"Josh the Otter" at the USA Olympic Swimming Trials and CWS in Omaha, NE

07/07/2016

The "Josh the Baby Otter" team was recently invited to be in the Aqua Zone at the USA Olympic Swim Trials by our partners, the USA Swimming Foundation.  It was a huge honor for us all.

 

As the trials were kicking off, the College World Series (CWS) was coming to an end.  The best of 3 championship games were still being played...Arizona and Coastal Carolina.  We took advantage of the hot, humid NE weather, walking around and distributing our Josh the Otter hand fans outside the stadium throughout those 3 days.  I bet we went through 1,000 - 1,500 fans.  People were even coming up and asking for them...kids, adults...everyone.  Many were asking what they were about, which is what we wanted...a conversation about water safety.  At night we'd go back to Blake and Kathy's hotel room and watch the baseball game, pointing out Josh the Otter's face on tv like 'Where is Waldo'.  It was very exhausting, but so much fun.  My friends were even sending me photos of them at the game with the hand fans, and we caught a couple photos on TV, but were too late most of the time. 

 

As the CWS was coming to an end, the Swim Trials were just getting started.  They had over 200,000 people at the trials, sold out for every session.  The Aqua Zone was packed most of the time with kids, swim teams, etc... Our team and many volunteers manned the booth and did "Josh the Baby Otter" book readings at 1pm and 4pm Monday-Friday.  The kids loved seeing Josh walking around giving high fives telling kids to make sure to "have an adult when they go near the water" and "always swim with a buddy". 

 

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the trials two separate nights, thanks to Sue Nelson, Laura Metro, and Blake and Kathy.  The first night I got to watch Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky and many others.  The second night, I sat up close, witnessing Phelps barely beat Lochte in the 200 individual medley, both qualifying for Rio.  I sat next to a girl, whose friend, Will, swam and qualified for the finals the next night...we cheered and yelled loud for him.  Goosebumps filled my arms watching the final seconds of the swimmers giving their all, reaching out to win.  One race, two teammates came in 1st and 2nd, both qualifying for the Olympics.  I was so happy for them and all the others, their hard work was paying off and dreams finally coming true. 

 

I had never been to an Olympic Trial before and was not disappointed.  I am inspired from watching dedicated individuals reaching their goals through commitment and hours of work.  Here are a few photos of our time at the trials and CWS.

 

 

 

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© 2019 by Ashley Spitsnogle