JOLYN

There is only one word in the swimming world that is synonymous with joy, pride, honor, and thrill. And no, it’s not 200 fly, it’s JOLYN. For the past few years, Jolyn’s have taken the swimming and water sports scene by storm. Speaking from my experience, the number of my teammates that wear Jolyn’s have grown exponentially, even in the last year. It’s become a way for our team to bond. From “twinning” pics to team orders, Jolyn has creating a strong sense of team. Whether it’s the bright colorful patterns, the unique styles of the suits, or even just the small black logo, it’s something that has proven (time and time again) to be much more than just another brand of swimsuit. I can personally say that neither my sister or I have bought a non-Jolyn swimsuit in the last two years.

Not only are Jolyn’s absolutely beautiful to look at (I may have found true love:), they are amazing suits for swimming, training, and all water sports. With both the one pieces and (some) two pieces having adjustable tie-backs, the sizes are flexible and the suits stay up. I have used Jolyn’s for everything; from swim practice to weight training, and from beach bumming to playing a beach game. And never have a suffered from a wardrobe malfunction (if you know what I mean). From training one-pieces to beach bikinis, it’s the only place I ever want to shop.

So if I haven’t already convinced you that Jolyn’s are the best, I took some photos of me, my sister and a friend in our Jolyn’s, to show you what we really mean. I will link as many links as possible down below, and please let me know in the comments if you want more information on sizing!

Links:

Jolyn- https://jolynclothing.com/

Tops- https://jolynclothing.com/pages/swim-tops-category

Bottoms- https://jolynclothing.com/pages/swim-bottoms-category

One Pieces- https://jolynclothing.com/pages/onesies-category

Active Wear- https://jolynclothing.com/pages/dryland-accessories

Blue One Piece- https://jolynclothing.com/collections/solid-brandon-fixed-back-onesies/products/brandon-fixed-back-onesie-electric-blue?variant=21028013697

Pink One Piece-https://jolynclothing.com/collections/wazza-fixed-back-onesie/products/wazza-fixed-back-onesie-strawberry

Purple One Piece- https://jolynclothing.com/collections/solid-nico-tie-back-onesie

Pre-Race Rituals

In honor of my next big meet starting tomorrow, I thought I would share some of my pre-race rituals with you. These are just a few different things I do before a big race to make sure that I get up to the block feeling 100% ready. I really hope that you find these interesting and helpful, but remember that you are your own athlete. Everyone’s going to have different mindsets before a race and will need to do something different from everyone else. Do you have your own pre-race ritual? And if you don’t, can you come up with one? Leave your ritual in the comments!

Day before:

  1. I always make sure that I get at least 30 minutes in the water the day before a race. I won’t do anything hard, just a meet warm-up and some dives and sprints, but I just need to make sure that I get a feel of the water. This can be hard to do, especially if you are traveling to your meet, but I find that even waking up extra early to get a quick swim in before your flight makes you feel a lot more confident about your race.
  2. Eat smart. While I always try to do this, I do this even more so the days leading up to a meet. If I have school that day, I will pack everything I’m going to eat that whole day the night before so I know I’m eating what I need to. I eat tons of fruit, nuts and bars, protein, and complex carbs. I love brown rice cakes with peanut butter and dried cranberries or bananas. It’s a perfect way to fill yourself up with protein on the go. I try not to eat too much meat or veggies the night before, just because they tend to be a little heavier and take longer to digest. Eat simple food that will digest and give you energy before your race.
  3. WATER! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 5% dehydration results in 35% loss in performance, so drink up!

Night before:

  1. Eat dinner fairly early and get to sleep as soon as possible. Give your body as much time as possible to digest all of your food so you swim with tons of energy and without a heavy stomach.
  2. Pack your bags. I always pack my bag the night before a swim meet. I find that I sleep so much better when I know that all I have to do in the morning is change and run out the door. Goggles, warm-up suits, race suits, caps (endless amounts of caps), clothes, jackets, and food. I have everything ready to go in my bag.

