Day 3: Oklahoma Wins Meet, Heads Home
The 13-and-overs were ready to check out of the hotel at 10 a.m. We hauled our luggage to the bus and claimed our seats.
When we arrived at the meet, the 12-and-unders were almost done. By the end of the morning session, even with the great swims we’d had, Team Oklahoma was 427 points behind Indiana. The whole team came together right then, and we decided we wanted to win. We believed we could make up the points. And sure enough, after each event, we kept closing the gap between us and Indiana. If you weren't motivated to swim fast, you became motivated for the team!
After the 200-meter backstroke, Team Oklahoma took the lead. The 12-and-unders cheered us on, standing behind every lane with an Oklahoma swimmer, shouting the athlete on to the finish. It was such an awesome experience to be part of a team like this!
We won! Team Oklahoma was ecstatic! We all got to push Coach Kathy and Coach Elise into the pool. Everyone was smiling and clapping!
Since we won, Kathy promised us a nice dinner. We all got dressed up at the pool and headed to a local Italian restaurant. We basically took up the whole restaurant because we had so many swimmers. The food was amazing. Kathy handed out the medals, and we all took pictures together.
The bus ride home was a long one. It felt way longer than the bus ride there. We watched a few movies and told funny stories. Around midnight, people were either asleep or going to sleep. Looking around, you'd think we had just finished some four-week-long, intense journey because everyone was that exhausted. Some fell asleep with their heads in their lap, others were on top of their friends, and some were just laying against the window, mouths wide open. Needless to say, we looked beat. Fortunately, we didn't have any snorers! It was hard to sleep on the bus, but I managed as did everyone else.
We arrived in Tulsa to drop off swimmers around 6:15 a.m. Most of us woke up then to pick up trash, get our things together and hug our northeast friends good-bye. Finally, the rest of us arrived in Oklahoma City at 7:30 a.m. We stumbled out of the bus and hugged good-bye. I looked around at this fantastic team, and I realized that these athletes, no matter where they came from or where they're going back to, got to share this one incredible experience that we can remember together for years to come.
Thank you, Oklahoma Swimming, for this unforgettable experience!
Day 2: Team Oklahoma Rocks!
The 13 overs left the hotel at 10 a.m. to cheer on the 12 unders’ relays. It was like a sauna on deck, and all the 13 overs crowded around a fan and let the air fill our shirts. We looked like fat blueberries with our blue Oklahoma shirts blown up! Everyone looked at us like we were crazy.
After the morning session ended (which had some pretty amazing swims!), ours began. Byron Davis, a former American record-holder who was also three-tenths of a second shy of becoming the first African-American to make the Olympic team, delivered a fantastic inspirational talk to all the swimmers about perseverance, inclusion, and positivity. He taught us a way to focus on one thing in order to exclude all our negative thoughts. It's hard to explain, but it definitely works.
At the meet, there were so many different kids swimming. Seeing all kinds of swimmers come together to race was such a cool experience.
The meet ran great. Team Oklahoma rocked! Our team spirit was off the charts, and we ended the day with a 50-point lead! Coach Kathy's excitement is contagious, and everyone is excited to see what we can do tomorrow!
It was William’s 13th birthday! We devoured some cupcakes and sang “Happy Birthday” probably five times for all the different cameras.
After the meet, we headed to a sort of banquet for all the swimmers and coaches. They fed us Fazoli’s and let me say, those breadsticks were probably the best breadsticks I've ever had.
As all the teams left, Kathy rounded us up to hand out medals. Team Oklahoma won 41 percent of the medals today!
We went to a park for 30 minutes before going to the hotel. We had some serious team bonding through the land version of sharks and minnows. (Don't worry, Mom, I only fell once.)
Before bed, I hung out with some of the girls, and we ate food and talked in one of the rooms. We had so much fun, we lost track of time and had to make a beeline for our rooms, fortunately with a minute to spare before curfew.
Day One: On the road to the Central Zone Multi-Cultural Meet
Turns out the morning didn't feel as early as I thought it would. I gathered my luggage together and headed out the door at 4:30 a.m. Even though I'll only be gone for three days, I think I packed enough stuff to last me two weeks.
Coach Kathy brought all kinds of bagels and cream cheeses for breakfast (including bacon-flavored cream cheese, which the guys devoured!).
We watched movies on the bus, and after lunch, Kathy put together groups of four of all ages to learn Spades. I met some of the younger swimmers and got to know them better during our games of Spades. Fortunately, our group caught on really fast, and we had some intense rounds.
Finally, at 7 p.m. Eastern time, we made it to the pool. We were all really, really ready to get off the bus, walk, and stretch. We walked into the beautiful facility; the smell of chlorine and pool was crazy strong. We took our group pictures and headed to the pool to loosen up. The water is crystal clear, and the pool deck is large.
Around 8 p.m., we headed off to eat pizza. We went into a diner and took up a huge back room. We were all wearing our orange diversity shirts, and the people in the restaurant watched us walk in like we were pros or something. With all of us in orange and mirrors covering the walls, the whole room looked like a giant bowl of oranges.
After dinner, we went to our hotel. The boys and girls have to stay in different hotels because our team this year is so big! I got assigned with the sweetest roomie!
About Katie: Katie Callahan is a 15-year-old sectional swimmer for Oklahoma City’s King Marlin Swim Club. She fell in love with the water as a toddler and has been swimming competitively since she was 5. Katie, who currently holds three Oklahoma state records in distance events, also swims for Edmond Memorial High School and was the 6A State Champion in the 500-yard freestyle. Of Cherokee descent, Katie is excited to compete this weekend in her first Diversity and Inclusion All-Star Meet. In addition to swimming, Katie enjoys hanging out with friends, eating sno cones after practice and camping with her family.
About the Meet: The Central Zone Multi-Cultural Swim Meet, held June 12-14 at the Bulldog Aquatic Center in Brownsburg, Ind., is part of USA Swimming’s efforts to create a culture of inclusion and opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds. Fifty-four athletes from across the state comprise this year’s Oklahoma Swimming Diversity and Inclusion All-Star Team.