Hi and thanks for stopping by! Read on for some information about how I get involved in sport and my involvement in some of the causes I care about.
I grew up in Texas, Virginia, Heidelberg and Berlin, Germany, Maryland, and Gainesville, Florida as the daughter of a JAG Corps army officer. My childhood revolved around academics, sport, and art. My involvement in swimming began because my parents required that my brothers and I played a sport seriously at some point to instill a focus on maintaining physical health. At the age of 7, there were three options to choose from: softball, soccer, and swimming. I took to swimming more naturally and I loved to race, so swimming seemed like the good choice. After a few years, I started winning races more regularly as a part of the European Forces Swim League representing the Heidelberg Sea Lions and the Berlin Barracudas. Back in “civilian” life, I continued on as a member of the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers and the Florida Aquatics Swim Team in Gainesville, Florida. In Maryland, I started being able to out-swim not only the girls my age, but the boys as well. I began to train with older guys which was a wonderful experience. I have a lot of great memories of protective older brother “types,” intense practice sessions, pranks, and a lot of laughter. At the age of 14 at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials, I jumped from being tied for 71st place in the country in the 200 meter breastroke to placing 5th in the final race of the competition. At that point, I realized that the Olympic dream may actually be possible for me. I devoted as much time as possible to training while also being enrolled in the demanding curriculum of the International Baccalaureate educational program. In high school, I was known as the athlete who was always eating during class or grabbing a quick nap in an empty classroom during breaks. Amongst my training teammates for the Atlanta Olympic Games, I was known as one of the few swimmers Olympian Anthony Nesty would welcome to swim in his lane, for my quiet but bold personality, for winning races by "touching people out," for my intense work ethic, for pioneering the use of a new back-to-breast transition medley turn, and for accomplishments like setting a world record while winning a race against a doping athlete and winning a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games. More information about my time as an athlete can be found here.
I'm proud to be a founding member of Art of the Olympians, an organization promoting the Olympic ideals through sport and art educational programs, a member of Champion Women's Committee to Restore Integrity in Sport focusing on the prevention of child abuse in sport, a member of the Global Gene Corp team aiming to diversify the world's bank of genetic data, and a former member of Team Darfur which raised awareness about genocide in Sudan. I’m passionate about human rights, the betterment of healthcare and education, climate preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and privacy and security-oriented technologies.
I raced against multiple doping athletes during my reign as one of the world’s best medley swimmers - some from systemic doping regimes and some not. Many people don’t realize that doping is also a child abuse issue. I competed against child athletes who were being doped without their knowledge only to find out years later that they had been doped and that they may or may not face a multitude of health-related issues that can arise as a result of the abuse of some of the more commonly used performance-enhancing drugs. If you’re interested in these experiences and what I have to say about Olympic anti-doping reform, you can check out an article by Ben Jervey in GOOD magazine in which I talked about clean athletes competing against steroids, an article by Michael Moynihan of the Irish Examiner talking about the Rio Games, or an interview by David Reider of Swimming World about the role of athletes in anti-doping efforts. Swimming is one of the “cleaner” (i.e. not as much doping) sports as compared to some others, but it definitely has a storied past. Check out this article about Shirley Babashoff, American Olympic swimmer of the Montreal Games for a bit of insight. For current solutions, I would like to see Olympic sponsors request agreed-upon and predetermined standards for how doping is treated at the Olympic Games. Sponsors could structure each contract with the International Olympic Committee so that payment is correlated to the percentage of athletes not tested for doping at the Olympic Games, as a starting point. Sponsors could withhold entirety of payment until it is determined that all athletes are tested for doping at the Olympic Games. The World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Observers report showed that over 50% of athletes weren’t even tested for doping at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. If 50% of athletes aren’t tested, 50% of the sponsorship payment would not be paid. Regarding what athletes can do to support anti-doping reform, I love Olympian Nikki Dryden’s suggestion that Olympic athletes join the World Players Association. Other issues affecting athletes and the environments in which athletes are working could benefit as well if this occurred.
I currently live and work in San Francisco, CA. Feel free to reach out. 👋🏼
Image credits starting with me on the Atlanta 1996 Olympic podium: Doug Mills/Associated Press. On stage talking about anti-doping reform: Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile. Black and white, warming up for a competition: USA Swimming. Founding members of Art of the Olympians: my own.