Athens Native Returns Home from Olympics with Lifelong Memories

From small town aspirations, to international success. That has been the formula for Grenada national swimming coach Hollie Bonewit-Cron.

The 34-year old Ohio University graduate and Athens native coached Esau Simpson to a Grenadian best time in the 100-meter freestyle at the Games. Simpson finished first in his heat, but failed to advance in the competition.

“I am taking with me the memory of Esau’s preparation for the Games and his specific race,” said Bonewit-Cron. “It was so great to watch him win his heat in the morning and achieve a personal best time, new Grenadian National Record, as well as a new Grenadian Olympic Record.”

Bonewit-Cron was named the Grenada swimming coach after Simpson asked her to coach him in the Olympics. Bonewit-Cron coaches Simpson at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, where she is the head coach.

Athens native Hollie Bonewit-Cron coached the Grenada National swimming team at the 2012 Olympics. Photo Credit: NCAA.com

Even after being part of the biggest sporting event in the world, Bonewit-Cron is grateful for her hometown.

“I have often thought about my experience with growing up in Athens and feel that I am grateful for being part of such a great community,” said Bonewit-Cron. “But also having the initiative to achieve my goals, all of which I learned from growing up in a smaller town like Athens.”

Bonewit-Cron began swimming at the age of six after watching her brother compete. Bonewit-Cron was a three-time All-Mid-American Conference first team selection during her four years at Ohio University. She was a 17-time MAC Champion and during her junior season, was named the MAC swimmer of the year.

Following her time in Athens, she became the assistant coach at the University of Florida, before starting the program at Nova Southeastern.

“I could relate to athletes and learned to coach through my mentor,” she said. “I decided that I wanted to continue down the coaching road during my first year at Florida.”

Bonewit-Cron said she will always remember taking part in the Opening ceremony.

“I am so grateful to Grenada for selecting me to walk in the opening ceremonies,” she said. “The electric atmosphere as we walked out of the tunnel and into the stadium is indescribable.”

The Athens High School grad also said she thinks this will not be the peak to her career and wants the opportunity to coach at the Olympics in 2016 in Rio De Janeiro.

“If Grenada allows me the opportunity to coach for them in 2016 in Rio, I will definitely be there,” she said. “They are such a great country that welcomed me with open arms as an American.”

Bonewit-Cron plans to return to Athens and Ohio University this fall, when she will be inducted into the Ohio University Athletic Hall of Fame during Homecoming weekend in October.

 

Americans swim for a different red, white and blue

LONDON – As the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea.  Everyone knows who Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte are, but there are many more American swimmers that most Olympic viewers never hear about.  These are citizens, born and raised in the United States, but swimming for another country.

Margaux Farrell poses for a picture in front of the Olympic rings. (Photo provided by Margaux Farrell)

Margaux Farrell, a member of the French Women’s 4x200m relay team, is a unique story.  Farrell graduated from Indiana University this past spring where she won three Big Ten swimming titles.  Her mother, Slyvie Farrell, is a former swimmer for the French national team that missed qualifying for the Olympics by one one-hundredth of a second.  In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Farrell swam a leg in the semifinal race for the 4x200m women’s relay, in which later that night her team won the bronze medal.  From living in the Olympic Village to swimming in the pool, Farrell talked about her Olympic experience and her bond with her mother.

Colin Brown: What is it like to be an American student swimming for an international team?

Margaux Farrell: It’s fine. A lot of swimmers go to school in thE US, so there are many foreigners that I recognize from NCAA meets. I’m fluent in French though and have spent a lot of time in France so I feel just as much French as I do American.

 

CB: Do you live with the French team in the village?

MF: Yes

 

CB: Are you friends with some of the American athletes? If so, do you hangout with them at the games or mainly your French teammates?

MF: Yes I am, but I stayed mainly with the French.

 

CB: What have you learned from your mom about swimming on a national level?

MF: I’ve learned to cherish the experience more than anything because in the end that is what you’ll remember most.

 

CB: How close are you and your mom when it comes to swimming?

MF: My mom and I are close when it comes to everything.  She’s really my best friend.  People always say that we are the same!

 

CB: What kind of advice or tips does she give you before swimming?

MF: She tells me to relax and that I’m going to be fine and that no matter what she loves me.

 

CB: I saw that you swam the semifinals for the 4×200 and in the finals the team got bronze, so as a leg of the qualifying team, do you receive a medal?

Farrell’s bronze medal that she won as a member of the 4x200m relay team. (Photo provided by Margaux Farrell)

MF: Yes I did.

 

CB: I was told that you were initially in the Olympics as an alternate, is that accurate?

MF: No, it’s called that I guess but most major teams bring 6 people so they can put up the most rested relay each time. I was always going to swim though.

 

CB: Describe the feeling you had when you were told that you were going to be competing for the team. What kind of emotions were you experiencing?

