First off, I want to thank everyone so much for all the support I've been receiving, even from people I've never met before! I just got back from Vegas for the U.S. Opens, and I can't tell you how great it was to be in our home country for such a send-off. It was our last showing in America before we leave for London, and we got some great feedback!
It's literally a dream come true. I feel like it wasn't that long ago when I was looking up to the 2004 Olympic team, watching in awe as they performed before leaving for Athens. I wanted to be just like them! How they moved, how they looked ... it was all so amazing to me. I remembering waiting in line to get a picture with them, or to get something signed, and being so excited to meet them! What's so surreal to me is that's what I am to these girls now. Mariya (Koroleva) and I have worked so hard in order to get to where we are, and it's finally hitting me what kind of an inspiration I actually am to some of these girls! I received an amazing e-mail from a girl who swims for Cincinnati, and I've been able to give her some advice on synchro. She's one of so many out there who have such a passion for the sport at a young age. I hope it keeps going! Mariya and I handed out awards at the end of the competition, and it was nice to see everyone. A few of the girls I know personally, which is even better! I love talking to all the girls and watching them swim and grow. It makes all the hard work we do every day worth it just that much more!
I also got the chance to meet one of my brother's wife's family. It was so nice to see some family (even through marriage!) in the crowd supporting me. My parents couldn't be in Vegas, but that's OK. They'll be cheering me on in person at the Games in London where I need them the most! It's finally sinking in that I'm going to the Olympics, but I don't think it'll fully hit me 'til I'm at Opening Ceremonies. I plan on making the best out of this experience and I just can't wait!
On another note, while we were in Vegas, Mariya and I got the opportunity to go see both "O" at the Bellagio, and "Le Reve" at Wynn! Both Cirque shows are absolutely amazing and I happen to know people who perform in both, which makes it even more cool! Some of the things these performers do is crazy, surreal, awesome, dangerous, freaky and even kind of funny at times, and it keeps you engaged the entire time. My eyes didn't stop moving the entire show; not only did the characters being showcased have their moment, but the surrounding performers did as well. Each one had a story that they held and a character that they became. It's a whole new level of artistry that absolutely is astounding. I would highly recommend anyone who is able to go see these shows. For those of you synchro fans out there, watch out for some of the performers - even in crazy makeup you may recognize a few! For those of you synchro newbies, go see them anyway. There are acrobats, contortionists and amazing dancers, and it's plain entertaining!
Well, that's all for now, but stick around! I'll be updating more often now that's it closer to the Games! We leave in nine days for London, and Opening Ceremonies are in 12 days. Our first competition is just 21 days away! The excitement is building every day, and so is my determination to do everything I can in order to be the best representative of my sport and my country at the 2012 Olympic Games! Wish me luck!