CREDOS: Spiritual quest — I

My teammates and I had just finished cranking out a 9,000-yard workout in the pool in Gainesville, Fla., and were settling into a couple of pizzas. I was reaching for the largest slice when we heard the official news: the US would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. We were not going.

I was 19 years old and nearing the top of my swimming career. Though the news of our government’s decision wasn’t a total surprise the finality hit hard. For eight years, I’d spent four hours daily in the pool, run miles upon miles, lifted hundreds of pounds of weights and endured tortures that would get a coach fired for cruelty today. Yet my future came down to events out of my control. Remember, in 1980 there was no money to be made in competitive swimming. Going to the Olympic Games was the ultimate goal.

I had to search deeply to make sense of it all. For some swimmers, it was too difficult to comprehend, and they took a hiatus from the sport. For me, the boycott became a catalyst for my spiritual quest. I had to find higher meaning in sport itself-not just in the competition and glory. Prior to this, I never gave it much thought beyond the fun I had with my friends.

Today, as I watch a fresh crop of Olympians prepare for this year’s Winter

Games, I sense their energy and spirit — their very life force. Just look at the flow of power that emanates from snowboarder Shaun White, skater Michelle Kwan, or skier Bode Miller — it’s amazing. —