Like a lot of women and moms, I love reading blogs that I can relate to. I have been inspired by many through the years and have had the great pleasure of knowing and/or getting to know many of the female bloggers I admire. Many of them have been encouraging me to write my own blog for quite some time. Upon their suggestion, I would smile, nod, and agree, then simply jump back in the pool. But with my recent re-retirement from swimming and the resulting free time, as well as the launch of my newly designed website, janetevans.com, I figured there was no time like the present!
So I guess I should start from the beginning…well sorta the beginning of this phase of my life: June 30th, 2012. My last day at Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. I had just swum the 800 meter freestyle in a ho-hum time and placed somewhere near the bottom of the field. While disappointed with my slow swimming, I also felt a combination of pride, happiness, and a touch of sadness.
The reasons for these emotions were many. In the summer of 2010, at the ripe old age of 39, I had decided to try to swim at the elite level once again – something I hadn't done since my last Olympic Games in 1996. My decision earned the full support of my family and mostly positive responses from my friends and fans. Sure, there were a few sour grapes out of there – even from former teammates – but I never let it bother me. After all, I was in this because I wanted to see what I could do as I approached the age of 40 – and I made it clear that qualifying to swim in Olympic Trials was my ultimate goal.
So for two years I hit the pool six hours a day. Under the guidance of my long-time coach Mark Schubert and some amazing teammates at GoldenWest Swim Club in Huntington Beach, CA, they were two of the most rewarding years of my life. I made new, fabulous friends who would have never otherwise come into my life. Many of those friends were the high schoolers I swam with day and night. I found them to be honest, hard-working, and loyal. I would often tell them that the qualities I saw in them were the qualities I wanted to instill in my two young children, Sydney and Jake.
What else happened in those two years? Well, I re-learned the value of hard work, of being tired but super proud of myself at the end of the day when I put my head on the pillow. I learned that there are good days and bad days, and that what you take from each of those days is what you make of them. Looking back, my bad days were usually the ones where I learned the most about myself. I learned not to shy away from a challenge, whether mental or physical. And the mental challenges are plenty in the sport of swimming. Just ask any swimmer what runs through their mind on a cold rainy Monday morning when the alarm clock goes off at 4:15 for morning practice and you'll understand.
I learned that us women can do it all – we can raise great kids, get them to school on time, take care of them in the middle of the night when they are sick, feed them healthy meals, play with them, love them, and still find time for ourselves and our husbands. Still find time to get up at 4:15 for a swim. Still find time to do what it is that makes you feel good about yourself, which puts you in a great mindset to accomplish your goals.
And beyond that, I learned that we can do the things that people say we cannot do. We can. Period. Whatever that may be. For me it was swimming again. And while it was challenging, tiring, and at times stressful – it was the best thing I have ever done for myself outside of marrying my husband and having my children. My confidence in myself has never been stronger because I know I can do anything I put my mind to…and with a smile on my face!
So for those reasons, last summer in Omaha was a very emotional time for me. I had reached my goal of swimming at Olympic Trials and was proud of myself. But like the end every journey, I wasn't sure what to expect next. It didn't take long to find out. The months since my retirement have been busy, like all of ours. New work opportunities and challenges have come along. Sydney started kindergarten. The days fly by. My husband teases me that we are busier now than we were when I was swimming. But it has been awesome – and I approach each day knowing that there is nothing I can't accomplish. That's what my comeback did for me.
So there's my first blog! Although I won't be able to post about my most recent swim practice (unless I get a wild streak and decide to join my local masters team!) I am hoping that my experiences as a mom, woman, wife, and athlete can open up forums for us to encourage and inspire each other. In the meantime, get out there and do what they say can't be done!