The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

List of Offenses

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on August 10, 2009

I can’t believe I flew across the country to go to a swimmeet.

Offense the 1st: flyingunited-airlines-boeing-747

There are a multitude of good reasons for the failure of the airline industry.  (for example)  I flew United from Boston to Chicago and then from Chicago to Seattle.  Flying is a de-humanizing activity.  Airports are run to make the passengers feel like cattle.  You are rushed into compressed spaces, stripped, searched, poked, prodded, judged.  Don’t try to talk to the security people, they are handlers, too busy for conversation.  But at least they smile.

The flight attendants for United almost never smiled.  They firmly told us to buckle our seatbelts and turn off all our electronics.  (Why is it necessary for me to turn off my iPod during take-off?  It has no wireless feature, and I need the music to distract from the fact that I’ve been strapped into a metal, airtight germ-incubator that’s about to hurtle thousands of feet above the ground.)

Now that the safety lecture is shown on tv monitors, the flight attendents don’t even have to do the safety dance!

Despite the indignity of flying, I jumped at the opportunity to come to the Pacific Northwest.  The second I drove my rental car onto the tree-lined highway, I was charmed by the trees and the mountains and the 10-lane highway.  Felt like home.

Probably my favorite part of the trip, however, was spending one-on-one time with Lara.  I haven’t spent time alone with Lara ever — at least, not since we stopped playing with Barbies.

Offense the 2nd: the pool.

One word: bleachers.

With all the fancy doodads in competition pools these days (check this out, I mean movable floor???), why can’t some R&D go into designing bleachers that accomodate the human rear end, not flat metal slats that cripple your spine.

The chlorine stung my eyes, and the echo chamber-qualities deafened me.  It was full assault on all my senses, not to mention BORING!  I can only stare at perfect abs for so long, though there were many many perfect abs on display.  Unless you know people to cheer for, swimmeets are boring.  Luckily I’m a champion day-dreamer and people-watcher.

fancy pool, with bleachers

fancy pool, with bleachers

This meet was far more casual than any meet I’ve been to since Lara graduated from high school.  Far more smiles, far fewer game-faces.  Only a handful of Olympians.

Lara swam in the 4oom free relay, which was fun to watch.  According to Lara, none of the swimmers were strong in the 100 Free, but they broke the meet record.  Congrats to Leone Vorster, Lara, Whitney Myers, and Genny Konicke.

Lara swam the 100m backstroke “for fun.” 

Lara jumps into the pool for the 100m Backstroke.

Lara jumps into the pool for the 100m Backstroke.

She swam in Prelims, but she didn’t make Finals, so I went to Seattle that evening.  I went up the Space Needle, but the coolest thing was the Science Fiction Museum.  There was a Jim Henson exhibit that was wicked awesome.  I almost want to move to Seattle just to work at that museum.  Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside, so I can’t offer any proof of coolness, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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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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