Day of the race:

  1. Get to the pool early. Nothing’s worse than stressing about being late to warm-ups or even your race. Don’t let that be the reason that you don’t swim well. I’d much rather get to the pool 15 minutes early that be running 5 minutes late, it just rattles your brain. Stretch, sleep, rest, do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
  2. Have a pump-up playlist. Some swimmers hate listening to music before a race, but I feel like (especially in the on-call room), having one earphone blasting music drowns out some of the negative thoughts around you. These are some of my must-haves on my playlist:
    • Turn Down for What- DJ Snake & Lil Jon
    • Die Young- Ke$ha
    •  Best Day of My Life- Gazzo Remix
    • Bo$$- Fifth Harmony
  3. If you are confident and excited about your race, there is no reason you shouldn’t have a good swim. When I get up to the block, there is nothing else I can do to prepare. I am confident that I have put in the work for my swim, and I am excited to finally race. Let yourself be excited, and be confident that you will swim your best. When I really stop and think about it, swimming that one race is ten times easier that what I do multiple times a day at practice. My body knows what it needs to do, and the time will be what the time needs to be.

If you have a big meet coming up, remember to stay calm and be confident! GOOD LUCK:)

The Art of Taping

Today, if you turn on the TV to watch a sports event or scroll through Facebook to see pictures from a game, you’ll see athletes with bright strips of tape on different parts of their body. This is called KT Tape (or physio/rock tape). It’s an extremely controversial method of rehab in the athletics world. There’s been a lot of research done and it’s proven that taping both works and doesn’t work. So I thought I would break it down. There has been research done to show that there is an ‘ingredient’ in the tape that pulls your skin away from your muscles, allowing an increase in oxygen and blood flow to the muscle for faster recovery and longer muscle endurance. The material used to make the tape has the same elasticity as human skin, allowing the muscle tissue to move comfortably even when taped. On the flip side, there are many people saying that they have tried KT tape and that it has never worked. For me, I’ve been using KT tape for the last 3 1/2 years, and it has been my savior. I have used it on multiple parts of my body for many different injuries including my shoulders, back and ankle. I use it the most on my shoulders since I am a swimmer and have done damage to my rotator cuffs, and I really notice the difference. Not only does it seem to prevent further injury, but when I’m swimming with the tape on, I notice that my shoulders don’t hurt as much and don’t tire as easily. The same on my back. I used it on my ankle after a really bad sprain, and it helped to stabilize my ankle and increase the amount of time I could put pressure on it. So whether it really truly works or if it just the placebo effect, I will continue to use KT Tape because it is helping my performance. As an athlete, I will do anything I possibly can to increase my muscle endurance, prevent injury, and quicken the healing process of injuries, so there is absolutely no reason any athlete out there shouldn’t give KT Tape a shot. The worse thing that could happen is nothing at all. So give it a try and let me know how it goes!

My Letter to Swimming (6 months later)

To my love,

“I hated you. I really did. I wanted nothing to do with you, but you didn’t let me get away. And I didn’t let you get away. Whether I knew it or not, I always found an excuse to crawl my way back to you. And I did it again, but this time, a little different.  You put me through the hardest time in my life, but now I know why you did it. Like always, you did it to teach me a lesson. You did it to give me a tiny little taste of what real life would be like. As hard as it was to be put through that, it was a reminder for me that nothing will get in our way. We will always, no matter what, find a way back to each other. You reminded me of the strength that lies behind one’s passion. Once aware of your passion, the opportunities are endless, and what you must do then is take it and run with it. I’m so lucky to have had you to guide me through all of this. I’m so lucky to have you by my side no matter what we’re going through, reminding me that everything will end up the way it’s meant to, and that everything will be okay. For that I will be forever in debt to you.

I thought we were over 6 months ago. I really did. I thought that our time was up and that my goggles would come off for the last time. But thank you for showing me that our time will never be over. No matter what happens from this day forward, I know that you and I will be inseparable until the day I die.”