MF: I was excited, but it didn’t fully hit me until I left IU and went to Europe because I had so much other stuff going on like school and graduating so I didn’t focus on my qualification at first.

 

CB: When you walked in to the natatorium for the 4x200m race, what emotions were you feeling then?

MF: I honestly don’t remember much.  I know I was nervous in the days leading up but calm on the day of.  I tried to just look at the pool and not up at the stands, it was just another 200 like I had done before and that is what I had to keep telling myself.

 

Farrell takes a picture with her French teammates. (Photo provided by Margaux Farrell)

CB: Describe any added pressure that you felt that you hadn’t experienced in past races at any point in your life.

MF: Well this was swimming for my country on the biggest stage of athletics so I obviously had to do well but the people I trained with and swam with were supportive and encouraging so I felt ready to do my job for the team.

 

CB: Competing for your school is a big deal, but what is it like to compete for an entire country?

MF: It’s a lot of pressure.  I had a lot of people counting on me and I had a lot at stake so I needed to be focused and determined but it ended up working out just fine.  I imagined that moment for years and trained hard for that so I had confidence in what I was going to do and when I dove into the pool I just had to have faith in my training and my abilities to not have any regrets and just go for it!

 

Nicholas Schwab, an upcoming senior at Indiana University, represented the Dominican Republic as the team’s only male swimmer.  Schwab swam in the 200m Freestyle where he won his heat with a time of 1:53.41 and qualified 36th overall in the event.  He talked about what an amazing experience he had swimming for the Dominican Republic.

 

Colin Brown: What’s it like being an American student swimming for another country?

Nicholas Schwab: It’s a wonderful experience.  I get the best of both worlds.  I am proud to be American, and I am proud to be Dominican.

 

Olympic swimmers practice before their races. (Photo provided by Nicholas Schwab)

CB: How did you end up swimming for the Dominican Republic?

NS: Last summer I applied for dual citizenship through my mother.  We went to the Dominican Republic and I swam in their national competition.  It was great!  I decided that I wanted to gain international experience so the best chance for that at this point was to swim for the Dominican Republic.

 

CB: What were the qualifications like?

NS: I was entered into the games through the universality rules, meaning one guy and one girl given the times are fast enough can be approved to go without FINA A or B cuts.  Being the fastest Dominican, and with a 1:53.8 in the 200 free I was able to qualify for the games.

 

CB: What is it like living in the Olympic Village with all of the other athletes?

NS: Really cool.  I’m surrounded by amazing people.  I’ve been meeting huge athletes—even WR holders.  It’s a great experience, really helping me to grow as an athlete.

 

CB: Do you live with the DR athletes or fellow American athletes?

NS: I live with some of the Dominican coaches and medical staff.

 

CB: Do you hangout with a lot of the Americans in the village?

NS: Not really.  I have some friends from Suriname, actually; it’s been great to spend time with them.

 

Nicholas Schwab poses for a picture with his fellow Dominican Republic swimmer, Dorian McMenemy. (Photos provided by Nicholas Schwab)

CB: What is it like to be the only male swimmer for DR?

NS: It’s a pretty special feeling.  I am a unique person, it just adds to my personality.  It encourages me to represent the country as best I can.  Not only am I representing the DR in the games, but I am also representing the entire sport back at home in the DR for all of the athletes there!

 

CB: What about the female swimmer, Dorian, who is also from the US? Are you both close? Do you have a special bond being the only swimmers?

NS: Dorian is a great girl; she is very, very talented in swimming and will continue to grow in the sport with the years to come.  I look forward to seeing her success.  We are friends but we live in different states so we don’t see each other very often.  She has a great family and we all get along very well!

 

CB: How does swimming at Indiana help you with the pressures of International swimming?

NS: In all honesty, it seems to be the other way around.  The international experience and swimming in the Olympics has really helped my college career out.  This exposure to such high levels of competition has helped me put things into perspective, and really have fueled my motivation for college swimming, especially going forward.

Journalism: the fine art of hanging around

So I think that I can finally say that I am an official journalist for two reasons:

  1. I have mastered the fine art of “hanging around” that some call journalism
  2. I know what it means to finally #partylikeajournalist

Now let me tell you what I mean by these. These past 48 hours have been crazy, and the next 48 are going to be just as hectic for me.

USA Olympic BMX team at their press conference. Yeah, it was pretty cool to be there. Photo by me.

It all started on Saturday morning, when I travelled close to the Olympic Village to the Media Press Centre (yes, Centre is spelled correctly). I went with two fellow Scripps journalists, and we were to cover the BMX press conference. Now I am not a huge fan of the sport, not because I don’t like it – it just has never really caught my eye. But after a little research the night before (at like 3 a.m.), I found out a lot about the sport, and I might actually start watching it – maybe.

Well, we went to the press conference, got out stories, and we were supposed to be on our merry ways. Well, we decided to stay around for a little while and see what was up around the center. I mean, there were news stations from literally ALL OVER THE WORLD. So we decided to hang around a little bit – our passes were good for all day.

