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The Sunday

The day of truth, whether Nick and Bill qualify for the Olympic Games. I got to watch the race with the members of the swim club. I don't think they read this blog, but thank you so much for letting me experience it with you, because I'm getting goosebumps thinking about it as I write this. So I'll take you with me and describe the afternoon with my friends from the group.

We met at 12.30 pm at someone's house in a large room. At 1.00pm there was the review of the Australian Championships on TV. I saw again how Tom won the three titles over 10km, 5km and in the relay, all in open water of course. Kilian finished 4th in the elite race and was also Australian champion in the relay race with Tom. Nolan became the Australian champion over 5 km in the 18-19 year old age group. But that wasn't all, the girls also won medals. Noosa was honoured as the best club. It was so nice to see how happy everyone was about the success of the others. I'm talking about competitors and best friends at the same time. It's not about winning the next football tournament. No, it's about 2028 LA or 2032 Brisbane, I'm talking about the next Olympic Games, which are being fought for. Why don't you say at your next job interview what you want to be in 5 years, something big that seems unattainable for you. We don't know if anyone will make it, but believe me, I and everyone around me believe in the squad. I also know that some will fall by the wayside. But I believe that we will all become something, because everyone has a fire in them and a passion. My fire has been rekindled since Sunday for the next races. So we can look forward to what lies ahead.

The afternoon

After the recap, we go to the beach and surf a few waves. We jump into the water like little kids, dive under the waves and swim out again. Then we have to wait and avoid the jellyfish. I think I've avoided them because I can't feel if I've been hit by one. When the wave comes, it's all a question of timing. As always, you have to be patient, paddle at the right moment and enjoy the ride to the beach. I got a good wash every now and then and it really was like being in a washing machine. As they say, if you try harder than everyone else, you'll succeed. Back on the beach, the lifeguard came up to us and told us that there was another shark out there. Here too, the calmer you react, the better it is. But the reaction of the Australians is even more impressive. It's like when we see a cow in the pasture. After surfing, the Australians start the BBQ, which is a proper barbecue. So we had a burger, a few pies and far too many snacks.

The race

Just in time for the start of the race, we all sat in front of the TV, the athletes in the back on the sofa and the coaches in the front in the best position. What do you need to know about the race? It's the World Swimming Championships over 10 kilometres in the sea. The race takes place in Doha, where all the swimming world championships are now held. The 10km race is also the qualifying race for the Olympic Games in Paris this summer. I have to admit that I don't know all the qualifying criteria. But I do know that Nick has to finish in the top 13 and Bill too. You have to realise that Bill has had a difficult time. He was ill for a while and could only train on a limited basis. He showed a really strong race in Doha and is happy with his performance. Now to Nick. Nick is a very quiet guy, smaller than the other swimmers and his back is only half as ready as the others. But he's a real beast when it comes to his mental strength. He swims times where you can't stand at the side of the pool to follow him. He was at the front of the leading group for the whole race. He hid very cleverly in the field and then attacked on the last lap, about 1.25 kilometres before the finish. There were still eight athletes left for the medal positions. But 300 metres before the finish he was caught and then two more of the guys pulled away. Now everything is in between 3rd and 8th place, that's good, the ticket is safe, but Nick isn't flying to Doha to play it safe, he wants more. So six people sprint towards the finish line. Unbelievable, you can't see who was first, it was so close. So it was a photo finish and in the end he was rewarded with 5th place and is now officially in the OLYMPIAN Club. Paris 2024 here we go.

The coaches

Okay, I got tears in my eyes again when I saw how JR reacted. You have to know that it's the biggest honour for me to be here because I didn't grow up as a swimmer. I taught myself and to me JR is one person I will NEVER forget in my life. Let's call him the swimming pope 😉. JR was very quiet the whole race, watching everything Nick did and then 500m before the finish line, all you could hear was him cheering Nick on and at that moment I was just looking at him. I saw him start to cry and he was just so proud that Nick was going to Paris. It has to be said that JR has been training him since he was 14 and now he's 25, they have a special relationship. To Kareena, she was at the Olympics herself and she was so nervous she could hardly stand it as they swam towards the finish line and she was screaming like everyone else in the room. I filmed the last ten minutes of the race and placed the camera right at the front. The joy was so great and the energy in the room so infectious. It was another experience I won't forget for the rest of my life. I saw how the pressure was lifted from our faces, people standing at the side of the pool every day, cheering us on in the tough series. Giving daily tips on what I can do even better.

So a very special experience is coming to an end for me and I'm thinking about my dreams. I can only thank you readers. Think about the goal you have achieved and what it triggers in you.

See you out there


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