Discovering My Passion… AGAIN!

6 months ago, if you told me that I would be back in the water, in better shape than ever and captain of the team, I would have told you you were insane. But here I am, 6 months later, and I would have been wrong. You were not insane. It was a hard time to go through. All the lying and hiding and ditching practice, I’m hoping I never go through it again. But, it changed my life forever. I hated the sport, I wanted nothing to do with the water. I couldn’t stand to be around my coaches or the pool. I distracted myself, or at least I tried to. I kept everything inside for so long, not saying anything to anyone, even my parents. But finally, that day came when I had to let it all out. I had to tell people how I was feeling. That week, the day and the week after I told my parents what happened was the hardest week of my life. I thought I would never get over it. Someone close to me helped me gain some perspective at this point. She told me to take a step back. Take a couple weeks out of the water and see where it takes you. It might take you back to the water, it might take you somewhere very different. And whichever way I went, it would be okay. I knew that I had some other passions that I never had time to pursue. I was interested in nutrition, I was passionate about body image and I wanted to help others learn how to be healthier. But what could I do about this? Well, those two weeks out of the water ended up being the most clarifying two weeks of my life. I found so many opportunities that I never would have discovered if I didn’t pull myself away from the pool. I began working on projects that I became so emotionally attached to because of how passionate I was for those things. At that point I looked at my life and thought that finding these new passions meant that I was done with swimming. The time had come and I was ready to hang up my suit one last time. Boy was I wrong. Although it was a grueling process that took a long time, I found my way back. I started swimming again simply to stay in shape. I had no desire to go the extra mile or to race, I just needed to keep my body moving. And after a 1 month break, 2 months of swimming for exercise, 2 months of swimming on my own over the summer, and 1 month of swimming with our new team (shout out to Eagle Swim Club!!), I found my passion. Was it a new passion? No. Did I always know it was my passion? Yes. So why did I think I found my new passion? Because I did. I had lost touch with the water for so long, that I had come to terms with the fact that it was over. Discovering my passion again felt like no other feeling. It was a Tuesday afternoon about 3 weeks into school, and I was on the bus home after a hard practice and this rush of happiness fled over me. I couldn’t figure out why, but now I know. It was the moment I fell in love with swimming (again!).

Thank You, USA Swimming

This week, the behavior we have seen in some of the US Olympic Swimmers has been disappointing and sad, especially for me. Some of these swimmers are people who I have looked up to for the last 8 years, and to see them ruin their image, the image of the sport, and disappoint so many has been devastating, to say the least. So in light of all this, I thought it would be very fitting to write my thank you to all of the swimmers who made their Olympic experience extremely special, not only for themselves, but also for everyone who’s supported their career.

Katie Ledecky, thank you for showing us your grace (and speed) from such a young age. You have stayed humble and composed from the young age of 15, even after rising to fame. Your races are incredible and have everybody’s eyes glued to the screen (even though we know you will win).

Maya DiRado, thank you for giving us a glimpse to your short, but amazing Olympic career. Thank you for giving us an exciting race in your 200 back, and showing us all just how excited and proud you were.

Missy Franklin, thank you for keeping that Missy smile on your face, as disappointed as you were. You have inspired so many young swimmers around the world to keep on going, no matter what obstacles you face. You showed grace and support for all of your teammates, even when you were simply watching from the stands.

Lilly King, thank you for showing the world what “Lilly King’s finger wag” is, and for reminding us the values that all swimmers should have.

Dana Vollmer, thank you for showing the world that even a “Mama on a mission” can be an olympic gold medallist. I love you!

Eizabeth Beisel, thank you for always being so proud to be representing your country, and being there for your teammates no matter what. You are the team member that every swimmer wants on their swim team.

Ryan Held, thank you for being part of that legendary 4×100 free relay team (with Dressel, Phelps, and Adrian) and getting up there on the podium with them. Thank you for showing us just how grateful you were to be representing your country on that level. And thank you for making America’s hearts melt with joy after seeing your tears while the Start Spangled Banner played.

