Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thank you's

Hey everyone! I know I've been MIA for the last few days but I've been so busy! My mom and brother were here so I was sightseeing with them and running around enjoying London. I want to write about everything but I don't have much time so I'm going to do that when we get back to the States. Today is the last day of the Games and we leave tomorrow morning after the Closing Ceremonies. I am already getting nostalgic about leaving this place. It's been a magical experience and I don't want it to end. I've made many amazing memories here that I will carry with me and will always remember. But more on that later. As I finish this Olympics, I want to thank some people who have been instrumental in my journey. So bear with me as I go through this list!

A big thank you to:

My mom - for sticking by my side no matter what, teaching me to think for myself and for supporting my dream with all her heart
My dad - for believing in me when others didn't and encouraging me to do my best and for working those long nights at Bingo to support my swimming
My brother - for always being positive and so happy to see me. I love him so much and seeing how much he looks up to me inspires me to be a great role model.
Mayu - for pushing me farther than I thought possible, for making me a better athlete and stronger person and even for those crazy workouts that I barely survived!
Mary - for letting me swim next to the wall in the workouts, giving me a shoulder to lean on and being by my side in this Olympic journey
Caitlin (our reserve athlete) - for being so positive and full of life, for being a great reserve and an even better friend
Holly Heitzman (our physical therapist) - for keeping me in one piece during training and competitions. I wouldn't have been able to make it through this without Holly's magical hands
Brian Thompson - for adjusting the workouts to fit my personal needs and for joking around with us in the gym
The staff at St. Vincent Sports Performance - I always walked in to see smiling faces and everyone was extremely helpful and positive. Thank you for supporting us in every way you could!
Dr. Mark Safran - for doing my hip surgery and following up to make sure my recovery was going properly
Dr. Michael Coscia - for doing my back surgery and giving me support the last few months
Dane Smith - for helping design our free duet swim suits. They turned out great!
Tammy McGregor - for seeing the Olympic potential in me when I was young and for making me realize that I could go all the way. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself.
Heather Olson - for supporting all of my decisions and sticking by my side throughout the last few years.
My Tridelta sisters - for your endless support! I love my sisters and am proud to be a DDD



I know there are many many more people who have helped and supported me and there are not enough words to thank all of you. Without your love and support this experience would not have been what it was. Look out for another post soon about the last few days here in London.

Love,
Mariya

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tech duet competition


Tech duet day!

Today was the first day of competition and man was it a long day. I woke up at 5:45 am and we headed to the pool. We warmed up and then had practice with music, which we shared with Spain. There were only a few duets in the pool so it was nice to have our own space (I like my space during warmup, my teammates will tell you that!) Afterwards we knoxed and then came the actual competition warm up without music. I was slightly stressed out at the end of warm up because we couldn't get our walk-on right so we kept doing it over and over again. But by the end we had done it so many times that it was engrained in our heads (and we didn't mess up during the competition!)

We had a little bit of down time before the competition began so I spent the hour wearing my compression pants laying on the ground with my feet up and playing the Beatles on my iPhone. Very relaxing indeed! Finally, it was time to go. Mary and I got in the pool about 45 minutes before the competition started, went over the elements a few times and then headed to the last call room. We listened to our music and went over the main points we were trying to hit in the routine. 

By this time, I was getting nervous! I was thinking, oh man what if my legs aren't warmed up? What if I mess up the deckwork? But as soon as those thoughts came in my mind I pushed them away and kept saying, we can do this, we are ready! Staying positive calms me down and helps my body relax, which is very important for me before a swim. As soon as we walked out to the edge of the platform, my energy changed. I saw the hundreds of people in the stands, the American flags waving and the people cheering and suddenly I felt very calm. All eyes were on us. We were the first duet to compete and this is when it finally hit me. I am at the Olympic Games. And it was an undescribable feeling. I've never experienced anything like it, not at any other national, collegiate or international competition. As soon as we dove in, I knew it was going to be a good swim. I felt very calm and together and the swim was FUN! Usually I am preoccupied with thinking about my corrections or freaking out about how my legs are already tired but this time I could actually enjoy every second of the swim, even when my lungs were burning underwater. It was very cool.

