Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Olympic Swimmer with Pearl Earrings and Resolve

I've meant to blog more, and to blog about the Olympics. I have lots of thoughts to share because I enjoy the Olympics so much. However life has succumbed me once again, alas to the point of even missing much of the women's incredible gymnastics competition this week. Even so my trials are so little compared to others, but more on that in a bit.

First, I want to talk about pearl earrings.

Faux Pearl Collection

Earlier this week I felt a kindred spirit connection with American Olympic swimmer Kathleen Baker. Why? She likes pearl earrings so much, she wears pearl earrings when she competes! That's a gal after my own heart, not that I compete in swimming but my favorite jewelry is pearl jewelry. I have quite the collection of pearl earrings, mostly faux jewelry, that I've probably worn them at times to the pool myself. Unfortunately I've lost one, in the Smithsonian American History museum a few years ago when we attended before the Presidential Inauguration while meeting Mount Rushmore Presidents and swooning over First Ladies' Inaugural Gowns. It's sadness to lose a pearl earring. They were a favorite pair.

But Kathleen's story is more incredible! She has a thing for wearing pearl earrings in every race! (Have I mentioned how classy that is?) The sadness was that she lost one of them last Sunday while swimming a preliminary race for the 100-meter backstroke.  Thankfully a diver in full gear found it at the bottom of her lane at the 15-meter mark. I love one of the tweets in response: "Jewelry lost and found from Rio: Lost: pearl earring. Found: silver medal. Kathleen Baker will take that trade." (Pat Forde) See his tweet and the story and photos of her in classy style here.

The pearl story introduced me to her more dramatic story of how she is such an incredible swimmer, that she could conceivably train, compete and likely win in several swimming events. However Kathleen has Crohn's Disease. This disease is so debilitating that she had to curtail her swimming.

Nevertheless, she refused to be completely consumed by Crohn's. “I found doctors who weren’t going to be just like, ‘You’re Kathleen with Crohn’s disease.’ I need to be Kathleen the swimmer with Crohn’s disease.” (Kathleen Baker)

She found such a doctor, though he wasn't sure if the Olympics was even possible. As determined as the disease was to overtake her, she was more determined to have not only a normal life, but also a chance at the Olympics. Her desire was to swim, swim, swim. From the Olympic commentators I learned that her coaches saw her potential was to race in various events with great success. However balance was needed.

Reluctantly, Kathleen reduced training to one pool session a day. She reduced her races to one event. The nineteen year old made the 2016 Rio Olympic team. She competed. She scored her personal best time. She won a silver medal!!! 

For more details on her story with Crohn's Disease, read this. Also at the link is a picture of her wearing pearl earrings even in the 8th grade! Such class!

Yet now the story is that Kathleen might be able to race on Sunday. Another chance at gold! Team gold! This race will be the 4x100 medley relay. She'd, of course, swim the backstroke leg of the race. Nothing is official yet for the determined swimmer with pearl earrings. Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment