, the last race of the evening was the 400 Medley Relay.  Arizona again broke their own American Record from 2008 NCAAs and won first place.

Swimmer

Stroke

Split time

(in seconds)

Total time

Ana Agy

Back

51.13

51.13

Annie Chandler

Breast

57.95

1:49.08

Lara Jackson

Fly

51.80

2:40.88

Justine Schluntz

Free

47.43

3:28.31

 

At the end of the first night, Lara swam 3 races, won 3 first place trophies, and had her name on 3 American records.

Did you see the stars on the back of my shirt?  That’s so you know: I’m with Lara.

That's me.  That's the star on my back.  Do you know who I'm with?

That's me. That's the star on my back. Do you know who I'm with?

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Texas, or NCAA Wednesday

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 28, 2009

texas-shapeI had been looking forward to NCAAs since Christmas.  I couldn’t wait to see my family — I hadn’t seen my dad or sister for a year– and to be someplace warm.

My parents drove to College Station from El Paso.  They brought Lara’s best friend from high school, Danny Motoya.  You know he’s a very good friend because he spent nine hours in the car with my parents.  My dad made him listen to Mark Levin podcasts.  Now Danny has Mark Levin on his own iPod.

Lara didn’t know Danny was coming.  My parents and Danny kept it a secret for a whole year.  Danny even sent faux “good luck!” text messages to Lara on Wednesday.

Mom, Dad and Danny picked me up from the College Station airport, the smallest airport in the universe.  It was smaller than a Wal-Mart.  There was only one gate and one baggage claim.  I’m certain that 90 percent of the people on my flight were there for NCAAs.

Aw Texas.  There’s a saying in Texas,”I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could,” (I found out this phrase has been imitated by California and Montana among others, but those states are just fooling themselves.)

Well, I was born in Texas — technically.  El Paso is really it’s own place, which I already wrote about here.  But I have road-tripped extensively through North Texas and Central Texas.  This is what road-tripping in Texas looks like:

The blue sky, the green grass, the open road.

The blue sky, the green grass, the open road.

I couldn’t stop looking at the sky!  We don’t have sky in Boston, we have tall buildings and a gray space.  There’s something about open space that makes you feel like you can breathe.  I miss that.

The other major difference about Texas is how people talk to you.  On Wednesday night we went out to dinner and the waiter was very attentive.  He made eye-contact with every person at the table, and there were five of us!  Can you imagine a New England waiter taking the time to wish you a good night and look you in the eye?  I have yet to find one.  At first I thought he was just working for his tip, but no, that’s just how people are in Texas.

Back to the reporting: Lara’s fan club (Mom, Dad, Danny and me) were at the hotel when the team came back from the pool.  Danny hid behind a large column.  Lara came in and she hugged us.  I was ready with my camera.  Then Danny came out from behind the column.

In the crowded Hilton lobby, Lara yelled, “What the f*** are you doing here?” and jumped on him.

Here are my pictures: Danny Surprise

Then she whispered, “I said the f-word really loud and people looked at me.”

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Olympic Trials Part II

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 15, 2009

Olympic Trials were the last week of June and the first week of July.  I had a wedding to go to in Chicago over the weekend that Lara would swim her 50-free.

Lara was in Lane 5.  Photo by: Martina Jackson

Lara was in Lane 5. Photo by: Martina Jackson

Lara swam preliminaries in the morning, Saturday July 5.  I was staying at the Palmer House Hilton, with many of the wedding guests.  I managed to sneak away from the festivities to watch prelims in the business center at the hotel.  I think it cost $7 per 15 minutes of internet use, but I wanted to make sure I could hear everything and get the live feed set in plenty of time.  I monopolized one of three computers in the UPS business center for about an hour.  Those hotel guests who needed to print boarding passes? Yeah, they had to wait.

I managed to get the video feed, but I couldn’t hear anything either in my headphones or through the computer’s speakers.  I asked the two UPS guys working in the business center.  They could tell I was pretty anxious.  My hands were a little shaky and my voice was definitely tense.  They probably thought I was another irate customer.  Once I explained that my sister was swimming in Olympic Trials, they were very helpful, though.

By the time the 50-free started, sound was set, most of the hotel guests had left, so the two UPS guys and I watched the 12 heats of the 50-free.  Lara was in the 12th heat.  I wrote down the fastest time for each heat, and the World and US records in a notebook.  I wanted to know immediately how Lara did.  Turns out I didn’t need to worry.

So the 12th heat begins.  I’ve been sending text messages to my mom, so I know which lane to watch.  It started, I was tapping the desk.  The two UPS guys are riveted.  I start chanting, “Come on Lara, go Lara!  Faster Lara! Go! Go!” 

Also swimming in that heat was Dara Torres, who beat Lara in Nationals the year before.  The announcers were very excited about Torres, because she was 41-years-old.  They kept saying, “And keep an eye on Torres in lane” whatever, I didn’t care.

During the race, however, Lara pulled ahead of Dara, and the announcer said, “Whoa! Look at Lara Jackson!”

Lara won!  She broke the American record!  I was near tears.  The UPS guys congratulated me, and one gave me a hug.  I thanked them for letting me occupy the whole business center.  He said it was exciting to be so close to a potential Olympian.

That’s when I realized the impact of the Olympics.  The unsung athletes get a lot of respect from people.  One of my friends, another guest at the wedding, said the Olympics is the one thing that makes her proud to be an American.  So even just watching the race with the sister of a potential Olympic athlete was memorable.

