SANTIAGO, Chile, January 2. FELIZ Año Nuevo, everyone! Happy New Year!
We celebrated the beginning of 2004 two hours before the U.S. east coast did, but we thought of you all when you hit 12 midnight.
Here in Santiago, it was a bit of a culture shock to find the streets were completely dead when we went out at 11:00 pm. We soon found out that here the new year's festivities don´t start until 12:30 or so because people spend "count-down" time at home with family.
There was a big party at the EIM – Estadio Israelita Maccabeo – the headquarters for all the athletes here. There were fireworks and a champagne toast at midnight and lots of music. Sara and Becca also hit a couple bars but were pretty tired after four days of competition so didn´t stay out too late.
The competition is over and the USA juniors, open and Masters swimmers
have totaled over 80 gold medals along with over 20 silver and about 10
bronze. Becca broke her silver streak from Israel with seven golds, Sara got three golds, two silvers and a bronze and Leah has now picked up where Becca left off with five silvers of her own and one gold. We also had an exciting race on the third day when our teammate Mark Hill got his Olympic Trials cut in the 50 free. It was an amazing race to watch.
We have all been making a lot of friends on our team as well as other swim
teams. Becca has gotten to see several of the friends she made in Israel in ´01 from Columbia, Australia and Mexico, and Leah — if there was ever any doubt — has been inseperable from the Aussie team since she met them.
Tomorrow we will be taking a trip to the beach to dip our toes in the
Pacific Ocean. We heard that it is beautiful but the water is very cold. We'll let you know when we get back.
–Becca, Sara and Leah Schwartz