Michael Phelps and Dara Torres are great stories, but let's appreciate how difficult it can be for the athletes who don't get to be called Olympic champions. Over at the Bruins in Beijing blog, UCLA senior Nicolette Teo posts what it feels like to prepare so hard then to not perform up to her personal standard. Beijing is her third Olympics representing Singapore, and she arrived full of excitement — even if she skipped the opening ceremony to get her sleep. She will leave confused about her future and rethinking her identity.
I know some may think I am being overly dramatic by saying that I am totally heartbroken over my swims, but one would have to understand where I am coming from. When you have spent the past year putting your heart, soul and absolutely everything you have into your preparation, failing to attain your goals is devastating. I can honestly say that I have never been more prepared for any meet in my entire swimming career, nor have I trained as hard or as well as I have in the past year. Going into these Games I knew I had done everything I could to put myself in a position to swim fast. The people who surrounded me and have watched me train for these Olympics were constantly telling me that it was my time to shine....
Unfortunately, things did not work out the way I planned. My 100 breast swim really shook me to my core and I don't think I really recovered mentally and emotionally in time for my 200 breast. It would be easy to blame my 100 breast swim on my cap and suit malfunctions but it was so much more than that.
Before Beijing, I was focused solely on swimming and that was it. It was all I had. In addition, I equated my entire self worth to my success in the pool. You would think I would have figured it out by now that what makes me special is not how I perform in the pool but is measured by the people who I love and who love me...
Right now, I am at the point in my career where I am done with college swimming, (therefore, once I graduate, my scholarship from UCLA will be terminated) and I do not know if I will be able to get the support and funding from Singapore that I need to continue swimming. I hate the thought that money could be the reason I retire but it is a fact of life. However, right now the main thing on my mind is do I want to keep swimming?
I have been swimming competitively for 15 years of my life and while the thought of having time to do whatever I desire excites me, I am also deathly afraid. What will I do without swimming? Who will I be?
Despite her funk, Teo is proud of the performance of the other young Singapore swimmers.