You’d have thought it was a 3-2 count, two outs, bottom of the ninth, Game 7, the way people ran into the dining hall last night.
Nope. Not the Series. Not the Finals. Not the Super Bowl. The US Olympic Trials.
With coverage of the Waldo Canyon Fire here in the Springs, NBC pushed coverage of the swimming trials to an hour later, so, unfortunately, I was getting live alerts from ESPN on my phone as soon as the races had ended, before we had actually seen them on television. Even knowing the results, it was exciting, knowing the race everyone in the country was waiting for, the 400 IM, was about to go down.
The Athletes’ Center chose last night during dinner to clean the carpets in the great room, so we were all cramped in a smaller part of the dining hall around a single flat screen television, instead of our typical three. When the extra hour of interrupting fire coverage had ended, there was no delaying the race we’d been waiting for. About 50 meters into the race, a few swimmers sprinted from the pool in the adjacent building to the dining hall, not about to miss Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte’s showdown. Connor came in at the 100m mark and was stunned by the crowd gathered around the television and started taking pictures. Calli and Bryce made bets on the race. Courtnee and Bri talked about Michael’s intensity. Kelly, Jon, and I just took it all in. Everyone was watching intently, though most of us, by that point, knew the outcome, cheering, clapping, and nervously watching the two swim length for length until Lochte pulled away with it.
Sure. It was the Trials. I get that. It was one race out of the many they’ll be swimming this week in Omaha. But we weren’t just watching it anywhere. We were watching it at the US Olympic Training Center. Wrestlers, fencers, swimmers, shooters, developmentals, hopefuls, qualifiers, Paralympians, Olympians–it didn’t matter. They were all there, watching their fellow resident athletes. We’ve lived with these guys and eaten with these guys, and now, we’re watching them on television do their job. Trials go on until July 8th, so I have a feeling it’ll be like that most nights.
Last night was one of those moments that I’ve had every-so-often since I’ve moved here, and it hits you. Where we are, what we’re a part of, and what we’ll be watching in 31 days. It’s enough to give you the goosebumps, and it’s an awesome feeling.