August 19, 2004
My name is Jeremy Knowles and I am a post graduate swimmer for the Auburn Tigers. I just finished my senior year where I co-lead the team along with the other captains, Mark Gangloff and Bryce Hunt, to the greatest NCAA victory in history breaking the all time score record. I have just finished competing in the Olympic Games here is Athens and I thought I would share some of my experiences with the rest of the Auburn family.
First of all I would like to aknowlege the rest of our great swimmers (and diver!) that are representing both their countries and of course Auburn here at the games. To Kirsty, Fred, Romy, Bryce, Mark, Marge, Ceasar, George, Brett, Eileen, Jana, and Matt, congrats. Wow, that is thirteen athletes including myself! WAR EAGLE! My heart also goes out to Nicholas Bovell who made the team but had to stay at home due to a bad ear ache. Stay strong man, your time will come.
For my first entry, I will take you through the three events that I competed in and share with you the emotion, heart ache, and resoration that I experienced. I competed in the 400 Individual Medley, the 200 Butterfly, and the 200 Individual Medley respectfully. Each one with a day rest in between. I had some fairly strong swims missing my personal best times by 1 second here and 1 tenth of a second there but unfortunately was unable to advance to the next round in all three of my races. As swimmers may put it, I had three good morning swims. Honestly, considering my goals of advancing, the time, energy, and sacrifices put into this meet, I was dissapointed. In fact I was angry. Here I was at the biggest meet in the world and my times weren't up to par. What do you do? What do you say? Who do you turn to? For me, being a Christian, I turned to Jesus. Does that mean that I was able to just forget about the dissapointment and say it doesn't bother me because it must have been God's will? No, of course not. God wants us to be honest with him and that is what I was. I told him how I felt. I felt no sense of accomplishment. I felt like I wasted the last year of hard training. I felt discouraged. Well God also wants us to remember his promises. He reminded me that as a Christian I am competing in the sport of swimming for his glory and for an eternal prize (1 Corinthians 9:23-25). He also reminded me that he is always there to guide and counsel me no matter what (Psalm 73:22-24). Thanks to our gracious God, my 'ausome' Auburn family, my relatives, a village Chaplain named Ashley Null, and my girlfriend, Heather Hulgan, I was able to come away from this meet with closure. Thanks. I may not have advanced in my world ranking, but I matured in the sport, and in my life. A lot of times I think an athlete's character can be best judged at his or her lowest point. well this was on of my lowest points, and my character remains strong, humble, and hungry for more.
I am off to the pool to cheer on the rest of the Auburn athletes that are still competing. until next time, God bless and WAR EAGLE!
August 20th, 2004
Well, I would have to say that the talk of the morning was George's 'Ausome' swim last night in the 200 Individual Medley. Here is the run down: George went into the final seeded fifth and swimming out of lane two. He had a tremendous amount of pressure on him as he attempted to become Trinidad and Tobago's first swimmer to stand on the medal podium at the Olympics. He had a solid butterfly leg touching sixth at the first wall, continuing to swim his own race swimming a fast, but not too fast, backstroke leg. Here is where it gets exciting. He swam his breastroke leg in 33.9 seconds, the fastest split in the pool, catching him up to the rest of the field. After touching second on the third wall the race was on! George swam with a big heart and held on all the way to the wall to finish third behind the two Americans and gained his spot on the medal stand.
What made the race and George's accomplishments even more interesting was that the backbone of his motivation and inspiration came from being an Auburn Tiger. Before George's race the Auburn male swimmers got together and went to meet with George to pump him up before his race. There was no talk about Trinidad and Tobago, or the significance of being in an Olympic final. We talked about being an Auburn Tiger. We brought George back to being the competitive, confident, relentless swimmer that he is when he swims for Auburn. We reminded him that he was the 'Hammer of Justice' (as he likes to call himself at Auburn) and we even drew a hammer on his left arm with a magic marker (as he also does back at Auburn). George left us to go swim with the most confidence I have ever seen him have. He flexed his arms behind the blocks and stared at the hammer on his arm. That race didn't feel great, in fact he told me that it hurt really bad, but he had heart and he swam with guts because the traditions and standards of Auburn swimming were implemented. The Hammer of Justice prevailed! There were scattered fans wearing their GO GEORGE T-shirts, which have become a hot item. I for one am keeping mine!
People ask me all the time why Auburn swimmers and divers are so good. How do you guys do it? What do you do? Of course we train ridiculously hard and countless hours of training are required of us, but that alone is not what separates us from the rest of the world. Yes, I said world. What separates us is that we are Auburn men and women. We believe in a spirit that is not afraid and we believe in Auburn and love it. David Marsh has instilled the truths of the creed and what it means to be an Auburn Tiger into the minds and souls of his swimmers and divers. During the medal ceremony last night I saw more Auburn University flags than I did Trinidad and Tobago! It is like we are our own country! It's great to be an Auburn Tiger!