I Still Want a Selfie

By Luisa Simpao // Mosaic Journalism Workshop 

I woke up on Friday morning with tired eyes and heavy-feeling limbs. Sure, I’d beat my alarm clock to waking me up, but the anti-allergy medicine I took the previous night knocked me out within fifteen minutes of taking it. As soon as I’d washed my face and gotten a bagel into my system, putting on sunscreen then, I was pumped.

I was headed to the George F. Haines International Swim Center for the ARENA Grand Prix. I was going to interview Missy Franklin. I might run into Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin, and so may other swimming greats.

As a swimmer, I was excited as we entered, coming in to the meet after receiving our press passes to see the first heat of the Women’s 100 Freestyle up. I definitely couldn’t compare myself to any of them–their swimming level being one I can only dream of and admire–but seeing them up close and occasionally running into them was amazing.

After Missy Franklin swam (and won) her 100 Freestyle, I screamed internally as she walked by us. More internal screaming ensued when the whole Cal girls team, including Missy, decided to sit at the benches ten feet away from us. We continued to watch the races, screaming internally (again) during the 100 Free as Nathan Adrian, Conor Dwyer, Michael Phelps, and Anthony Ervin, took one to four, respectively.

The other events seemed long to me, as the 400 Free and 200 Breast were not events that I swim (and took longer than two laps), but when the 100 Fly came on, I was, again, very excited. Iris and I rushed to Lane 5 during the final heat, she taking pictures as we watched Phelps place first in the event with a 52.57.

We interviewed Missy Franklin after she’d warmed down following her 100 Fly. She was so nice and seemed to be absolutely enjoying herself. When she answered my question, she looked directly at me (!!!!), and I was stunned but still took down my reporter notes.

We returned for finals later that day, with Enya and Jacinta, who had covered Michael Phelps’ interview the day before. Again, the experience of being around so many amazing swimmers and watching them compete seemed absolutely unreal, but–ah, it gets better.

As Enya and I were walking around, trying to find swimmers to interview, I spotted Nathan Adrian at the tent, where I had interviewed Missy Franklin earlier that day.

I got to talk to Nathan Adrian.

I shook Nathan Adrian’s hand.

I met Mel Stewart and interviewed him, too–he was so friendly and just really chill–I followed him on Twitter afterward!

Yesterday will definitely be a day I will not forget.

Even though my feet are still sore from standing by the pool and taking the walking tour of San Jose’s nightlife.

And I was, of course, allowed neither selfies nor autographs but…

Yesterday was absolutely amazing.

Just a Normal Guy

By Enya Kuo // Mosaic Staff Writer 

I was shocked to see that he didn’t come in with sparkles in the background and confetti falling around him and trumpet fanfare announcing his entrance. I gestured wildly in his direction, but I didn’t want him to hear me squeal, “He’s here! He’s here!”

Michael Phelps sat. Bob Bowman sat. I sat, but I wanted to jump up and shriek, “It’s Michael Phelps!”

He wore a gray t-shirt. Neon shorts. Slightly messy brown curls peeking out beneath his blue cap. He was so…normal. What?

The other reporters started asking him questions, and I was feverishly debating whether I should take notes or watch him talk, with his slight lisp, his big hands lying on the table, his even bigger shoulders, his slight lean toward the mic. I tried to do both.

It’s Michael Phelps!

The reporters started ignoring poor John Martin, who was in charge of the press conference, and started jumping in with their own questions. I should jump in too. Push back, like Sean Webby said. Okay. Okay.

“Uh, Michael,” I piped up, “when you’re swimming longer sets, what do you think about?”

“Nothing,” he said. “Sometimes it’s brutal how painful it is, or ‘Why is he making us do this?’ but

I guess now I do think more of stroke, about how my technique is because it is challenging for me to get everything back. It’s coming back slowly, but I really don’t think about much when I’m training.”

I TALKED TO MICHAEL PHELPS!

It was a happy day.