By Katherine Keel//USA Swimming Communications Intern
As a youngster, the pool became my home away from home and I was as close to turning into a fish as one could be. I would splash around for eight hours a day during the summer while my parents were at work and swimming soon became my outlet for friends, fun and entertainment.
As I continued swimming and began competing at higher-level meets, my knowledge and love of the sport grew immensely, as did my adoration of elite swimmers on the National and Olympic teams. I idolized them, reading every article and envisioning myself in their shoes. What if I could meet these swimming legends one day?
After competing in my first Winter Nationals in 2007, the initial “wow” factor disappeared, as it soon became commonplace to swim alongside Olympians and National Team members. Though I wasn’t drooling over these Olympians anymore, I truly loved to swim and wanted to stay involved with the sport, even after I finished my college career at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Though I am no longer competing, I've found a way to stay involved, as I am currently interning with USA Swimming this fall.
As one of my projects, I worked extensively to help plan, promote and execute the 2012 Golden Goggle Awards. Oddly enough, I won the grand prize trip to the 2011 Golden Goggles, but was unable to attend. This year, I hoped to go to the event and experience the night that I’d read so much about.
At long last, my wish was granted.
The evening unfolded exactly as I imagined. Being an Olympic year, attendees were expected to adhere to the “black tie” dress code, which added to the glitz of the evening and made for an unforgettable experience. Well-dressed Olympians, coaches and other entertainment icons flooded the 8th floor, socializing and eating hors d’oeuvres while taking pictures on the red carpet.
The silent auction occurred in the next room and men in traditional London Guard outfits stood watch nearby, serving both as decoration and a prop for funny pictures.
Shortly after, attendees moved downstairs for the main event. Bob Costas settled the crowd and gave a brief introduction of what the night would entail. The evening progressed with a different set of presenters introducing each group of award nominees. Past Olympians such as Jenny Thompson and Donna de Varona presented, which allowed me to put faces with names whom I’d heard so much about.The presenters ranged from past Olympic swimmers to gold medal soccer star Alex Morgan. Illusionist David Blaine was on hand as well, impressing attendees with his tricks and mind-blowing illusions.
As the award winners gave their speeches, I had chills and couldn’t help but smile. After working throughout the fall to prepare and plan for Golden Goggles, it was unbelievably rewarding to witness the event unfold.
USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation’s Golden Goggle Awards will continue to inspire America’s swimmers of all ages and make a difference in the lives of millions across the country. I am very proud to say I was a part of it this year. Check out the photo gallery here.