TERRE HAUTE —
Time for Olympic swimmers to excel
Every four years they resurface.
They are suddenly in our commercials. They bring us to our feet. They wave flags and carry stuffed animals, and quite often they touch the wall before the rest of the world, and we chant USA, and they smile, sometimes cry, on the podium.
Then they go back under.
The swimmers never demand much from us. But honestly, we really cannot know them anyway. Their bodies are perfect and their teeth are straight and they spend thousands of hours building up to a race that might take only 30 seconds. In a world that rejects repetition and patience and anything that happened so 20 seconds ago, swimmers grind it out in the same line, for hours, every day.
There is something both superhuman and inhuman about them. Something foreign and unknowable. Their dedication and focus are mythical: 250,000 people vie for 50 spots (25 women, 25 men) and the glory of the Olympic Games. Less than 1 percent will find the red, white and blue Speedos in their lives. The top two finishers in each event get to the Olympics, with the next finishers becoming candidates for relays. It is hard to swim against yourself every day for years, both literally and figuratively. Your “personal best time” is an elusive entity.
I attended the Olympic Trials this year in Omaha, Neb. I have seen my share of swim meets, but USA Swimming has turned the Trials into a major sports spectacle. There were many winners, but when Michael Phelps flaps his 7’2” wing span at the beginning of every heat, there is a hush. He looks like a California condor screeching off a cliff face. Michael Phelps doesn’t always win … no swimmer does. They take their knocks and losses with a mixture of grace and regret. And then they go back under, until Rio in 2016.
— Barb Lidster
Wonderful group with a good cause
My wife and I wanted to tell you of our experience with a Wabash Valley group named Ramp It Up. Their goal is to make living easier for those who need help one ramp at a time.
Patty Jones of the Western Indiana Community Action Agency said, “Several years ago we started a program called Ramp It Up with our volunteers. That’s where we build wheelchair ramps for folks that needed them but couldn’t afford them.”
She and Todd Newman and all their volunteers came to our house recently and built a new wheelchair ramp for my wife. She cannot walk very far and when she does, it is very painful. She relies on the Area 7 bus to get to all her doctors’ appointments. She had to walk to the bus in pain. She has a motorized wheelchair she uses in the house and now she can take it on the Area 7 buses as they have a lift for wheelchairs.
The whole team did an excellent job. They had to dig up our flowers to put the ramp in and they even saved the bulbs for us so we could replant them. They took away all the scrap wood, the old concrete walk and plants they took out. And when they were finished the front yard was spotless … a very professional job.
We’re so happy and so grateful to Patty and Todd and all the volunteers for making this possible. We just wanted you to know about this wonderful group of people and their program.
— Karl and Karen Shultz