I woke up with a few more butterflies in my stomach this week. There's only a few more days to wait until my first race at the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials in Montreal: the 100-metre backstroke.
That was also the first event I swam at the 2008 Olympic Trials, and the race that put me on my first Olympic team. For those of you who have followed some of my previous blogs, you know that I've been trying to break the elusive one-minute barrier in this race for a very long time. Basically, for the last four years.
Last summer, I left the world championships in Shanghai disappointed, my best time still firmly set at 1:00.3. Now, I have a different goal in mind. There are no more numbers, because I became too obsessed with "59." Now, I just want to race. I know I'm a racer. I know I swim well under pressure. I just want to get behind those blocks and see what I'm capable of.Keeping my options open
Right now, my Canadian teammates and I are in Jacksonville, Fla., soaking up some extra Vitamin D and adjusting to the three-hour time difference from our training base in Victoria before we fly up to Montreal.
Every day, we have the luxury of training at the Bolles School, a prep school that boasts one of the best sports programs in the country. Our hotel is located at the back of a classy outdoor mall, so naturally, the shopper in me is happy (although my bank account is starting to stress). As my practices get shorter, my energy levels increase and I begin to get anxious to just get to Montreal and race. I know that being nervous and excited is normal, but, since I still have a week to go, I have to force myself to stay calm. I will practice my yoga, watch movies, read and, of course, head over to the nail salon for my pre-meet mani/pedi ritual.
A lot of people have been asking me if I plan on shortening my event list at the trials, especially in light of my disastrous 100 backstroke-200 IM double at last summer's world championships. The answer? Sort of .
This many months out from the Olympics, it's still hard to predict where my best shot at the podium is. First of all, only a handful of countries have chosen their Olympic teams, so only some of the top women have played their cards in terms of how fast they are right now. Second, it's hard to predict what kinds of improvements I may make. Therefore, I'm still going to swim four or five different events at trials.
Unfortunately, the only day when I don't have any events is Day 1. You'd hope that, in a six-day meet, your day off would fall somewhere in the middle. But it's impossible to expect every detail to turn in my favour. I'm actually pleased with my event order (other than those five consecutive days of racing) because it's identical to my events in 2008. And that order worked out pretty well for me.The Cheesecake Test
At the trials I'll be competing in the 100 backstroke (March 28), 200 freestyle (March 29), 200 IM (March 30), 100 freestyle (March 31) and 200 backstroke (April 1).
No, the fact that I'm entered in the 200 backstroke is not some sort of April Fool's Day joke. In light of the fact that the 200 IM semifinal and 100 backstroke final are back to back at the Olympics this summer, I decided to open the door to another (albeit longer and much more painful) backstroke event.
For those of you wondering what happened to my beloved 50-metre backstroke - in which I hold the Canadian record and placed sixth at the world championships - it's not an Olympic event. The 50-meter freestyle is the only "splash and dash" at the Olympics - the stroke 50 didn't make the cut.
Still, I'm going to be a busy girl at trials, but that's how I like it!
Our camp in Jacksonville has helped keep me both focused and distracted at the same time. I know what's coming. I've been through it before, successfully. Now I just have to wait and continue to resist going to The Cheesecake Factory (located no more than a hundred metres from our hotel) and eating myself out of taper. I've decided that someone, somewhere, is testing me right before the trials.
It's a good thing I'm tough.
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