"Welcome to the family!"
Nobody actually says that to you after the big day, the day when you turn around and see your name in the "spot" that means you made it. You are now a member of TEAM USA. When you make the Olympic Team, your immediate emotional response is excitement, followed quickly by a huge sense of relief. No matter if you're a surprise and just plain shocked, or "expected" to make it, the realization in that first moment is priceless.
Let's take, for instance, 16-year-old swimmer Missy Franklin. She is "expected" to do great things….not just at Trials but at the Olympic Games themselves. But aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves… swimming fans are already wondering, "How many medals will Missy bring home?" And although I am sure she is focusing a bit on London (because let's face it, dreaming about those medals keeps you going sometimes), let me assure you, she is taking this process step by step, a day at a time. So when her races come between June 25-July 3 in Omaha, Neb., she's going to be striving for her moment to become part of the family. Olympic Trials are way more than just a swim meet. Really, the event is more pressure than the Games themselves. Trials are where you make the dream REAL…where you become a part of that exclusive club, not matter if it's for the first time or the fourth. Every swimmer dives into that water a competitor with a dream, and hopes to step out of the pool an Olympian.
It's a club that doesn't have a membership card, we bear our badges on our hearts. Wearing the letters, U-S-A , on our chest, head or back, we feel part of a truly remarkable family that carries the energy and support of every single person in this amazing country.
So as Olympic Trials of all sports, begin and end, I would like to welcome each new Olympian to the family and say "hello again" to those returning. We are so proud of you and wish you great memories!
"Once an Olympian, Always an Olympian. Never Former; Never Past." - U.S. Olympians Assoc. Motto