Oh, the Trials of Olympic Athletes

Every four years I feel this strange mix of horror and awe watching the Olympics. 

Last night I watched the trials for the U.S. men’s and women’s swimming and gymnastic teams and it had the same effect. 

Awestruck at the sight of such strength and agility and athletic ability –

Horrorified remembering my attempts at doing any of those events myself.

By attempts, I mean swimming lessons at the YWCA, and six weeks of gymnastics in seventh grade P.E.  That was the extent of my experience with Olympic sports, unless you want to count my badminton class in college.  

I loathe badminton. 

And I dreaded going to those swimming lessons almost as much as I dreaded going to the dentist when I was five years old.  To this day when I smell chlorine, I’m transported back in time, walking as slowly as I can to the car in my swimsuit, shivering underneath the beach towel wrapped around me, not from the cold but from fear that I’ll be the kid who falls off the edge of the pool and nearly drowns again today. 

Michael Phelps, competing in the swimming trials this week. This will be Michael’s fourth time to make the U.S. Olympic Team.

Somehow I doubt Michael Phelps ever felt like that. 

And gymnasts absolutely amaze me. 

Danell Leyva competes on the pommel horse at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials in San Jose, CA, this week.

Seventh grade P.E. was a nightmare in itself, but the six weeks session on gymnastics was my own personal 12 year old vision of Hell. 

One by one we lined up to run the length of the gym and catapult ourselves up and over the pommel horse. 

I never did make it over. 

I’d run down there as fast as I could, which admittedly wasn’t very fast, and then just when I got right in front of it, I’d stop cold every time. 

The only thing worse than the pommel horse was the balance beam.

Or those uneven parallel bars.  I managed to be sick on those days.

Maybe there’ll be a section of heaven where we get to do all the things we weren’t really good at doing during this lifetime.  Maybe there’ll be a big swimming pool with a high-rise diving board, and a huge gym where I’ll actually be able to do all of that. 

Or maybe I won’t care about doing any of that.

Maybe I’ll still enjoy watching the Olympics on TV.  On a much larger screen, of course.




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