From the UPS business center, I went to a ladies brunch with the bride and several wedding guests.  I wore an Arizona t-shirt, with star tatoos on the back, over my brunch dress.  I wasn’t ready to take it off, I still had an adrenaline rush from Lara kicking butt in the race.  Thank goodness the bride was so understanding. 

Lara was expected to swim semi-finals shortly after the wedding ceremony.  I wouldn’t have to throw down more cash for the business center, though, because semi-finals were televised.  I went to the wedding, which was only a block away from the hotel.  I dressed up, put on the make-up, attended the wedding, cried, visited with friends, got my table designation, went through the receiving line, then ran back to the hotel to watch semi-finals.

The timing was perfect. 

Cecily and me at her wedding.jpg

To the right: Cecily Martin, the beautiful, understanding bride, and me in the receiving line, after which I ran back to the hotel to watch semi-finals.

I can’t remember if Lara got first place or not during semi-finals.  The important thing was that she made it to finals.  No problem.  She was in.  I went back to eat the delicious wedding dinner and shake my groove thing at the reception.

The months of anticipation wouldn’t find relief until the next day, July 6, 2008, 50-meter freestyle finals.  I was scheduled to be on a plane at the same time that Lara was to swim.  Bugger.

I got to the airport early, and claimed a table in a cafe where I could watch Olympic Trials on TV.  The minutes ticked away, and I debated how badly I wanted to watch finals.  Would it be worth missing my flight?  Did I really need to go to work the next day?  So what if I spent the night in Chicago Midway airport?

Well, turns out I like my creature comforts.  I watched the trials, but no miracle occurred to bump up the 50-meter freestyle race before my flight.

Instead, I spent the whole flight clutching my phone, sighing and rocking back and forth.  Yes, I was literally rocking in my seat.  The passenger sitting next to me probably thought I was crazy, or severely afraid of flying.  I waited until I could turn my phone on and send a text to my mom to find out what happened.  I stared at my watch, “Ten minutes after 7 o’clock.  Do they know yet?  Do they know if Lara is going to Beijing?”

“What would happen if I turned on my phone mid-flight?  Would it interfere with the pilot’s radio?  Would a flight attendent storm down the aisle to reprimand me for putting all our lives in danger?”

“Fifteen minutes, do they know now?  Why can’t this plane go faster?”

“I’m sure I saw that flight attendent using her Blackberry.  How dare they tell passengers to turn off electronics and she’s using her Blackberry??  What if she interferes with the pilot’s radio?  She could be putting all our lives in danger!?”

“Do I have to wait for the plane to reach the gate, or is it safe to use my phone when we’re on the ground?”

“Twenty minutes past.  They know now.  They’re either celebrating or mourning,  Which is it?  Why can’t I be in Omaha right now?”

“Twenty-five minutes past.  The whole world knows except me.”

I was never on a longer flight.  I was good, though, I didn’t turn on my phone until the flight attendent said so.  I sent a text to my mom: “WHAT HAPPENED?”  No response.  I called.  No response.  I sent a text to my dad.  I called my dad.  I called my mom again.  Nothing.  They forgot me.  They completely forgot that I exist and want to know what the hell happened.

Finally Mom answered her phone: “She got third,” Mom said.

Seriously?  Third?  That’s worse than last place!  Stupid Dara Torres!  She’s already been to the Olympics! Four times!  Let someone else go!  Let my sister go!

Alas, four more years to wait.  What if Lara gets sick of swimming?

Here’s an NBC video of the finals race, in which Lara got third place.

Then, the woman who got second place, Jessica Hardy,  tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Trials 2008 bronze medal.jpgNormally this would mean that Lara could take her place on the team, but USA Swimming didn’t release the information in time to add Lara to the team.  Just as Lara, and all of us, were accepting Lara’s bronze (pictured left), we got this news.  It felt like she lost her place again.

Still, as her friend and co-captain Taylor Baughman says, Lara’s medal is framed and hanging in her room with the word “motivation” under it.  Motivation for this year, and the next three.  See you in London.

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Olympic Trials Part I

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 14, 2009

Last spring, Lara winning 50-yard free at NCAA planted the seed of expectation for Olympic Trials in July.  I thought about the Trials constantly.


Trials 2008 pool length & crowd.jpg


Above is a picture of the pool at the Qwest Center in Omaha where the Trials were held.  Notice the fancy display board and the huge crowd.  Can you imagine so many people going to watch a swim meet??


My parents spent the money to get tickets to Omaha.  We worried about Lara getting one of the high-tech suits, which she did.  I figured out how to watch the races via web streaming. 


My dad and I wondered if we would be able to go to Beijing if she did make the Olympic team.  Believe it or not, parents of athletes do not get free tickets to Olympic games.  Total bunk, don’t you think?


Lara’s chances to make the Olympic team were excellent.  At Nationals the year before she took second place to Dara Torres in the 50-free.  If Olympics were in 2007, Lara would have gone.  We were stoked.


Because of her excellent swim at Nationals in 2007, Lara was invited to swim in Japan for USA Swimming.  And thanks to YouTube, I found a video of it.  Unfortunately, Lara is Lane 2, which you can’t see from the camera angle.  Still, it’s fun to hear how excited the announcers get.


 


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