The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘Taylor Baughman’

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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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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