Kirsty Coventry Interview with correspondent Kent Sanderson from Athens Greece

Q.  What does this mean to you as an Auburn swimmer winning an Olympic medal?

"I am very proud to have won the silver medal. I have improved as a swimmer because of the training environment at Auburn, practicing with some of the world's best swimmers."

Q.  What were you thinking about prior to your swim tonight?

"Looking around the ready-room just before my swim, I saw the same faces I raced against in the NCAA's championships. This familiarity calmed my nerves so I could have the race I did. I was not overwhelmed by the Olympics mystic."

Q.  Who would you like to thank for tonight's performance?

"First, I would like to thank my parents, my Auburn coaching staff, all of my Auburn team mates here in Athens surrounding me, finally, the Auburn and Zimbabwe friends and family supporting me here."


On a personal note, there may not be that many swimming world records broken in these Athens Olympics due to the conditions. The last two days, the wind has been howling across the pool's surface causing a rippling effect. I suppose the failure to complete the roof is having an effect on the athletes.

When I asked Kirsty about this, she said "that she was used to swimming outdoors in Zimbabwe before coming over to Alabama to swim for Auburn and so she was not concerned about the open roof."

Kirsty Coventry's Olympic Diary  (August 15, 2004)

Well the meet is underway! Yesterday I went to the pool in the late morning to get my practice in and watch Mark's (Gangloff) swim. Oh, it was so exciting. He looked great, really relaxed and confident. He swam such an awesome swim and it was exactly what I needed to get me excited about my upcoming race.

He gave us such a great smile when he got out of the pool - I knew the Auburn swim fast momentum had started rolling! After my workout, we headed back to the Village to relax for the rest of the day. I used that time to mentally and physically prepare for my swim this morning.

The physical part included shaving!!! That is what us swimmers always look forward to - especially the girls! It is different to shave without my teammates around so Kim (Brackin) kept me company and shaved too... just her legs though, no arms!

I went for a quick dip in the recreational pool in the Village because I don't like to feel that "shaved" feeling right before I race... I need a little time to get used to it.

At night we gathered around the TV to watch the meet. It was important for me to stay back and keep cool and rested, especially since I had gone to Opening Ceremonies the night before. It was really exciting to watch Michael Phelps break the world record in the 400 IM - swims like that inspire me!

The women's 400 IM was so close I thought the American, Kaitlyn Sandeno, would get the gold but she just missed! Of course, my favorite race of the night was Mark's. He was in a great heat and we had to look at the board to figure out how he finished... a 3-way tie in his heat which placed all of them tied for 4th.

I think it is a great position for him; he will race hard to get a medal and racing hard is what we are all trained to do at Auburn. I can't wait to watch him swim tonight.

This morning I woke up at 6:45, headed to breakfast with my Zim teammate Brendan Ashby. Brendan swam the 100 back today too. He has been so much fun to have around. He makes me laugh all the time. Brendan swims for Alabama so I get to see him a few times during the year when we are at home in the States.

I felt good this morning but was still very nervous. I am always nervous before my first race because you just don't know what to expect. I just wanted a best time and to make it back to semi's. All my Auburn folks were doing their best to keep me having fun and confident; I am so lucky to have them here.

I did my pace work, put my suit on and headed down to the ready room. That is where all the athletes racing that event wait for their heat. I was still a bit nervous but I had a nice conversation with one of my top competitors, Natalie Coughlin, and that helped take my mind off the race. She asked me all about Zimbabwe and my family; I love to tell people about where I am from.

The next thing I knew my heat was up. It all went very quickly.

In the morning they do not introduce each competitor by name, we just get into the pool, so I didn't have much time to look around. I did hear someone cheer for me as it got quiet right before the start - probably Miss Diane and Cathy Sursi! I felt very good the first 50 - really smooth. I started to make a move during the second 50 and began to feel the pain a little. It was so great to look at the scoreboard and see 1:01.6! It is my best time and a new African Record.

I knew I was capable of that time, but again, it is just nerve-wracking until you get that first swim out of you. Kim and David (Marsh) told me the race looked good, "very controlled", and gave me pointers on how to be faster tonight.

I know I can be better and my goal is to keep that Auburn swim fast momentum continuing to roll!

Unfortunately, my teammate Brendan didn't have such a great swim for him. This was his first Olympics and maybe his nerves got to him a bit. He has had so much fun enjoying the experience though; he has about 6 hours of video footage of the Opening Ceremonies if anyone wants to see it!

Now he'll become a cheerleader for me and his Bama teammates. I will admit, he has been doing some great cheering for the Auburn swimmers too!

Tonight it will be awesome to watch George (Bovell) in the 200 Free semi's, Mark in the Breaststroke finals and the Frenchies (Romy Barnier and Fred Bousquet ) on their relay. Please keep supporting us from home, we can feel your Auburn Pride all the way over here in Athens! War Eagle!!!

Kirsty (August 14, 2004)

What can I say... it (the opening ceremonies) was spectacular! Originally, I had planned to sit in the stands and watch the ceremonies but we did not have many tickets to allow us to do that so I had to decide whether to go or not to go... I decided I wanted to march!

It was a lot of fun and I am so glad that I did. We got dressed in our uniforms which were my khaki pants - my new one's, not the men's size 36! We also wore a black shirt with traditional Zimbabwe prints down the front and my "favorite" colorful Zimbabwe baseball cap.