Ryan Murphy, thank you for being humble and excited at the same time. And thank you for leading off the extremely anticipated 4×100 medley relay in with a world record in the 100 back. American won’t be able to thank you enough.

Cody Miller, thank you for showing us your extreme excitement as you touched the wall third (for a bronze medal) in the 100 breast. It has been a long time since we’ve seen someone react not with disappointment, but with extreme joy to a bronze medal win. Very much deserved!

Tony Ervin, thank you for bringing me the most exciting race with your 50 free gold medal win. My whole family was on their feet, jumping up and down screaming for those 26 seconds, and the race ended with my sister and I in tears. You are by far the most inspirational swimmer to me, and continue to impress the world proving that you are never too old to win an Olympic gold medal.

And finally…

Michael Phelps, thank you for all the things I don’t have enough time to list. Thank you for starting from the young age of 15, and only getting better as time goes on. You have proved so many times that you are the GOAT, and will always be. Thank you for showing the joy you have when you win your medals (28!!), and for understanding that it’s a privilege to represent the US. Thank you for retiring, and then proving how strong the bond between the swimmer and the pool is by returning to the sport. Thank you for making us all scream, cheer and cry during each and every one of your races. Thank you for showing your emotion every time you get up on the podium, and for recognizing everyone who has helped you get to where you are. Thank you for tying for silver  with Czeh and Le Clos in the 100 fly, and being nothing but excited to see Joseph Schooling pave the way for where the sport will go. You have changed the sport in a way no other athlete will affect any sport. MP, thank you for everything you’ve done for the sport, and for going out with the biggest bang ever!

 

My Letter to Swimming

To my love,

“For most people, the first moment they fell in love was with a person. Perhaps their high school sweetheart or college boyfriend, but it was with a person. Not for me. I fell in love at a much younger age, and it wasn’t with a person, it was with you. You became a place of instant comfort, something so similar, yet so different. You were intriguing and mysterious. From the time I was a young 5 year old, you taught me grace, humility, and confidence. I didn’t learn to love you, I simply fell in love with you. That love lead to years and years of dedication and commitment, and I would have never learnt those things if it wasn’t for you. You showed me kindness when I wasn’t kind back. You showed me forgiveness when I didn’t deserve it. You taught me what it means to work hard for something you want. I’ve felt a rainbow of emotions because of you. Nerves come before every race, no matter how many times I’ve swam at a meet. Hatred came during every practice when we did those grueling 400’s. And joy came every single day when I pulled out my swimsuit and goggles to get ready for practice. You gave me the most meaningful friends I will ever make. You gave me coaches that cared so much about me and knew me better than I knew myself. I thought that our time was up, I thought our time together only existed in distant memories memories, but because of everything you’ve showed me, I know our time is not up, and it might never be over. We still have years and years to come, and no matter what form that comes in, you will always be my first true love. But if the time does come when I’m ready to hang up my suit for the last time, I want you to know that you will forever and always be a part of me. Thank you for making me the person I am today, and for all the memories we’ve made, are making, and will make.”

The Power of the Team

As an athlete, I believe that one of the most important aspects of any sport is the camaraderie formed between teammates. I have been extremely fortunate to have such an amazing team that I have trained with, raced with, and grown up with for the last 12 years. I met one of my closest friends, Kaitlyn, when I was 4 years old (through swimming), and it has grown into one of the most valuable friendships I have ever had. Every single day at practice, whether we’re talking to each other or not, we are pushing each other on, we are cheering for the other person, and we are always there when the other one falls down. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the swimmer or person I am today if it wasn’t for my teammates. So many people ask me how I am so close with my teammates, even though swimming is an individual sport. I always answer that ‘because swimming is an individual sport, we form an even tighter bond’. I know that may sound weird, and maybe you have to be a swimmer to understand it, but simply being surrounded by all these people for so many hours a day creates an unbreakable bond. Waking up for the grueling 5:30 morning practices, and just barely surviving the 3-hour afternoon practice, we literally swim through the sunrises and sunsets together. We’re there to push each other, to race each other, but also to comfort each other. We’re there to cheer each other on during that killer 400IM or 200 fly, to celebrate with them when they’ve won a race, but also to just be there for them when they’re crying after a bad race. Even though swimming is not a ‘team sport’, I would say that a swimmers’ teammates is the most valuable thing they have. I know that my teammates are the ones who drive me to swim faster every set, or to do that extra 100 fly, and I am beyond grateful for them.