Mayu told us it was our best swim yet, and even though there were some minor mistakes, Mary and I were both very happy with it. We did what we set out to do, which was to hit all of our elements, put on a great show for the audience and to set the bar high for the rest of the competition. We are in 10th place going into free duet tomorrow. We are only .2 away from 9th place and I think if we hit our routine we can blow the judges away. Today was a great start for us! I can't wait to swim tomorrow and to show off our free program. I loved getting the encouraging texts, messages and tweets :) it made my day to see how many people are thinking about and rooting for Mary and I so thank you again. 

Cheers,
MKor

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Now we go

Alright, the time has come. Tomorrow is the first day of competition - technical duet. And guess who will be starting off the Olympic Games for synchronized swimming with the #1 draw? MK SQUARED! That's right, we drew first. Although swimming first is not considered great luck in synchro, we looking at it in a positive way. We will be the duet to open up the competition. That's pretty cool to say that the first synchronized swimmer anyone will see at the Games will be me during our walkout! Hopefully swimming first will bring us some good luck :) Because we compete first, we will also have more time afterwards to practice our free routine for the day after. All in all,we can't control the draw, but we can use it to our advantage and really start the competition off with a bang and set the bar high for all the other duets. We will swim right at 3 London time so make sure you tune in! NBC Olympics will be broadcasting live!

http://www.nbcolympics.com/online-listings/sport=synchronized-swimming/index.html

We have one practice tonight and a practice with music tomorrow morning and then it's game time. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me throughout this experience. I've gotten an overwhelming amount of support from everyone at home and it's really great to hear all of the encouragement. I will try to update after our competition tomorrow but I might just go straight to bed because it's going to be a long day tomorrow. If anything, I will post on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks again to all of my supporters!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Games Day 9

We are back in London!! It feels so good to be back. Although Dublin was great, it's nice to be back in the Olympic hype. We had another 6 am flight, so this morning I was once again in a delirious half-asleep state. Cate's flight was later in the morning so we had to say bye to her when we left. Unfortunately she cannot stay in the village with us and is at a hotel close to the pool. I wish she could experience the village life with us...it's tough being the alternate because you go through all the same training as the duet but you don't get to go through the Olympics in the same way. Cate's been a trooper though and always staying positive and finding the good in everything. We will see her tomorrow though when we go to the University of East London's high performance center.

We got to the village around 10 am, had a short break and headed to the competition pool for music time. The morning session was short and went pretty well. Usually after traveling (and especially after not getting quality sleep) my body feels stiff and tired, but today it felt great! My back hasn't been too bad either (knock on wood) and the only thing that's bothering me is my adductor, but I am keeping it under control. During the morning practice I was having some equipment malfunctions. The strap on one of my ankle weights ripped the other day so I borrowed one of Cate's weights. Hers was in pretty bad condition though...the material on one side had holes in it so the small rocks inside were slowly falling out. When I was wearing the weight today I kept seeing the rocks fall to the bottom of the pool and scratch my ankle as we were practicing. It was kind of a struggle, but during our lunch break I got a sewing kit from the USOC and fixed my own pair. So it's all good for now! Let's hope they can last for the next few days.

Our second practice was in the practice pool. Again, we shared our music time with Canada. At the end when we were swimming through our free program the whole team cheered for us throughout our entire swim. It was so nice so have someone cheer us on. We aren't training with the team anymore, so we usually swim through in silence, which is fine, but hearing screams of encouragement definitely helps when you feel like you are going to pass out. Even though Canada is our competition, I like that they have good sportsmanship and can cheer us on.

After practice we got to meet with Holly for physical therapy. She made a trek from her hotel to work with us and I'm very thankful for that because she knows my body and my injury well and knows how to keep me in one piece. Plus she's great to talk to in general. Holly is the best :)

Ok that's it for today! Gotta catch up on some sleep now!

