Last night I had the great opportunity to attend the Rehabilitation Institute Of Michigan Foundation Gala. I was one of 5 Recipients of the Nicholas John Yaksich Scholarship. It was such a stellar night at the Fox Theatre in Downtown Detroit. There were so many great awards presented to so many courageous people and It was a true honor to be amongst their company. It is such a great Gala for the fact that it is a chase for people to donate money to the RIM foundation that helps people around the community with coping with their disabilities and their everyday lives.
Tucker Dupree is 25 years old, visually impaired athlete who has excelled in the sport of swimming. Tucker lost his vision at age 17 when he was diagnosed with a rare disease called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON).
Tucker, a gold medalist and world record holder, is one of the top blind swimmers in America holding a World Record in the 50m and 100m Butterfly, 43 American Records and 9 Pan-American Records. Tucker represented Team USA in the 2008 Beijing and the 2012 London Paralympic Games. At the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Tucker brought home a Silver Medal in the 100 Meter Backstroke and Bronze Medals in the 50 Meter Freestyle and 100 Meter Freestyle.
Tucker continues to inspire everyone with his positive attitude and outlook on life. He is very determined who focuses on his ability and not his disability as he strives to achieve his goals.
Making the decision to go back to school after the London games was something I didn’t know how I was going to balance training and making good grades. I got the great opportunity to use the partnership with the USOC and DeVry University. I have been really pleased with how great the online program works out with my traveling and swimming. It has such great flexibility and if there is Wi-Fi I am good to go. I am very excited to write about how I just got notification of making the Dean’s list this past semester. I had a 4.0 grade point average. I am heading in this same direction this semester as well. It is so nice to be back in school with a focus as a Communications major and a minor in emerging technology. Now I can travel the world and finish school in the process.
Seeing all of the commercials for this year’s winter Olympics in Sochi Russia, really makes me think of 2012. How hard I had to work the 4 years leading up to the games, moving from Colorado to Michigan, and just going to the games and unleashing the fury. I am so excited to see the USA show what they all have worked so hard for the past 4 years and put on a great show for the whole world to see. Shout out to all of the 2014 team USA, as you get ready for the fun to unravel this weekend. Let’s go get the most hardware that we can.
Training is going great right now. I am really trying to get the body up and ready for a very jammed packed year of fast racing and travelling. In the next 4 months I will be in Miami Florida, Glasgow Scotland, Berlin Germany, Cincinnati Ohio, and that is just leading into the summer. At this point of my season it is just pushing my body to the limit. That way when I am living out of a suitcase for 4 months, my body is ready to race fast and enjoy doing it. Hopefully when I get to December, I will be able to look at the base I have put down this whole year and be ready to set up a great next 2 years going into 2015.
It was awesome getting to speak to Miss Nelson’s class a couple weeks ago. I wish I could have done this in person, but my schedule isn’t always flexible with school and training. I have known Miss Nelson since 2009 and swam with her over a summer in North Carolina and she reached out to me to talk and share my story with her class. I got a HUGE envelope from her last week full of great thank you cards with great illustrations of medals and swimming pools. Thanks for the cards and the opportunity to peak to all of you guys. Don’t let Miss Nelson be too mean to you guys, if she is let me know!
I had the great pleasure of speaking to the 4th grade class at Bailey Lake Elementary for their Disability Awareness Day. I put together some great pictures to show the kids I am just like they are on the outside and grew up the same path of a 4th grader all the way up to the age of 17. I got the opportunity to answer some great questions and hopefully show them just how much you can do if you chase your dreams. It was nice to be able to talk to them one-on-one and sign autographs after speaking as well. A great group of kids and lots of fun to educate and inspire.
On Thursday, October 24, I got the great opportunity to be a part of a great night that recognizes courage, perseverance and athletes showcasing their abilities and not their disabilities. I was a 3 time returning alumni from my 2011 induction into the Hall of Fame. It was a great night to reconnect with several friends that I know through the Paralympics and seeing new up and coming talent. The event was held a place called – Sound Board the Motor City Casino, a Four Diamond Award-Winning venue in downtown Detroit. The venue was a great backdrop for the wonderful event, but also made the inductee’s feel the in the lime light for honoring their successes and talents. It was an honor to share this night with friends and seeing familiar faces of the disabled communities here in Michigan.
