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Guest column by Pam Roberts and Rebecca Noblett
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 27. I have a great group of friends. No way around it, no debate necessary. My girls are the best. They're named Becca, Brandy, Jessica and Tina. We talk every day, about everything. We are all swimming fans too. So of course, with Trials being in full swing, we watch those as well and keep each other updated on races some of us can't watch due to work.
But there is a twist to our friendship. None of us live in the same city. Becca is from Atlanta, Brandy lives in Nashville, Jessica in Jacksonville, Tina in Hawaii and I live in Germany. We are spread throughout 12 time zones. And yet, I talk to them more than I talk to people who live in the same city as I do.
We met like many other people do these days - on the Internet. The girls all knew each other before I joined the bunch in what was probably the easiest of all ways -- by clicking a button on the computer.
Becca and I met on Tumblr. Even right after the Olympics, the swimming fandom was relatively small, so you tend to stumble over the same people. I looked through her blog a little before I decided to follow her. And I have not regretted that decision since.
We quickly started writing messages back and forth, talking not just about swimming, but also about personal stuff and other things we like. One thing led to another and we also started to follow each other on Twitter and somehow, that set off what I tend to describe as an avalanche of many people from all over the world and in the midst of that, I became friends with Brandy, Jess and Tina too.
As I've said, we are all connected by our love for swimming and swimmers. Ever since the Olympics, we have watched every Grand Prix meet together. Our common favorite is Ryan Lochte, but we all have individual favorites as well. Brandy, Becca, Tina and Jess all pop into my head when I hear that Pedro Oliveira is swimming a race, I know Becca pays extra attention to Natalie Coughlin and Elizabeth Beisel and she and Brandy like Conor Dwyer and Brandy likes Cullen Jones, Tina is the one I think of when Nathan Adrian swims and Jess and I share our appreciation for Anthony Ervin. And I know that they probably all think of me when someone mentions Aaron Peirsol or Katie Hoff.
Swimming connects us. We all swim as well. Not on any form of competitive level, but more to stay in shape. We keep each other updated on our progress and we give each other advice and share links to teaching videos on YouTube. I know that the girls will be with me in spirit when I'm at the World Championships in Barcelona. Not physically, but in spirit. In the same way as I was with them when they went to this year's Charlotte Ultraswim.
Of course we are all planning to eventually meet in person as well. It's not easy, but we're determined to all make it to the Ultraswim in Charlotte next year. If you're there, we'll be the five girls who probably won't stop smiling, as you do when you're hanging out with your best friends.
Our friendship even goes far enough that one person telling you about us isn't enough. So let's hear Becca's side of the story, shall we?
A year ago, if you told me I would be spending my days texting away with girls in three other states and Germany, talking about literally everything under the sun, I might have doubted you. If you had told me that Olympic swimming would have brought us together, I would have told you that you were crazy. But that's how I met Pam, Brandy, Jessica, and Tina - my best friends.
I met Brandy, Jessica, and Tina through our comments about swimming on Olympic posts in the gossip community ONTD- when people started getting annoyed over all the swimming comments, we moved our chats to Twitter.
There we realized we had much more in common than just loving Ryan Lochte. We watched the same TV shows, listened to the same music, even sort of lived near each other- close enough that Jessica, Brandy, and I started planning a possible trip to the Orlando Grand Prix (and Universal Studios, naturally).
That trip didn't work but we got together for a weekend of Ikea and good food in Atlanta, and later on the Charlotte Grand Prix in May when we finally got to watch all our favorite swimmers (minus Michael Phelps, unfortunately) compete. Other people might have said it was stupid that we were spending our weekend at a swim meet, but we had a blast both at the pool and hanging out before, after, and between sessions at the hotel.
While our conversations can and have covered basically anything you can think about- people we have to deal with, picking out clothes to buy at stores, our frustration over levels of Candy Crush- we still spend a lot of time talking about swimming. We chatted with each other all during What Would Ryan Lochte Do? We encourage each other to go to the pool and work out. If one of us is out during a meet and wants to be updated on how swimmers are doing, we've got that covered- if we're all watching the meet, my phone never stops buzzing.
Basically, these girls are my best friends. I know I can talk to them about anything I need to and that they'll always have my back. When I'm having a bad day, they will not only tell me it's all going to be okay and that everything's going to work out, but they'll also try to cheer me up (and usually succeed). We're so close that when things happen, they're the ones I want to tell first other than my family, and I'm so happy for that.