Until tomorrow,
MK

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Games Day 8

For the last few days Mary and I have been in Dublin, Ireland. We couldn't stay in London because we wouldn't have any pool time while swimming is competing. We were in Dublin in April before the Olympic Qualification so this time around we are pretty much locals! It's so nice being here. The people are so warm and welcoming everywhere we go. We met up with Caitlin Stewart, who is our replacement athlete and my good friend. I love having Cate here! She is such a breath of fresh air and always has a smile on her face. She is a great source of motivation for Mary and I and we can always count on her to crack a joke or push us through a tough practice.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see anything in Dublin other than the hotel and the pool. All of our time was spent either practicing or resting. Maybe one day I can come back and explore the city! The weather has been cloudy and rainy, but I actually really like it. And the sky is gorgeous here. I am building quite a collection of sky and sunset pictures on my iPhone so I got to add some from Dublin. We have the entire diving well to ourselves at the National Aquatic Center, which is a beautiful facility, and we can use the 50 meter pool as well. The training conditions couldn't be better! (and the pool temperature is great!) Our schedule has stayed pretty much the same - two water practices with a lunch break in between when we can see Holly (our physical therapist) or sneak in a quick nap. It's been kind of nice to go back to our training routine and get away from all of the excitement in London. We've been able to focus on our routines and make some improvements. I miss the village though! There's something special about the energy in that place.  I can't wait to go back!

During our down time Mary, Cate and I have been watching the Olympics on TV every night. We've watched A LOT of swimming and equestrian. We watched womens gymnastics win gold in the team event last night and Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympian! It's weird watching swimming events and knowing that we are going to compete in that pool in just a few days. We will definitely be competing in some golden water!

Yesterday we did an exhibition for the public at the NAC. We had a full crowd in the stands! It was pretty cool to see that many people who came just to watch us swim. When we were here with the team in April, our exhibition sold out! Although the crowd wasn't quite as big this time, it was still very impressive. Our swims went pretty well, but there is always room for improvement. I'm glad we did the exhibition because it gave Mary and I another chance to perform in front of a crowd and simulate the competition. Afterwards we signed autographs and took pictures. The people were so excited for us and we received a tremendous amount of support from the community. I feel like we have the whole country behind us as we go into competition, which is a cool feeling. I don't think we could have chosen a better place to train before we head to London and I am thankful for everything the Irish people have done for us.

Tomorrow we have an early flight to London and we will immediately head to the competition pool for music time. From now until the 5th we are going to have tunnel vision focus. Even though there are a lot of distractions in the village, Mary and I are going to keep our eyes on the prize. We've been making a lot of improvements in the last few days and hopefully we will continue getting better! Stay posted :)

-Mariya

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Games Day 3

OPENING CEREMONIES!!!

The Games are officially underway! The Opening was pretty spectacular. Well, not the actual show because we didn't really get to see any of it, but everything else was unbelievable. The entire U.S. delegation lined up in front of our building before we walked over the the stadium together. The walk was shorter than the one at the Pan American Games so my back and my legs were happy to not have to be on my feet for that long. We mingled for about an hour and I got to see my friends and take pictures. The NBA players were very popular during this time! Everyone wanted a picture with them and I got one with one of them except I don't know who he is... I have no idea what his name is or what team he plays for but I just wanted to say that I took a picture with one of the hotshots!

By the time we made it to the stadium I was getting pretty anxious and excited. Standing in the tunnel right before we walked out my heart was beating so fast! When we walked out, all I could see were blue lights in the audience. Those lights actually turned out to be part of the seats, but you couldn't see the people's heads in the dark so it was kind of confusing. Walking around the track I had the biggest smile on my face. Seeing all of my USA teammates in our Ralph Lauren outfits and feeling that Olympic buzz was such a high. After walking a lap we piled into the center of the stadium and mixed in with all the other athletes. We watched the rest of the ceremonies from there. I couldn't really see anything but I was really close when the runners ran around with the Olympic torch! That was pretty cool. At the end all of the different torches came together in the middle to form one giant torch and we were so close to it! I could even feel the heat from it radiating.

