I just got back from closing ceremonies. It was great to be in the bird's nest one more time with my team-mates, what's left of the US delegation, and all the other athletes here in Beijing. It was like we could all come together for one last time before we go our separate ways.
As I walked out of the stadium towards the buses that took us back to the village, I realized the whole journey has been a crazy mix of emotions--right up until the last day. When I first made the training squad, way back in December 2006, I was so excited. I didn't think this dream could possibly be true. But at the same time, I knew that two people from the squad would be cut to form the final Olympic team, and I knew I had a lot of work to do to make sure I kept a spot. And then when I made the team in April, I was so happy and so sad at the same time. Then there's the highs and the lows of practice every day. The joys of really improving and the frustrations of staying in one spot.
Fast forward to training here in Beijing and in Korea, and we had some of our best swims and knew we were working really hard for our goals, but at the same time we were ready to get out there and compete instead of just practice. Our competition swims were just as packed with emotion. We had so much pride in our swims and were thrilled to have our best swims at exactly the right time. But I also wish that the results could have ended differently. The closing ceremonies were exciting and fun, but also sad--the 2008 Olympics, the event I and my team-mates have been dreaming about for so very long, had reached their end.
Now tonight as I write the end of my Olympic Experience, I'm realizing that every huge investment you make in your life is this crazy combination of emotions. And that's what makes them real and worth it. The highs wouldn't be quite as high without the lows, and vice versa.
Finally, I know that such investments require the support of a nation, even of a world--thank you!! I am forever grateful that I had this opportunity to represent the greatest nation at these games. I am likewise so thankful for your comments, your emails, your phone calls, and your cards; you don't even realize how much you have been part of my journey! Erick, Jennie, and David, words cannot possibly express how much your love means to me and how much it has been the reason for what I do. And finally, mom and dad, I love you so much and I am so proud to be everything you've taught me to be! Being an Olympian is such an honor, and I am so glad you could share this journey with me!