We found out when we went to the United States Olympic Committee that there was another press conference less than an hour after the one we had just been to, and we were allowed to go to it. It was with recent gold medal winner Jamie Gray. She had just set a world record in shooting, and she was coming in to speak to the press.

Well, we were about one of only four media outlets that showed up, but it worked out in our favor because we were allowed to hold her gold medal. I must say – it is heavier than it looks.

Michael Phelps!!!
Photo also by me.

We decided to master the fine art of hanging around even further, and we went back to the USOC, where we found out that there was going to be a press conference later that night with Michael Phelps, Serena Williams and Missy Franklin. Well – we had to stay now. I was the only one in a dilemma though because I had play tickets for the night. I was not expecting this opportunity to come knock on our door.

So after calling long distance to home in a panic at 6:30 p.m. (only 30 minutes until I was supposed to meet my friends to get the tickets, and I was easily 45 minutes across town), getting locked out of the media center, having no way back in, having to call USOC via Skype and finally getting back in with the nice help of a security guard, I was ready to go to the press conference. (And I did not even attempt to leave the premise once after that).Well, Serena Williams never showed up, but Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin did, and man was it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This is me trying to interview Carmelo Anthony … it worked out so well.
Photo by Holly Moody.

So the fine art of hanging around worked out in my favor … except for the three hours of sleep I got last night before I had to get up this morning to go to the USA Tae Kwon Do Olympic team practice. It was pretty cool … but what was even cooler was the fact that Holly and I accidentally ran into an Olympic silver medalist in archery from Ohio, and we got to interview him. Or the fact that I got interviews with some of the best basketball players in the world.

So now, I will party like a journalist. I have three more articles to write, and two more events to cover on Tuesday. I will get it all done – the question is just, how late will I be going to bed tonight? We shall see …

Q & A with a Bobcat at the Olympic Trials

Lauren Funk, a senior swimmer at Ohio University, is at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska preparing for one of the biggest races of her career. Funk will compete in the preliminaries of the 50 meter freestyle on Sunday morning, 11 A.M. EST. If she should advance, the semifinals would be that night and the finals would be on Monday evening. The Trials ultimately take 52 athletes (26 men; 26 women) when the eight days of competition are completed.

Funk will swim on Sunday at the Olympic Trials in the 50 Meter Freestyle.

Funk was named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America Honorable Mention after her performances this season. She hails from Springfield, Ohio and racked up five top-10 finishes at this years MAC Championships.

Lauren took some time to sit down with us a couple of days before her race and talk to us about her preparation and mindset going into the race.

When did you start to swim competitively and what got you interested in the sport?

“I swam in a summer league ever since I was nine, but then I started swimming year-round in the eighth grade. When I first joined a club team I was average, but in my second year doing club I shot forward and qualified for all these meets that kids training for 10 years hadn’t even qualified for. I got good at it and figured I would see how far I could go. I really enjoy it and it’s really fun.”

How did you get the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Trials?

“There is a certain time standard that you have to meet for each race. I got my time this Spring at Ohio University at a swim meet.”

What has your training regimen been like leading up to the Trials?

“Training has been kind of the same, but slightly different. We are training like it is any other meet, like the MAC Championship meet. Sadly, I am the only one from my team now that is at the Trials. So I have been training kind of separated from the group, but that actually fuels me more to work my butt off so good things happen at trials and I can go back to training with them.”

How does training for the Olympic Trials compare to training for a collegiate season?

“It is long course work compared to short course work. You have to get more yardage in, because it is a longer race no matter what you swim. But at the same time you have to work on better finishes and better starts to get those extra few seconds. Work on the little things.”

How do you deal with the busy and demanding training schedule involved in the sport?

“I have lost a lot of sleep since high school. It’s just time management. Freshman year is always hard, but after that you get a routine and figure out that you can’t watch television so long because you have to do your homework because you won’t have time tomorrow. It’s just a lot of time management. That is all you can do.”

What runs through your mind during the final stretch of a race?

“You know if the race is good enough from the very start. If the race is good and you feel good, the finish is just so easy. You kind of  blackout for a minute. At one point you are in the middle of the pool and the next you are on the wall and you see this amazing time and you jump up and down. It’s a really good feeling when you know you are swimming well.”

Fast forward to 20 minutes before the race on Sunday. What emotions are running through your head?

“I went out to the pool today (Friday) and my heart sped up just because it is a little overwhelming. I think it is good I am getting that out of my system now because on Sunday I will just be cool and collected behind the blocks, but at the same time I am really excited to swim amidst all of those people watching. The whole atmosphere is crazy so I am really excited to get started.”

How would it feel to to be able to represent your country on the biggest of stages in London this summer?

“I have no idea how I could even explain how I would feel. I am at the second biggest meet in a swimmer’s lifetime. It’s crazy how close I am to even going to the Olympics.”