Anniversaries are special. Looking back over the years, one can see and celebrate the accomplishments achieved from the growing pains. Was it worth it? Would we do it again – and why?
From the L.A. Live Marriott in Los Angeles, Olympic medalists dove into the 10th anniversary of the Golden Goggle Awards.
“When I was with the (USA Swimming) Foundation 10 years ago, we started this whole thing and it really has changed the landscape of our sport because it honors all these kids that worked so hard,” said three-time Olympic medalist and NBC Sports commentator Rowdy Gaines, who also serves as the foundation’s ambassador.
“We never had this when I was a swimmer,” he said. “They look forward to every year getting dressed up and having people see them without swimsuits and goggles.”
Santa Clarita swimming sensation Anthony Ervin – clad in a dapper, raw umber suit and bow tie – signed autographs after clinching nine of the the 31 medals netted by the U.S. national swim team in the FINA World Cup Championships world tour.
“(The) best part of it was seeing my friends abroad, hands down,” said Ervin. “My people make my world.”
World-class Olympians in attendance included 92-year-old Lance Larson, who served as a presenter during the awards.
“I remember making the Olympic team in 1960, going to Rome and winning gold and silver medal,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s been with me all these years.”
The 2013 national team is composed of swimmers ranging in age from 15 to 32.
“I expected to do well, but it was great to see such a big accomplishment from my hard work,” said 17-year-old Simone Manuel.
Seasoned swimmer and current world record holder Missy Franklin agreed.
“It’s been an unbelievable year. One thing about swimming is you can keep setting your goals higher and higher,” she said before giving a shout-out to her hometown.
Of course, fashion was making a statement, and Cullen Jones would have to receive a Golden Goggle for fashion, if there were such a thing. Sporting Gucci gym shoes – I confess, I didn’t know Gucci had a sports line – Jones’ glow-in-the-dark neon yellow high tops were the talk of the night.
“I wish this was my own fashion line. I would love to work for Gucci,” Jones said.
Jones and Gaines are the faces of USA Swimming’s Make A Splash Initiative to bring awareness to the drowning epidemic. Nationally, it is the second-leading cause of accidental death among children – second only to auto fatalities.
“That alone ought to at least make people aware that something needs to be done, and the foundation is doing a lot about that,” said Gaines. The event’s silent auction raised $66,000 for the cause.
Taking home the coveted Female Athlete of the Year award, 16-year-old Katie Ledecky said all of the hard work does pay off.
“This year was incredible with the team. (It was) a blast racing,” she said. “I could not have asked for anything more.”
Other greats outside of swimming continue to raise the banner for swim lessons.
“I am in awe of these Olympians, as is every one else,” said actress Charlene Tilton of the long-running TV series, “Dallas.”
“Historically, the U.S. was a huge advocate of learning how to swim as far back as Benjamin Franklin,” said Ervin. “He felt swimming was so valuable as a skill and as a personal passion, he wanted to bring this to other people. I would like to continue that.”
Young and old, swimmers, non-swimmers … on this 10th anniversary, is it worth it?
“Enjoy the process,” Nathan Adrian said. “You’re going to look back on it and realize that at the end moment, it’s an amazing feeling. But the thing you will cherish the most after it’s all done is the hard work you put in. The blood, sweat and tears with your friends – because that’s what really makes it all worth it.”
Gloria Locke is a Santa Clarita resident and producer of “SCV-Arts & Entertainment,” which airs Fridays and Sundays on SCVTV. Article orginally posted on SCVnews.com. You can view it at http://scvnews.com/2013/12/06/blood-sweat-and-chlorine-commentary-by-gloria-locke/