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I decided to step outside my little swim world for a bit and do a bit of research on how working out with other people can be beneficial. I became a leader for an after school workout session at my High School, and I began ‘Flight Club’ (agility work) a couple months ago. I quickly learned that working out (in my experience), is the best way to grow friendships. After talking with High School PE teacher, basketball coach and Flight Club Coach Scott Mackinnon, and High School Junior and basketball and softball player, Sydney Pieske, I was able to gain more insight as to how working out in a group can benefit your workout, as well as form bonds (check the video below to see their interviews!). When you’re working out by yourself, the only person to push you is you. As soon as you start to get tired or unmotivated, it’s extremely hard for you to pick yourself back up. If there are other people around you, they’re able to motivate you, even when you’re starting to feel like you can’t do it anymore. It becomes so much easier when you know that other people care about you and want to see you succeed. When someone else is there, it makes working out physically and mentally easier. Also, working out with a group of people is just so much more fun! You can turn everything around just by being around other people. Instead of quietly just sitting to the side because your starting to get sore and tired, complain about it with your friends and turn it into something you can talk about. Instead of skipping the last rep because you’re too tired, turn it into a competition with a friend to see who can lift the most or do the most reps. There are so many ways that you can improve your workouts, simply by having someone there. So go grab a friend and hit the gym! “Friends who work out together, stay together.” –I totally made this up;)

Click here to watch –> Interviews

Goggles, A Swimsuit and a Dream

The rippling, aquamarine water laid ahead of me waiting for someone to dive in and make a splash. My Arena Lzr Elite was bandaged around my body, my Speedo goggles squeezed my head, and my EAGLES cap kept my hair tight. I performed my pre-race routine, ending with 2 jumps to get pumped. I looked down at the end of my lane to see everyone pouring into the pool deck and gathering around the end of my lane. For most swimmers, this was just another meet, but for me, this one was different. I had to succeed to prove to my coach and myself that everything I had done up had paid off. I looked up to see Coach standing in the bleachers as he looked down and yelled, “let’s go lil’ Fukada! 2:38.6, that’s all you need!”. Seeing his excitement reminded me that I owed this race to him. I looked back down at the end of my lane with a stomach full of butterflies. The starter approached the horn and there was one long *BEEP*.

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I rose to the block, stretching my shoulders and back one last time. “Swimmers, take your mark”, the starter announced in his heavy tone. I grasped the rough block, and pulled back through my lats and triceps. *BEEP!*, the starter blasted the horn as I pulled my arms into a tight streamline, kicking off as hard as I could. There was nothing I could change at this point. I had done all the work and now it was time for my 200 meter butterfly; it was me against the clock. The second I hit the water, everything around me froze. The cheers from the crowds became distant muffled sounds. The deck crowded with over-excited moms became nothing but the grey-tiled ground. All but two things had disappeared; the sight of my competitors ahead of me, and Coaches signature, “GO! Catch ‘er!”. As I came to the turn of my first 25m, I saw the girl 2 lanes down push off slightly ahead of me. I knew my strength was my fast last 75m, and I knew I couldn’t let myself go out too fast. As I approached the turn at the 50m mark, my body began to fatigue. With 150 meters to go, I relaxed my stroke and pace for the next 50m. At the next turn, I was neck-in-neck with the girl 2 lanes down from me, as I felt myself begin to die. My shoulders were numb but also screaming in pain, my lungs felt as if they were being filled with toxic gasses, and my legs felt like they were being torn off by a shark. In most other races, I would have given up and let the clock beat me, but not this time. This time was different. At my next turn, Coach yelled, “Come On! GO!”. Hearing the anxiety in his voice only pushed me more. I had a decision to make, and I had about half a second to make it. I was either going to give up and fail my goal once again, or I could put all the pain aside and push myself to my very limit.