We loaded buses and were taken to the gymnastics venue to wait for our entrance into the stadium. That time was lots of fun because between sitting and resting my legs we went on little walks to see my teammates. We saw Eileen and Dave Durden looking very smart in skirts/trousers and blazers. As I said, Eilleen was the flag bearer so she was very excited to be there! Then we went up to the USA section to look for Margaret.

While we were there we saw all the basketball players. Lebron James was the most popular and Kim traded a pin with Amare Stoudemire. Margaret was as calm as she could be; she was just relaxing and soaking it all up. We also saw Cesaer who was having a blast trading pins.

We lined up two countries behind Estonia, Jana's team, and two countries in front of the USA! They used the Greek alphabet this year so instead of being next to last we were closer to the front. Walking into the stadium was so great. The crowd was really lively and it was absolutely huge!

I saw a few Zim supporters in the stands waving our flag. We took one lap around on the track and then one more inside. Then Kim made me sit! It was great to see Eileen's big smile on the huge screen as she walked in for Panama! She looked so proud and pretty too!

We listened to the speeches from the organizers and then the Olympic Flag was raised. Of course the most spectacular part was to come. Above us in the air people came "running" in with fake torches; I think they were to symbolize past torch lighting ceremonies. They looked awesome.

Then the actual torch came in. The night before it had been lighting up the Acropolis. Former Greek Olympians ran the torch around the stadium and then up a set of stairs where a GIANT torch was lowered to be lit by the flame. It was incredible! Then there were millions of fireworks!

It was all very amazing and I was so glad we went to experience it. Luckily, I was shocked at how quickly we got out of there and back home - I was in bed by 1a.m. This morning I slept in and now I am off to the pool to catch Mark's swim. Unfortunately, I will miss Jeremy's 400 IM but I know he will make us proud!

Tomorrow is the start for me and I can't wait to get in that water. I feel a bit nervous, but as Maggie has told me before... "That's good, nervous is good!" I am just going to go do exactly what I have trained to do! War Eagle!!!

Kirsty (August 13, 2004)

Today the Opening Ceremonies mark the official opening of the Games... I am so excited! Everyone always wonders how the torch will be lit and what type of entertainment there will be. Normally, Zimbabwe is the last country before the host, but this year the Greeks are following the Greek alphabet and Z is the 6th letter. We should be about 56th in line.

I am not sure yet whether I will march or watch from the stands; it is very tiring to march and I swim on Sunday. I marched in Sydney and it was a great experience. Most of my Auburn teammates have elected not to go in order to save their legs!

The officials predict it will be 6-7 hours of standing, sitting and marching! Eileen will be there though because she is the flag bearer for Panama! All of the Auburn kids are here now and we have so much fun together at the pool and especially at the cafeteria! We watch each other do our fast work during training and it inspires confidence in ourselves.

Mark Gangloff swims the 100 Breaststroke tomorrow morning. I have scheduled my workout time to get there just before he swims so I can see him blaze down the pool! Yesterday I had to go to an asthma clinic to get my asthma "verified" to make sure it was legal for me to take my medicine. It was quite a hard test but I "passed" with flying colors... which means yes, I have asthma and need my medicine.

It is good that they are testing us though to make sure the Games are fair.

After my test we went and bought new pants for my Opening Ceremonies uniform; they gave us size 36 men! It was fun to get out of the Village and see a bit of Athens. I look forward to seeing more when I am finished competing. I hope you all enjoy watching the Ceremonies on TV.

I will try to describe it to you all later as best as I can! War Eagle!!!

Kirsty (August 10, 2004)

Hi this is Kirsty coming straight to you from Athens. I am going to be a senior this year at Auburn, but I am from Zimbabwe. I will be competing in my second Olympic games in swimming. I am racing the 100 and 200-meter backstroke, and the 200 IM.

I am excited to keep my Auburn family updated on my, and my Auburn teammates, experiences at the 2004 Olympics. The village is great! Everything is laid out very well and easy to get around with all the buses.

It is so neat to see all the flags of so many different nations. Cuba even has a three story flag with a picture of Fidel Castro! The Aussies have palm trees, grills and plasma TV's to watch rugby on. The Americans aren't here in force, but I am sure they will have something special too! We have a flat with two large Zimbabwe flags hanging off our balconies.

Our staff is great and they are taking good care of us all. This morning we had the official welcoming into the Olympic Village by the Mayor. It was very nice - they welcomed our Federation and our Chef de Mission and raised the Zimbabwe flag while playing our anthem.

Thailand, Syria and Great Britain were also welcomed at the same ceremony. So far I have seen lots of my Auburn teammates: George (Bovell) was the first, then Eileen (Coparropa) and Dave Durden, Jana (Kolukanova) and Brett Hawke. I can't wait to see Margaret (Hoelzer), Bryce (Hunt), Mark (Gangloff) and Caesar (Garcia) !!!!

I believe they get to the Village today with the French team, so hopefully we'll get to see Freddy Biscuits and Romy too. I had this morning off from training and will go down to the competition pool at 5 this afternoon to do some pace work. that means competition is getting close!

The competition pool is great! The stands feel like they are right on top of the pool, which will be great energy for when we are racing. There are two warm up pools right next to it, as well as the synchronized swimming/diving and water polo pools.

The synchro/diving facility is cool because the stands circle the pool. I hope Caesar likes it! Well, I am about to get a rub from our Physio, Dorkas. Like I said, they are taking great care of us! War Eagle!!!