Ariana Kukors broke the world record in the 200-meter individual medley in 2009 with a 2:06.15 mark that no one has beaten since. She has won seven swimming medals in major international competitions. And yet at the U.S. Olympic team trials this past week in Omaha, she was such a puddle of nerves that in the hours leading up to her race, her younger sister had to lie with her in bed, rubbing her back and trying to calm her down. On Wednesday night, Kukors said, "she fell asleep holding my hand."
The next day, Kukors finished second in that 200 IM, stamping her ticket for London. When she got out of the pool, she ran over to her sister and mom, and the three of them dissolved into a sobbing, heaving group hug. You could see the family resemblance in their twisted-up faces.