It’s been nice being able to ease back into the pool after my performance at World Championships this past summer. The past two months have been great and now it time to get back to work and prepare my body for the upcoming season. This past weekend I got the opportunity to dust the dust off the racing suits and see where I am in my training and compete in a local Oakland Live Wires Swim Meet. Although I didn’t break any records, it was nice to try out some different race strategies as well as a new type of shoulder driven freestyle. It was promising and I am ready for more training and getting into the racing season.
World Championships were held August 11-17 in Montreal, Canada. The team arrived on Thursday, August 8 and started to compete the following Monday, August 12. It was nice to arrive early to see how the flow of transportation and going back-and-forth to the pool would work to get in a rhythm before completion started. I swam the 100 meter freestyle on Monday coming in fourth place with a pretty pleasing time. I swam the next day, Tuesday, August 13 with the 100 meter butterfly and swimming with a horrible finish of 7th place. I luckily had Wednesday off in order to rest before my next race on Thursday which was the 50 meter freestyle. I started to get in my rhythm and finally walked away from a race that Thursday with a bronze medal. I had Friday off which was much needed going into my silver medal event from the 2012 London games, the 100 meter backstroke. I raced the same people as I did at the London games and I got touched out by .03 this year from the gold, receiving the silver medal as well as setting a new American record. I was pretty happy all in all with how I swam and was proud to represent and complete for the United States of America one more time.
The United States Paralympic World Championship team placed fourth in the overall medal count. It is always a true honor to wear our countries colors and represent the United States and compete against some of the best disabled athletes in the world.
World Championships 2013
This was a short and sweet trip. After a long week of being the IT guy at Pete Hovlands swim camp ending on Thursday, I had to wake up at 4am and head to the airport Friday morning. Cheryl Angelelli and I landed into Denver at 8am. A close friend of mine picked us up and we made our way to the Colorado Springs. After going to the pool and seeing lots of teammates, we went downtown to one of my favorite restraints in downtown Colorado Springs. After a super long day with the time change and homework done my head finally hit the pillow at 10pm mountain time.
In the morning we headed to the pool at 7am. After warming up and feeling the 6,000 feet above sea level burning my lungs, I was ready for the meet to start. Sam and Lauren Flowers opened the meet with two very heart-warming speeches about how much this meet meant to them and how carrying on their dad’s legacy, then the first heat was sent off. I swam the 50 meter freestyle and the 100 meter backstroke. There was a new swimmer in my classification in the 50 meter freestyle. He was seated a head of me by a second. After his attempt to beat me he touched the wall a solid 1.5 seconds after me. I also had a great 100 meter backstroke as well. After my 100 meter backstroke I got the great opportunity to be tagged by USADA. I gave my sample and made my way to the Olympic gift shop. After taking a couple pictures with some fans, who found out Cheryl Angelelli, Jessica Long and I were all medalist, we got into the car to head to the airport. After my 36 hour trip, it’s back to Michigan to start the next rounds of Pete Hovlands swim camps. Wish me luck.
In April, I was very excited to be a part of the 6th Annual Governor’s Fitness Awards.
It was an honor to be recognized along with other Olympic and Paralympic athletes, individuals and organizations from Michigan that encourage others to make healthy choices by teaching, volunteering, role modeling or other community involvement.
The Governor’s Fitness Awards serve as a platform for inspirational individuals and organizations for their pursuit, commitment and dedication to healthy lifestyles. Each award recognizes the many different ways the winners are inspiring and influencing Michigan residents to live a healthy lifestyle.
The purpose of the Governor’s Fitness Awards event serves as a platform of appreciation and public recognition for these deserving citizens as well as a fundraiser for the Michigan Fitness Foundation.
It’s events like this that helps me reflect in my healthy choices and my commitment to fitness every day. Also seeing a couple of familiar faces and having others recognize us for our accomplishments is always such a great humbling experience.
So get smart about your food choices and commit to exercising each day and you too can lead healthy lifestyle.
Governor’s Fitness Awards