Monday September 13, 2010Florida Swimmer Gemma Spofforth Blogs About White House Trip
University of Florida 2009-10 senior All-American, NCAA Champion, World and NCAA Record Holder and British Olympian Gemma Spofforth shares her blog entry for Monday’s visit to the White House. Thirty-three NCAA National Championship teams were recognized in a ceremony with President Barack Obama Monday evening, including Florida’s 2010 Women’s Swimming & Diving National Champions and UF’s 2010 Men’s Indoor Track & Field National Champions. For more on Spofforth and the Gators’ trip to Washington D.C., visit http://twitter.com/GatorZoneSwimDv
Monday, September 13, 2010
Fourteen University of Florida Swimming and Diving NCAA Champions arrive at the pool at 7:30am, dressed unusually in dresses or skirts. My face in makeup, my hair straight and carrying one small handbag; the experience is already surreal with no wet hair or swim suits to be seen.
The combination of the early morning with no practice and anticipation of what will unfold during the hours ahead generates emotions of elation.
Each member of my team exclaimed a statement along the lines of: "What is going on? Is this really happening?!"
We take a very short bus trip, shared with the Men's Indoor Track and Field 2010 NCAA Championship team, to the Gainesville Regional Airport to board a charter plane with coaches, coaches' children, staff and the team that will forever be known as the 2010 National Championship team.
--Still, six months later, this title sends shivers down my spine. Winning a national championship with a team of my closest friends, alone, rivals my World Record in Rome for most memorable moment of my life; but this, today, tops off the experience like the icing on a cake.--
After an hour and a half plane journey to Washington D.C., we walk a full 10 steps to the bus, impressive door-to-door service, feeling an intense celebrity status for the day. Arriving at Old Ebbitt Grill for a beef burger and chicken burger lunch, enjoying effortless chitchat with our amazingly motivated and prideful team.
A beautiful cloudless sky emphasized the monuments and memorials as they sparkled in the sun. From the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson Memorial to the Washington Monument, we took a glorious stroll around to tourist the sites in what can only be described as a perfectly sunny day with a frozen lemonade in hand.
Finally we arrive at the White House, the most beautiful scenery for a team picture - waiting in the garden eating chocolate-chip cookies and drinking lemonade as the sun beat down on the most surreal experience.
Obama came up to the podium as a full crowd of National Champions stood eagerly waiting to hear him speak.
After his speech he came up to some of us individually and shook some hands. I was lucky enough to get a handshake and a "what team are you from?" question. As a star-struck handshake and a "University of Florida swimming team" answer escaped me, the crowd of people I had only just met surrounded me, all vying for a handshake.
After a fantastic day, we traveled home with the same stardom feel as we had arrived - all exhausted from standing and emotions fulfilling my experience as a Florida Gator and emphasizing the pride I have to be a part of this amazing atmosphere of Gator Athletics.