The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’

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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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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Pac-10 and The Swim Meet Schedule

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 12, 2009

NCAA 2008 Champ.jpgI have only been to one of my sister’s college meets, but it was the big one: NCAA 2008.

To the left: Lara accepted her 1st place medal for the 50 free at NCAA 2008.  She’s making a “WC” with her hand, for Wildcats.

My parents, as I have mentioned before, are experienced swimmeet cheerleaders.  By 2008 Lara was a junior and Mom and Dad had the schedule down pat.

This week, Lara and her teammates are swimming in the Pac-10 Conference in Seattle.  When you click on this (fourth photo in), you can see a picture of the 200 medley relay team, Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler, Lara Jackson and Lindsey Kelly.  Click here for UofA Pac-10 coverage.

If you’re very excited about Lara swimming, or if you don’t have anything else to do, you can watch live streaming of Lara’s best event, the 50 freestyle.  Just go to this website, and a screen will appear during the meet at the bottom right-hand corner.  Lara’s 50-free will begin at approximately 10 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 26.

Here’s what my parents’  Thursday will look like:

Early in the a.m., Mom will gather with other swim parents to assemble gift bags for all the doing goodie bags.jpggirls.  Parents collect little things like headbands, worry stones, removable tatoos, other goodies.  Anything in school colors is highly valuable.The parents leave the gift bags outside the girls’ hotel rooms.  This is a picture of me and the swim moms.

Mom and Dad will go to preliminaries and sit through many many heats.

From this glossary I found on the USA Swimming site:

 

 

Heats 

After preliminaries, Mom and Dad will go out to lunch.  Sometimes Lara goes too, but she won’t on Thursday.  So my parents will get food and bring it to her at the hotel.  During a meet, the swimmer’s needs come first.  I didn’t realize this when I went to NCAAs.  I didn’t realize that I would have no access to any food until Lara had everything she needed.  This year, I’m bringing a stash of Kashi bars.

Afternoon is rest time.

 In the evening, all the parents wait for the swimmers to come down to go warm up before finals. Parents cheering.jpg

 To the right is a picture of U of A parents cheering, waiting for that first swimmer to step off the elevator.

 The parents sing the Arizona fight song, wave pom-poms and generally try to embarrass their daughters.

 Finals will begin at 6 p.m. in Seattle, on Thursday.  They may continue until after 9 p.m.  Then my parents will congratulate Lara and the other swimmers and parents, collect Lara’s first place trophy, and only then can anyone who’s not a swimmer get dinner.

I’m bringing lots of Kashi bars.

– the division of an event in which there are too many swimmers to compete at one time. For example, an event with thirty swimmers in a six-lane pool would require five heats.In other words: there are eight lanes in a pool.  An event is the stroke and length (e.g. 50 meter freestyle).  A heat is a round of eight swimmers within an event.  The fastest 16 swimmers will swim in finals that evening.

 

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Out in the West Texas town of El Paso

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 12, 2009

cristo rey el paso from citydatadotcom.jpgEl Paso, Texas.  The Sun City.  Imagine the state of Texas in your mind.  See that far left pointy bit? That’s El Paso, squished between New Mexico and old Mexico.
Famous El Pasoans:

Don Haskins led the first basketball team with five black starters to NCAA victory, and then they made a movie about it.

Lee Trevino got his start at a golf tournament in El Paso.

Debbie Reynolds was born in El Paso.

And don’t forget Marty Robbins:

Though technically within Texas borders, El Paso does not, like every other major Texas city, claim to be home to the only “True Texans.”
Fun facts about El Paso:
It has a slightly larger population than Boston.
It is the fourth largest city in Texas.
It is the home of Chico’s Tacos.  NOT for the amateur.
Most El Paso residents are of Mexican descent.

When we were little babies, my parents put Lara and me in the care of a Mexican lady, Toni.  Toni weaned us on refried beans and Spanish rice and homemade tortillas, and menudo.  Mmm menudo, and I don’t mean the Ricky Martin band.  Here’s a site with more information than you will ever need about menudo.
desert pic el paso planetwaredotcom.jpgDespite four years each in her care, Lara and I do not speak Spanish.  It’s probably the biggest shame in my life.
Lara has not forgotten her home town — she mentions it whenever the press ask where she’s from.  And her home town has not forgotten her.

Lara was nominated to the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame on February 18, 2009.  Flip Lyle, triathlete and Hall of Fame treasurer, nominated her.  In Lara’s category three out of 10 to 15 athletes are chosen per year.

“I was excited and delighted to nominate Lara,” Lyle said over the phone.  “She is obviously an extraordinary swimmer.”
Three people must speak on the nominee’s behalf.  Lara’s high school coaches, including Wright Stanton, spoke for her and my parents assembled a resume of her achievements.
view from franklins.jpgLara still finds it “surreal” to think that so many people pay attention to her career.  Lara doesn’t think of herself as bigtime yet, but she said, “It feels good to be supported by your hometown.”

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Lara: The Competitor

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 10, 2009

Hi, nice to meet you.

No, I’m not the swimmer.  I’m the other daughter.

This is how I have introduced myself to my parents’ friends for 10 years.

My sister began swimming on a city league when she was 10 and a half, and began winning medals shortly after.

little lara with medals.jpgWe stopped Girl Scouts and the church youth group.  We never went camping again.  Most weekends, my parents and sister were busy at swimmeets.  Swimmeets in dark, musty, humid public pools.  Loud music echoed off cement walls, Adidas sandals slapped wetly on the cement floor.  Kids of all ages ran around in Speedos, caps and goggles.

Swimming was fun for the whole family.  My mom brought snacks and socialized with other parents.  My dad often volunteered to be dj.  Once, I even helped keep track of race times on a database.

I didn’t mind going to out-of-town meets.  Every year Lara competed in Tucson, Ariz.  We would drive five hours, see The Thing and then spend three days trying to sit comfortably on bleachers in 100 degree weather.  Fun times.

No really, I’m very proud of my sister.  I always wear Arizona shirts when she swims, well, when my parents remember to tell me she’s swimming.

In March 2008, I saw my sister swim in her third NCAAs competition.

sisters.jpg

Here we are in Ohio at the Aquatic Center.

She was a junior a University of Arizona, in Tucson.  Lara was part of the first women’s team to bring U of A and Coach Frank Busch the NCAA championship.  Lara took home four gold medals, one for her individual race, the 50-freestyle; and three as part of relay teams.

One thing I learned about my sister at my first college-level swimmeet:

She’s a bad-ass.

 competitor.jpgYes sirs & madams, that muscular, composed swimmer with the skeleton on her warm-up suit and tattoos on her shoulder blades, that’s my baby sister.

Lara like every athlete, brings her toughest face to the competition pool.

I was shocked at the stress level Lara dealt with at NCAAs.  Before that, she was just my sister.  We talked about boys and pets and clothes and school; and how crazy our parents are getting.  At a meet, though, my sister becomes The Competitor.  She swims with Olympians.  She does not let them see her sweat.  I know about her life away from the pool, because swimming is not her whole life.  For now, swimming is her focus.

She’s like me; when she decides to do something, she’s going to be the best.

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