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I knew the only choice I had was to push through for Coach. Thinking back to the first time I walked onto the pool deck to be greeted by an enthusiastic Coach, and knowing that there was no other sport I wanted to play. Thinking back to the many times that I got out after a race with tears of disappointment and seeing it in his face as well. I remembered the killer 2,500m butterfly sets that made me cry, the ridiculously early morning practices before school, and the 200 squat challenge that impaired me of walking for days, but it was all because he cared. He who had woken up extremely early on Saturdays to drive to practice, he who had spent hours writing our practices for the next week, he who spent countless weekends at swim meets with us, he who had made me cry hundreds of times, but only because he cared about how I did, and most of all, he who had believed in me when I hadn’t believed in myself. He made me the swimmer I am today, and I was not going to let him down, and I was ready to prove that all of my hard work, all of HIS hard work, had paid off.

I breathed to see that my opponent was a mere fingernail ahead of me. I blasted through the last 75m; my arms windmill-like, my kick dolphin-like, and my determination like a bear hunting it’s prey. I began to edge ahead. First it was a fingernail, then it was half a body length then a full body length. At my last turn, I saw my family and all of my teammates at the end of my lane cheering for me as loud as possible, and I heard Coaches excited cheer as I neared the wall. 5 more strokes, now 4, 3, 2, and1. I flung my arms around jamming my fingers into the wall. Without even taking a second to breathe, I spun around to look at the scoreboard. I ripped off my cap and goggles waiting for my time. The scoreboard flickered, then in bright numbers read, 2:32.94! Everyone erupted in “Woo!”s and “Yeah Aime!”. I threw my hand over my mouth in disbelief, and as soon as everyone finished I jumped out of the pool.

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I ran over to my teammates and parents as they all swarmed me with “congratulations!” and hugs. The tears continued as my parents told me how proud they were. “Little Aime Fukada!”, Coach exclaimed walking through, “Woo! 2:32.94”. I looked up at him teary eyed, not knowing what to say as he gave me a hug. Thinking of the times he yelled at me for not trying hard enough, the countless weight sessions, the hundreds of times he had made me laugh until I peed my pants, and the times that he looked me in the eye and told me he believed in me. Through blood, sweat, and tears, we had been through it all together. I was, am, and will be eternally grateful that Coach inspired me, pushed me and allowed me to live out my dreams. I looked up at him, choking on my tears, “Thank you! This was all you.”

Butterfly or Butterdie?

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One of my favorite swim quotes ever is “The stages of a 200fly: Butterfly, Buttertry, Butterwhy, Buttercry, Butterdie”. I love this quote because it is hilarious, but also 110% true. All of my swim buddies think that I’m crazy for wanting to swim the 200fly at a meet, or not minding doing a 2.5k fly set in practice, and sometimes I think I’m crazy too! Here’s what I’ve realized about the 200fly; after the first 100m, your arms are hurting so bad that they become numb and you can’t even feel them anymore. At that point, all you need to do is move your arms in circular motions (which you are an expert at) and try to move through the water as quickly as possible. You don’t even need to think about what your arms feel like until later. After the race finishes, you will be so excited that you did well (hopefully) and that you finished! When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head. So here’s my point: a lot of people think that a 200fly is super long and really hard. Well it is really hard, but at the end of the day the 1st 100 is painful, but after that you feel so dead and numb everywhere that you can’t even feel the pain anymore. For all you swimmer’s out there who are terrified of the 200fly, maybe you should try it! And who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with it like I did!