Update from Barcelona!
Guess who was on our flight from Barcelona to Mallorca? Rafael Nadal and Billy Bush! They stopped for a picture with us at the airport!
Our hotel in Mallorca was right on the Mediterranean and looked like a postcard! It was amazing!
We began training in Mallorca for almost a week and then flew to Barcelona for training before the competition starts. The weather has been perfect and the pool is amazing! The boards are really nice and it's really nice to meet so many athletes from so many different countries! There are 44 countries represented just in diving!
I've seen the Spanish national coach with whom I trained with during my semester abroad in college and its been really nice to catch up with him. He still won't let me speak English him but it's good for me.
We've done some sightseeing and still have a lot of places to see yet. We toured around Olympic village and saw the stadium, torch, swimming pool, and the walk of athletes with footprints from a bunch of athletes.
The USA team is so much fun. I don't think I go an hour without laughing hysterically and the coaching staff is really supportive.
I will post some pictures when I get back to the US when I have access to my computer.
Thanks for the support!
Team USA with Rafael Nadal
My lifelong dream, for as long as I can remember, has been to become an Olympic athlete. I think this ambition is due to a combination of things. For one, having an innate passion to be successful at everything I do, and secondly, a desire to be as successful as both of my extremely athletic parents. Both my mother and father participated in multiple Olympic trials; my mother in the high jump for Canada and my father in the pole vault for the USA. My parents' achievements seemed pretty standard and commonplace to my 6-year-old self. Clearly, my perception of the world has changed slightly.
Since I was first able to understand the significance of the Olympics, I was hooked. The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta was my first memory of such incredibly talented athletes. I had been taking gymnastics lesson for 2 years at that point and I was inseparable from the gymnastics competition on the TV. I immediately convinced myself that I would one day be one of them. I continued my gymnastics training in Newton, Iowa, a neighboring town of Grinnell, until I could no longer practice there. My parents, both college coaches, were unable to drive me to practice after school due to their own practice schedules. Fortunately, there were a couple of girls whose parents were generous enough to let me ride with them to gymnastics practice. Unfortunately, only a year after I started training there, the other girls in the program decided to stop taking gymnastics. This meant that I was forced to stop taking gymnastics. My next adventure would be dance.
I began dancing at Michelle's Dance Academy in Grinnell mostly because the studio had a tumbling class, which in my mind was the next best thing to gymnastics. As I learned tap, ballet, and jazz, I began to enjoy it and craved more. I began taking pointe, clogging, and modern classes. All of the different types of dance I learned made me a stronger, more flexible, agile athlete and dancer. After my 8th grade dance recital, the high school swimming coach approached me and asked if I would be interested in trying to dive the following year. She said that my air-sense and tumbling abilities would translate well on the diving board. I wasn't completely sold on the idea and decided I would first attend a volleyball camp to determine if I would join the volleyball or the swimming & diving team.
Obviously, I did not end up on the volleyball team. If I had, I would not be writing this and the rest is not history"¦yet. I qualified for state diving 3 years and finished runner-up my senior year. I signed with the University of Iowa on scholarship and elevated my expectations to become a competitive Division I diver. I competed at the Big Ten Conference Championships and qualified for the NCAA Zone qualifying meet every year. I trained with coaches and divers from Iowa, Michigan, Oregon, and Spain, where I was able to study abroad and train with the Spanish national team. After redshirting my 4th year at Iowa, I began competing again and finished my last collegiate season with Iowa school records in 3-meter synchronized diving, 3-meter, and 1-meter, finishing in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places respectively at the Big Ten Championships. I completed my collegiate career at the NCAA national swimming and diving championships, finishing 10th on 3-meter and 15th on 1-meter, garnering All-America honors in both. The summer following my last season as a Hawkeye, I competed in the 2011 World Championship Trials, finishing 8th in 3-meter synchro and 13th on 1-meter. The summer thereafter, I competed in the 2012 US Olympic Trials in 3-meter synchro and individual 3-meter, placing 4th and 18th respectively.
After taking the rest of the summer off after the Olympic Trials, and having a coaching change due to my former coach's (Bob Rydze) retirement, I began relearning and rebuilding my skills and technique with my new coach Todd Waikel, and increasing the difficulty of my list of dives. My first competition since the Olympic Trials was the 2013 World Championship Trials. Having felt slightly underprepared, as a result of a lack of competition over the previous year, I entered the meet with few expectations and finished the meet as a member of the USA World Championships Team for individual 1-meter and 3-meter which will take place in Barcelona, Spain. Although this is not the actual Olympic Games, it is very similar as it takes place every two years with the same selection procedure and the same number of athletes per country. Countries usually send different athletes, not necessarily their best, to international competitions throughout the year so that their national team members get international experience. However, this is the one competition, besides the Olympics, in which each country is sure to send their most talented athletes.
While my diving appears to be going well and my training is paying off, I have not yet reached my ultimate goal of making an Olympic team. Over the next 3 years leading up to the Olympics I will incur costs of up to $90,000 from training and competing. When I'm not practicing, I can be seen in a few places: commuting 150 miles daily to and from Iowa City and Grinnell for diving practice, coaching high school diving, coaching college diving, teaching dance at the dance studio, or coaching high school softball. I keep a healthy balance in my life by teaching the things that I love to others. Fortunately, all of these jobs happen in the evening, when I am not in Iowa City diving. However, one of the reasons I am working all of these jobs is because they are seasonal and I need a source of income throughout the year. I plan on going back to school for a master's degree once I have more time to study and attend classes, but for now, I am focusing on fulfilling my diving ambitions. In order to do this, I need a constant income on which I can live as well as pay for gas because I drive between Iowa City and Grinnell for diving practice everyday. I save each month for upcoming competitions because USA Diving does not pay for athletes to travel and compete at any national meet within the US, including the Olympic Trials. This means that I normally spend each year's savings on one or two competitions per year. The contests that are farthest away and last the longest cost me more money, one of which was the 2013 World Championship Trials. Due to the length and distance from home, I was unable to pay entirely for the expenses for flights, hotel stay, entry fees, and food. Fortunately, I had financial help from a number of personal sponsors within my hometown, Grinnell, Iowa, and I'm so grateful to have grown up in small-town Iowa where so many kind, generous, and supportive people have taken a genuine interest in my life.
I would be so incredibly appreciative of any financial support in my quest to becoming an Olympian. Any amount would be more than appreciated. Thank you for taking an interest and considering a contribution to my diving aspirations. I am so thankful for your time and support!