Leadville’s Personal Stake in the Olympic Pool
Tonight millions of people around the world will tune in to watch the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic games, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (local time) on NBC’s Channel 9News. There will be a multitude of cheers from living rooms across America, as the USA athletes make their way into the Olympic Stadium. Go Team USA!
But for some in Leadville, the applause might not be 100% behind their own countrymen and women. In fact, loyalties could be easily split when it comes time for the swimming competition. And it’s not because locals aren’t interested in rallying behind the likes of Michael Phelleps and Ryan Lochte. But rather due to the fact that over the past year, the Lake County community has gotten to know some Olympic competitors from Denmark, Tunisia and Spain on a first name basis. Afterall, when world class swimmers train in your “backyard” pool, it’s hard not to get to know them, like them, and yes, wish them well, even while competing against Olympic athletes from the United States.
Swimmers representing the countries of Denmark, Tunisia and Spain, along with their 7 time Olympic coach Paulus Wildeboer have been coming to the highest city in North America to give themselves the edge that the Lake County Aquatic Center provides: altitude! These European competitors traveled to Leadville several times in the past year to take advantage of some high altitude training before heading off to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London to take on the world!
And the Leadville community quickly discovered that like their American heroes, this group of elite athletes proved generous with their time and talents by providing swimming exhibitions in the small, intimate setting of the Leadville pool. The group demonstrated swimming techniques, shared training sessions and showed the mental toughness worthy of world class athletes.
For those who had the opportunity to attend these exhibitions at the Lake County Aquatic Center, it’ll be hard not to cheer on these worthy European contenders. But for those who missed that chance, here is a compilation of video interviews that not only highlight these Olympic-bound swimmers, but also the world-class, high-altitude training town of Leadville, Colorado. Enjoy! And Good Luck to our new found European friends and Olympic competitors!
May 2012 – Coach Paulus Wildeboer Introduces Swimmers & Coaches
October 2011 – Training Video with Coach Paulus Wildeboer
Swimmer Pal Joensen of Faroe Islands Hailed as Hometown Hero
No doubt, Pal Joensen has a riveting story. Coming from the Faroe Islands, his odds of becoming one of the best swimmers in the world were not in his favor. But dreams do come true. This one’s for all the small town Leadville boys and girls with big dreams!
Former Rec. Coordinator Larry “Altitude Dad” Colley
Former Lake County Recreation Coordinator Larry Colley was instrumental in bringing these European swimmers and coaches to train at the Lake County Aqautic Center and making sure that they WANTED to return! In this video interview by Danish Olympic Swimmer Rikke Møller Pedersen, you can clearly see the affection that developed between Larry and his new European friends, as they dubbed him their “Altitude Dad”. Thanks for representing Leadville and Lake County so graciously, Larry. You exemplify the true Olympic spirit!