And then Paul McCartney came on. I think I almost had a heart attack. I love the Beatles! He sang Come Together and Hey Jude and I was so happy. People started to sing along and it was just unreal. I don't think it gets better than this. I am so thankful to be a part of this experience!

The next morning was pretty rough. We had to leave the village at 4 am to make our flight to Dublin and I was in a delirious half-asleep state and slept everywhere and anywhere. On the taxi ride, on the floor at the airport, on a bench at the airport, and on the place itself. Luckily we got to take a nap before practice because otherwise I might have fallen asleep in the pool. We are staying here for a few more days because we don't have pool time in London while swimming is competing. I already miss the village! The energy in that place definitely gives you a rush. The next time I will be there it will almost be time to compete! Mark your calendars, we are competing in tech duet on August 5.

Until next time,
MK

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympic Games Day 2

Oh man, the last 2 days have been so busy! Where to begin? We left Indy on the 24th and took off for London. On our flight over I got to fly in business class. My surgeon suggested that I upgrade because it would be easier on my back to be able to lie down in more comfortable chairs during the long flight. It was well worth it. I slept the whole flight, got great service and food and even a travel case with toiletries. Why don't we always fly business?? When we got to London we went through the accreditation process, dropped off our bags and headed straight for the competition pool for music time. Now, as much as I didn't want to jump in a pool after traveling for 12 hours, it actually felt good! We kicked out our legs and then got to go through our routines with music. There were only a few other countries there so it wasn't too crowded, which was nice.

Being back in the Aquatic Center felt really good. In April we were here for the Qualification Tournament so we kind of already knew the lay of the land. This time though, there are Olympic Rings everywhere, London 2012 logos, lots of lights and a lot more seating. The bleachers go up so high! I don't even think you could see the swimmers from up there! For some reason there is something very calming about this facility. Even with all the commotion, as soon as I jump in that pool I feel confident and strong and the routines seem to flow a little more. I can't wait to compete here again!

After practice we went to processing, where we got all of our Nike and Ralph Lauren outfitting. I knew we were going to get a lot of clothes but man, we got A LOT of clothes. Two suitcases and two full backpacks. It took us about two hours to try everything on and get our Opening Ceremonies outfits tailored. It was like Christmas! By the time we got done with everything it was past 9 pm and I was tired and hungry. I fell asleep while we were waiting for the bus and apparently there were people taking pictures of me and posing behind me. Cool guys... The rest of the night I was in a half-asleep, slightly hallucinating delirious state and all I wanted was a bed. When we got back to our rooms at the village I passed out immediately. Mary and I are rooming with two pentathletes who moved in today but we haven't seen them yet.

The village is gorgeous. It's very sleek and modern and the dining hall is huge! There is food from all over the world so there are many options. We haven't had any time to explore the rest of the village but I'n sure I will at some point. Mary and I each get our own room which is nice because we both like our space. The view from my room is breathtaking!

Today was another practice day. We went to the practice pool in the village (which has 3 Olympic sized pools, a synchro pool and a water polo pool) and then had another practice in the competition pool. After than I got some physical therapy done and a massage and now I'm just relaxing in my suite. So far London has been great but I feel like I haven't done much other than practice. That's ok though because I will have plenty of time to explore and do other things when we are done competing. Right now it's all abou preparation and recovery so we have to stay focused.

Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremonies! It's crazy that the Games are officially starting tomorrow. I think it's going to be cool to be with the whole U.S. delegation sporting our Ralph Lauren outfits and being one united team.

I will try to write every couple of days but if you want more updates and pictures, check out my Twitter page (https://twitter.com/mkoroleva) or follow me on Instagram (mkoroleva). I've been updating both pretty frequently.

Cheers,
Mariya