Friday, August 3, 2012

The agony of swimming defeat

The final SwimMAC swimmer to dive into the pool was Kara Lynn Joyce, a three-time Olympian who moved to Charlotte in April in a last-minute attempt to resurrect her stroke and career.

And it worked -- for awhile. But not on Friday, when Joyce dissolved into tears and was unable to continue our interview when she got knocked out of the 50 freestyle, her lone Olympic event.

Joyce had made the U.S. Olympic team a month ago with a great 50 freestyle -- the third time she has done so. She is the most experienced Olympian among the eight swimmers with N.C. ties.

But Friday morning was not kind to Joyce. First, in her preliminary swim, she finished tied for 16th among all swimmers.

That forced a three-woman swim-off, because the top 16 women advance to tonight's semifinals.

Joyce, a British swimmer and an Israeli swimmer had to line up again two hours later, with only the winner advancing to the semifinals.

You can imagine who the crowd was for, and it went home happy. The British swimmer won. Joyce was second by a hair and the Israeli was third.

Joyce came to the "mix zone," where most Olympic interviews are conducted over a makeshift fence, a few minutes later. I asked her to talk about both her races that morning.

She took a deep breath. "It was hard sitting around [between the races]," she said. "I'm glad I got another opportunity to do it. It would have been nice to make it back [to the semifinals]."

And then she started to cry, and couldn't say anything else. I told her that was fine, that was enough, and we ended the interview.

David Marsh, Joyce's coach at SwimMAC, said later that Joyce was "probably pondering retirement." He also said it was weighing heavily on her mind that a number of her family members had come to London to see her swim and she had wanted to do well for them.

Meanwhile, Cullen Jones and Nick Thoman swam Friday morning in the 4x100 medley relay preliminary and both did well as the U.S. won the heat. The U.S. should also win that event tonight -- Jones and Thoman won't be in the final, but by virtue of this morning swim will almost certainly add another medal apiece to their haul.

1 comment:

Jane Gear said...

My family and I are so proud of Joyce. Her mother taught me how to swim when I was young and Joyce would be around to show me the ins and outs on swimming. Joyce is a very dedicated person with the most positive attitude. Reading that she cried breaks my heart but I know she will get back on her feet.

Thanks Scott for sharing your article.