What an amazing experience to finally make it and compete at London Trials! Honestly, this time last year I still wasn't sure if I'd be able to compete at this meet due to the nerve injury I had for over a year. I can tell you that Trials was the most intense swim meet I have ever done and I'm so happy I made it that far.
No, I didn't make the London Team this time around, but I'm so happy for my friends who did. I had to be top 10 in the world and I made top 15 for one of my events. I was close, just not close enough for London, but I did an amazing job. Considering I've really been training since last June after being cleared to swim coming from a time when I couldn't write or hold a fork to dropping over a minute in time at this swim meet from November (2011) and dropping my world rankings from being last to 15th and 17th is incredible...in addition to now being 1st in the country...even I'm shocked. I gave it every single ounce I had and I loved every minute of it. Just to think that in 2007 I had no clue what Paralympic swimming was and 5 years later I've made it so far makes me think how much farther I can go in this sport.
I could not have gotten this far on my own. Certainly the support from my family has kept me going and grounded, especially everything I've learned from my mom along this journey. Since 2007, my mom has been there for every step and hurdle, swim meet, and a ton of boring practices in the stands. All the teams, coaches, and teammates I've been with shaped the athlete I am today, especially my high school team for showing me the love of the sport. All the friends I've made on this journey from teammates, classmates, professors at Wheaton, MCC, Trinity, and Northeastern, my former teachers, friends at swim meets, parents, triathletes, Paralympians, thank you for being there for me. I've learned from every encounter how supportive and good people are; I cannot tell you how humbling and encouraging it is when a stranger at the grocery store says, "I believe in you, keep going". A huge shout out goes to my CCAT Team, Keith, Sara, and Kim for being there for me whether it was at 6AM practice or those early swim meets that seemed to take up every weekend! And a big shout out to Corey for teaching me the little things in swimming that make a huge difference when racing. To my trainers and physical therapists along the way, especially the ones this past year for getting me over my injury; I know I would not have made Trials without you. I wouldn't have gotten this far without the help from Cornerstone and everyone who works there! That pool is always open, even during snow stroms, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, when all pools are usually closed! I love getting to Cornerstone at 7AM and training with other triathletes and Ironman athletes; they motivated me every morning when the water was way too cold! A big thank you goes to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I have gained so much confidence from the staff and fellow athletes on what it means to just go for it with a positive attitude. I met my closest friends who are now family to me through CAF and I am so grateful. CAF has opened huge doors to amazing opportunities and friendships along the way. I can't wait for the San Diego Tri this October! The Hospital for Special Care and The Tolland Fund have also been so supportive throughout my journey. I love how they encourage our local challenge athletes to get involved in sports. It's pretty amazing seeing childrens' faces light up realizing what they can do with their lives in sports. I'm so incredibly grateful to have such a strong support system throughout the years from swimming at Glenbrooke, talking with Mrs.Kirsche about training in my high school hallways, hanging out with Jeannine at the '04 Olympic Center, to telling my story to President Clinton...I'm so grateful.
Living your dream is the most fulfilling, exhilarating, heartbreaking, and humbling experience. Regardless of your circumstance, I say go for it. You truly do not know how far you can push yourself, and I promise you, you will be shocked on what you can accomplish. I'm truly happy to be on this journey because I'm living with absolutely no regrets and 100% passion. That's what it's all about.
This entire experience has certainly showed me what I could make of myself when truly believing in a dream, fully committed 100% everyday since December of 2007. That's something I could have never learned in a classroom or from a book. Going into Trials I thought, "I could achieve greatly or not get what I want", but I did both. I achieved so much, but just didn't get what I wanted this time around and I'm perfectly okay with that. But this is unfinished business. I finish whatever I start and I'll be the one to determine when my time is up. I'm not done with swimming just yet...
In the meantime, it's time to go away on a remote island off the east coast.