Sunday, February 28, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Uh, well, if you follow football legends, then you will know that this is Carl Banks. He judged our videos we made. Pretty cool.
New York Giants...literally.
One of the many classy touches that TIMEX corporate did for us. Too cool.
This is the locker room where our names were in place of the New York Giants' names. I was down a bit from Eli Manning's, but mainly because I wanted to give him a little room. I tend to spread my stuff out a bit.
The TIMEX Performance Center where the New York Giants train. There were dumbells that were 150 lbs. We watched some of the guys doing some high rep sets with 325lbs on the bar...ya, I could do that, if I wanted to.
This is actually an underwater treadmill with jets. Kind of like an endless pool, and could be used similarly but you can also run on it too.
VO2 Max Testing. Ya, it hurt, but a nice gift. There is a guy on the team with a VO2 max of 85. Can't tell you who though.
The indoor practice field...full sized and all that fancy rubber composite grass. We played a few football games on it. You want to see something funny? Watch successful triathletes play football. There are really no winners...just a lot of funny pictures.
It looks like a normal hot dog. But it's not. It's a New York Hot Dog...totally different.
Though I never have really followed football before, I am now a New York Giants fan.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
It was after that that our paths, or lanes, crossed a little closer as Rory would often join our Master swim group at 5:30am at the Whitworth pool. Rory would not swim with us, he would simply use the lane next to us... more importantly, next to me. It was very humbling to see a swimmmer doing a breaststroke kick cool down set faster than I could swim an all out 50 freestyle. It was kind of like snorkeling in the ocean and watching the fish dance around you. And I think from time to time Rory would look at me, like the fish do, and wonder what the heck I was doing in the water. I really enjoy watching great swimmers swim, and Rory was definitely one of them. He was all business in the pool with his coach standing with a stopwatch at the end of the lane. It wasn't until a bit later when I learned that Rory was a normal person. Well, simply had something in common with me at least. It was one morning when he stood on the bulk head and did not want to jump in to the water because it was cold. I have that experience every time I get in the pool, or hot tub. I hate the dramatic change in the temperature.
After that, Rory seemed to loosen up a bit towards the "Master Hacks," I mean "swimmers," and actually coached the group from time to time. As a coach, he was/is phenomenal. No doubt about that. There is no question that his coaching style is not for everyone, but if you want honesty, progression, and a no excuse attitude, look no further. If you came to swim when he was coaching, in his mind, you came to swim to get better and faster. That means lots of hard work.
It was also during this time that Emma's coach, Luke (who now coaches some of us on Sundays) moved on to a different pool. Taking his place was Rory. I was pretty excited about this because I knew what a phenomenal swimmer he was AND he was from a foreign country. And we all know that the further away someone comes from, the better they are as a coach (sarcasm). Emma was initially afraid of Rory because he was a little more "strict" and "down to business." Being in kindergarden, Emma took everything he said literally. Like the time that he said that if they stop kicking again, he was going to throw his shoe at them. That directly translated to, 'If I do this wrong, I will get hit in the head with his big shoe.' She told her friend Brynn, that started swimming shortly after that, that she needed to be very carful around him. I loved this! For some reason Emma never really grapsed the "R" in Rory. And always called him Glory...and still does, as do we. It wasn't that much longer before Emma was doing impersinations of Rory, and his South African (somewhat Australian/British/New Zealand) accent. She does a pretty good job.
I am sure Emma is talkin' trash here
Over the year, we have got to know Rory, his girlfriend Carla, and brother Damon quite well. They even joined us for Thanksgiving this year. All of them are really great people.
Hanging out at my birthday party (Jessi, Tiffany, Glory)
Carla, Glory, and Damon
Rory Buck lost something that once had been an integral part of his life. He traveled halfway around the world to get it back.
After spending much of his life competing in swimming venues around the African continent, Buck now is a sophomore at Whitworth and a big part of the Pirates’ hunt for an eighth consecutive Northwest Conference championship.
The Whitworth men, who have rolled up 71 consecutive NWC dual-meet victories, can build on their dynasty at the Northwest Conference championships Friday through Sunday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. The Pirates women are attempting to dethrone defending champion Puget Sound.
Buck’s time of 2 minutes, 3.1 seconds in the 200-yard breaststroke ranks as the fastest time nationally in NCAA Division III this year. Coincidentally, he posted that time in Federal Way in December at the same site as this weekend’s events. Buck also is the favorite in the 100 breaststroke, where his top time of 57.34 is an NWC-best and ranks 10th nationally.
Those are considerable feats for someone who mulled whether he wanted to continue his swimming career at all just 2 years ago.
Born in South Africa, Buck was 9 when his parents moved their family to Malawi, a narrow, landlocked country in southeastern Africa still finding its way in the world after seizing independence from British rule in 1964. A country of 15 million inhabitants, Malawi suffers from an elevated infant mortality rate (89 deaths per 1,000 live births) and low life expectancy (50 years). Like much of Africa, the underdeveloped nation is plagued by widespread HIV/AIDS.
“Malawi is run by agriculture,” Buck said. “Coffee, tobacco and tea drive the country. The two big cities (Blantyre and Lilongwe) are developing pretty quickly. That’s why my father moved there. He works for a construction company.
“Shopping centers, banks – they’re coming up. But Malawi is still very reliant on the agriculture sector. The agriculture sector is not the same as it is here. They’re very dependent on the weather and the amount of rain they get.”
It would be unlikely he could duplicate his experiences in this country, too.
“What Malawi has going for it I’ll be forever grateful,” Buck said. “It’s a very transient society and multicultural society. We had 52 nationalities represented at my high school. … To this day there are no movie theaters, no bowling alleys. What you rely on for entertainment is the people. People are what make the country. The people is what I miss the most.”
