Rebel swimmers compete on the world's biggest sporting stage
Story by Shane Bevell
Photo by Aaron Mayes
Sleep. Eat. Swim. That simple mantra of UNLV's Olympic swimmers proves daunting when you consider you have to eat like a horse, sleep like a bear, and swim like a fish.
Three Rebels spent a good chunk of their summer in the McDermott pool preparing for the Beijing Games. Joe Bartoch, '07 BS Physical Education, and Richard Hortness, a senior majoring in education and biology, represented Canada, while Jonas Andersson, '08 BA Economics, swam for Sweden.
TRAINING IS SWEET, BUT NOT EASY
Several days a week, the Olympic hopefuls spent two, two-hour sessions in the pool. On the days when they only swam once, they lifted weights, ran stairs, jumped rope, and did crunches. "I love the muscle ache and the burning," Bartoch says. "When I feel the pain, I want to keep going."
Swimmers typically consume thousands more calories per day than the average person. Bartoch devours meatloaf, steak, and his mother's pierogi. Hortness has a soft spot for dark chocolate cake, while Andersson slurps an Oreo-banana milkshake before going to bed. "It takes a lot of energy to train the way we do," Andersson says. "We have to eat enough calories to replenish the calories we burn and sleep enough so that our bodies can recover."
The first step in the Olympic quest was to make their respective national teams. Canadian Hortness and Swede Andersson were roommates for two years. During the qualifying meets for their respective teams, the two texted encouraging messages to each other. "He is one of the most focused and smartest people I know," Hortness says of Andersson. "He puts his mind to something and doesn't get distracted."
The Canadians spent three weeks prior to the Games training in Singapore, while Andersson spent two in Japan. Since the swimming competition began the day after opening ceremonies, they didn't march in front of the 91,000 fans in the Bird's Nest. Instead the trio gathered together to watch the festivities on television. "I'm glad we didn't march," says Bartoch, "because according to ESPN, (Canada) was the fourth worst-dressed nation."
Although they didn't win medals, the swimmers were able to compete on the biggest sporting stage against the world's best athletes. Bartoch swam the 100-meter butterfly and the butterfly leg of the 4x100 medley relay. Hortness competed in the 50-meter freestyle. Andersson swam the 100-meter breaststroke and the breaststroke leg of the 4x100 medley relay.
After competing, the athletes were able to soak up the Olympic atmosphere by watching other sports, spending time in the Olympic Village, and trying some of the local cuisine.
Bartoch and Hortness experienced the Chinese culture by watching Kung Fu exhibitions and visiting the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. "A lot of people worked their whole life on that wall and never saw its completion," Bartoch says. "It is something everyone should see to appreciate how magnificent it truly is."
LONDON IN FOUR YEARS?
Although each says competing in the Beijing Games was a remarkable and unforgettable experience, they have different thoughts about competing in London in four years.
Andersson turned his focus from swimming to school, returning to Sweden to pursue a master's degree in finance at the Stockholm School of Economics. "This was probably the last big meet of my career."
Although he plans to swim a while longer, Bartoch isn't sure about London in 2012. "I accomplished every goal I wanted in swimming so far," he says, "but we'll see what happens when 2012 rolls around."
Hortness has completed his UNLV swimming career but returns to campus to finish his studies. The London games are a possibility, he says. "I need to bulk up so that I have the muscle I need to really be competitive."
Goat-tyer Kassi Venturacci
Rodeo Team Wrangles a Championship
Led by barrel racer Nellie Williams and goat-tyer Kassi Venturacci, the women's rodeo team won the national title this summer at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR).
The Rebel riders racked up 470 points to outpace runner-up New Mexico State University during the 60th annual competition. The UNLV men's team finished 14th, led by Wes Lockard, who was runnerup for the individual overall title and placed fourth in steer wrestling.
More than 400 competitors from 100 universities and colleges vie for the chance to rope or ride at the CNFR each year. Since its inception in 1993, UNLV's rodeo teams have won 13 team and individual national titles.