The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘swimming’


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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The trodden path

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 11, 2009

Lara has been swimming since she was 10 and a half. Lara & Melissa.jpg

Her first coach, Melissa Lomeli, is still a part of our family.  Lara was a bridesmaid at her wedding.  My mom has a dog that once belong to Melissa.

When Lara got older, she found coach Wright Stanton.

He started a USA Swimming club team: the Barracudas.

He had to start his own team because of major drama with the other swim teams in El Paso.

You thought the Desperate Housewives were dram-queens.  They got nothing on private team rivalry in El Paso, Texas.

Part of the rift was caused by Coach Stanton’s style.  He focused on form, not necessarily on speed.  If Lara had a bad habit, he would pull apart her stroke until her habits improved.  Sometimes this meant that Lara didn’t swim as fast.  Another coach may have ignored the little flaws in Lara’s technique because she was so fast.  Not Wright.

When Lara went to college, she did not have the same impressive swim resume as most of her fellow freshmen swimmers.  She felt she was the slowest, shortest, weakest on her team.  She didn’t get a fancy scholarship.

But her sprint coach, Rick DeMont, has said that she has no bad habits.  She has grown into her strength.

As a senior this year, Lara is one of two team captains.  She has become an anchor on the team, bringing home a National Championship will do that.

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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.


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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