Buck graduated from St. Andrews International School in Blantyre, and his family uprooted and moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf. Dubai and Malawi share little in common, Buck said.
“Dubai is like Vegas on steroids,” he said of the city – home to the world’s tallest skyscraper and a number of other architectural achievements. “The downside to Dubai is there is more of a focus on you. People are there to make money, and they want to live that lifestyle. … It’s difficult to find good social circles in Dubai.”
Buck returned to South Africa with his goals set on earning a roster spot on that country’s Olympic team for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. It also required another cultural adjustment. Black Africans compose nearly 80 percent of the country’s 50 million residents, but South Africa still contends with racism and discrimination issues even after the rule of Nelson Mandela ended more than 10 years ago.
“Once people my age get into power, things will start to change again,” Buck said. “They still don’t have the influence of a Nelson Mandela or a leader like that. As 22-, 23-year-olds get into those positions (of influence), you’ll see the ball start rolling faster.”
Buck, who also excels in swimming’s freestyle sprints, began working on his Olympic bid after graduating high school. He reconnected with a former coach running an Olympic developmental program in South Africa. Then, in 2006, his career was derailed by a serious groin injury.
“I went through two surgeries on my groin region,” Buck said, attributing the injury to too much training. “It took 13 months to recover. … I went to the (Olympic trials) in 2008, but it didn’t go quite as planned. I finished 21st in the 200 breaststroke, if I remember right.”
Buck, then 22, faced a choice of reloading for another run at the 2012 Summer Olympics or finding an alternative plan.
“I wanted to reassess everything,” he said. “When you’ve been bitten by the Olympic bug, it never goes away. But another thought that came to me was that I’d be 26 and not have a degree. I just thought, ‘If something happens, what do I do?’ ”
Buck’s brother, Damon, ultimately offered a solution. Buck’s mother, Alison, was a foreign exchange student in high school living with extended family in Salem, Ore. The Buck family made several trips to the United States over the years to visit relatives.
Damon visited Whitworth during one of those vacations and determined it was where he wanted to earn his college degree.
Damon’s older brother was not far behind.
“Swimming became kind of a job, and I wasn’t enjoying it,” Buck said. “I was in the pool from 5 to 7:30 every morning and from 3 to 8:30 every night. It started getting a little overwhelming, and I started to lose my love for the sport a little bit. After the (Olympic) trials, I decided I wanted to go back and study. I always wanted to study in the U.S.”
Buck found an ideal situation at Whitworth, which satisfied his educational pursuits in kinesiology and business management. The Pirates’ successful swimming program, meanwhile, rekindled his competitive fire.
“It all fit perfectly,” he said. “You’re swimming in a competitive environment, but at Division III, where you can be competitive but still take the edge off. You’re not competing for money. Your school work has as much emphasis as your swim work. That really appealed to me.”
Whitworth assistant coach Gary Kessie acknowledged Buck wasn’t a typical freshman. He was 22 and more developed physically and emotionally, Kessie said. Buck’s swimming – and life – experiences internationally shaped him inside and outside the pool.
“There was a little more maturity, leadership,” Kessie said. “He was a take-charge leader from the get-go, and that’s nice to have from an underclassman. A lot of it is his talent level, and others look up to that. He has experience at the international level and competed at a big-time level. He’s been there, he knows what to do and what’s expected.”
Buck still has work to do in the pool, though. Races in America are distanced by yards, not meters. He also is adjusting to short-course swimming, where the pool length (25 yards) is half that of Olympic pools. Instead of making one turn in a 100-meter race, short-course swimmers make three. Keeping his strokes in rhythm and transitioning through the turns are works in progress, Buck said.
Kessie said Buck’s physical tools help him compensate for any technical shortcomings, however.
“He’s built like a swimmer – big, tall and bulky but with lean muscle,” Kessie said. “He’s knowledgeable about what to do with his body. He’s a very good student.”
Buck wasn’t sure if he consciously embraced a leadership role, but he agreed it came naturally. His lifelong experience dealing with people of myriad backgrounds has served him well.
“There are cultural differences, sure, from where I’ve been,” Buck said. “When you’re in the pool, you’re doing your job and working hard. That’s the same whether you’re here, in Dubai or in South Africa. Anybody who puts in hard work gets respect. People are still people, whether or not their cultures are different.”
Friday, February 05, 2010
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Available at many specialty sports and sporting goods stores in September 2010.
This is a video I took of Emma on Thursday night. She did not go to swim practice because she wanted to take Steve, a good friend of Jessi and mine, out to a movie for his birthday. I know this was more of a gift to Emma, but she wanted to do this for him on his birthday since he took her out for an adventure for her's.
Often we have people come over a ride their trainers in our basement...otherwise know as the sweat lodge. And from time to time, Emma will join in. She actually puts in a solid effort. It's not like, get on your bike and pretend. She does a lot of the workout including the fast pedals (which are quite easy for her since her wheel does not hit the drum that creates the resistance) and the one legged drills. Then she sets her towel, her gels, and her water bottle on the bike...just like everyone else. Occasionally you will see her with her iPod on, but she likes the television more. She loves her Felt road bike. Again, a big thank you to Robin at Fitness Fanatics for getting her all hooked up.
I know that Emma does not get this from me since I have only been on the trainer once this winter. It's all the great role models she has in her life, and ours. We feel so fortunate that she looks up to some pretty amazing people and models all their great habits. What if every child had this?
So where does Emma's motivation come from? I am not too sure really. But I don't think that there is any "motivation" involved here. This is status quo for Emma. When people come over to ride in the basement, so does she. When in Rome...
We are so proud of this little girl.