Inspiration from 2008 Olympian and Silver Medalist Emily Silver

Emily Silver (on Twitter @Emily_Silver) never says quit. It is just not in her vocabulary!

At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Silver earned a silver medal swimming in the heats of the 4×100 m freestyle.  But little did she know it was a long painful journey to reach the pool deck on that day.

Her story of hurdling adversity, like many of us, are filled with highs, lows and everything in between.

You see, after Emily qualified for Beijing in the 100m freestyle and secured a spot on the 4x100m relay at the U.S. Swim Trials she was confronted with a choice. Should she scratch from 50m Freestyle  which was her next event?  She already had accomplished her Olympic dream. A dream that began when she was only 7 years old.  Her finish in the 100 Freestyle had placed her on the team.  Or should she just go ahead and swim it.

She basked in the solace of knowing that her dream had just been realized.  Yet, there was still one more race to go.

Her coach thought that she should swim the 50 meters. After all she did make the qualifying standard and therefore earned a lane in the 50m Prelims

Emily’s final decision was to move forward and swim the 50m Free.

She lined up in her lane for the big race!

2008 Prelims 50m Freestyle

“5o meter Freestyle… Step Up” the starters voice cracked through the still air of the natatorium.

It was the 12 heat of 12 in the Omaha indoor pool.

The 50m freestyle is just a pure sprint.  Like the 100m in track and field, the winner of this race gets bragging rights as the fastest swimmer in the United States.

Emil y stepped up the short ladder to the starting block and shook her arms free.  She adjusted her goggles one last time.  She was in the lane 3 just next  Dara Torres in lane 4 who would later become the oldest swimmer in U.S. History to compete for the Olympic Team.

“Take your mark.” The voice of the starter was low and matter of fact.

She bent over and grabbed the front of the block below her allowing herself to rock slightly backward in order to position herself properly to rocket into the pool.

“Beep” the tone went off an Emily sprung from the platform.  Her lean and muscular 5’11” frame broke the water surface and she slipped below in a perfect streamline (a swimmer’s body position which allows such a shape for moving through the water with the least amount of resistance) and resurfaced with a thunderous kick  while symmetrically churning her arms in rhythmic cadence as she drew near to the end of race.

When she touched the wall with her hand, she looked up and saw that she was in the top of the field and would advance to the semi finals.  She had finished 12th and was 1.07 sec behind Lara Jackson who was the fastest qualifier posting an American Record in the process.

2008 Semi-Finals 50m Freestyle

In the semi’s Emily drew lane one.

The same sequence happened in the semi’s.  The starter called the ladies to their mark and when all were ready, he commanded set, and then the tone sounded.

Emily again went smooth into the water and churned a wake as if she had an outboard motor strapped to the end of her feet.  She pressed herself to make it to the finals. Maybe this would be the day!

She neared the wall and pressed her body forward, head down, goggles down, hand outstretched for the touch against the timing pad!  She extended and when her hand hit the wall she felt excruciating pain.

She had not qualified for the finals.  She finished 12th overall.

She was rushed to the doctors off and told the worst possible news.  She touched the wall on her finish in such a way that her hand broke in two places.

What goes through a persons mind.

She just had the highest of highs making the Olympic Team on the 4x100m Fr Relay.  Her dream realized!  And now, devastation. With just a few short months before the games she has a broken hand.

What did she do?

Well I caught up with this remarkable young lady at Reach the Peak, a program sponsored by the United States Olympic Committee to help potential athletes prepare for the next games, and got her perspective on what she did to get herself ready for the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing after breaking her hand.

Take a listen to our quick 3:00 min interview to hear the rest of the story!

Enjoy the clip