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Paralympic Athlete Diary - Part 1 -- October 14, 2000 Paralympic Swimmer, Karen Norris

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - The Paralympics will be held in the same facilities as the Olympics. Here are some coments from USA swimmer, Karen Norris, who trains with the Bruin Masters Swim Club in Los Angeles.

Hello mates!
I'm here safe and sound, after a very long day of
travelling. The flight was full, not an empty seat in
sight. We had three movies (I watched none), two
meals, and one snack. Still, it took forever and a day
to get here. Thankfully my seatmates were skinny women
who were very pleasant. Interestingly enough, both
were Americans married to Aussie men. One couple lived
in the US, the other in Oz. Got some tips on places to
see in my later adventures.
Happily being a Paralympian has its advantages. We
breezed through customs in a matter of minutes. Our
luggage had already been pulled off and was waiting
for us. However, it took several passes through x-rays
and dogs, several changes of buses, and checkpoints
before we were finally delivered to the Paralympic
Village. We were set down in front of our homes, where
we sat waiting for keys.
The houses are extremely spartan. I'm not even in a
house. I'm trailer trash. Trailers have been put in
the backyards of the houses. I'm sharing a room with
the only other married female swimmer. We shared a
room at the Olympic Training Center at a camp earlier
this year, so we know that things will be just fine
for the next 3 weeks. There is only one small dresser
and one small armoire with a bit of hangar space and 2
more small drawers. We definitely do not have enough
space.
We were immediately shipped off to "processing".
This is a warehouse outside of the Village. The USOC
runs the shop. We were given voicemail boxes, answered
medical questions, got our tickets to give to friends
and family, had our photos snapped for media purposes
(just lovely after not having washed my hair for 40
hours and not sleeping either), and given our uniforms
- decent, but not exciting. We don't have our
competition suits yet. It'll be interesting to see
what kind of suit we'll get. Speedo is supposed to
provide us the same deck warm-ups that the Olympians
had. Finally, after 3 1/2 hours at "processing", we
had to rush back to our rooms and go to workout.
We swam at the pool in which water polo was
contested. It's about 20 minutes away by bus in Ryde. It's a decent pool, but the locker rooms are lousy. There's only one close to the pool. The fun pool has been drained (that's no fun!), so it's only the 50m, the steam room, the sauna, and the jacuzzis.
This morning's workout (Fri am) was in the
competition pool. The pool is a beaut! Light green
tiles, pretty green lane lines in the outer lanes,
then red and blue for the inner. The complex has been
divided by temporary walls for the Games, but there is
also a water slide, a wave pool, and another 50m pool.
There are palm trees around the "fun" pools, making
the complex look quite nice.
We're supposed to share the pool with Sweden and
Thailand, but so far they haven't shown. So we've had
the pools to ourselves. Yeah!
So far, I feel pretty well adjusted. I'm a bit
draggy, but I don't think that the jet-lag was as bad
as I thought it would be. I'm really looking forward
to tonight's sleep. It poured rain today. The night
temp's drop fairly low, so that the wool comforter is
not quite sufficient. Tonight I'll add another blanket
and hopefully that will help. Of course, the fact that
I'm in a trailer with no insulation doesn't help.
The info that Ron is waiting to hear is about the
food. The cafeteria is immense. It is in a temporary
building, but it is quite comfortable. Not all the
delegations have arrived in the village yet, so I
don't know how crowded it will be, but right now,
there's not too much of a line for the food.
As to the quality of the food, it is infinitely
better than Atlanta's food. It is on par with
Barcelona. There is plenty of fresh fruit and bread. I
even had steamed broccoli for lunch yesterday :-) !! I
had to wait til dinner for my steamed carrots. This
morning after workout I had my standard breakfast of
oatmeal (call it porridge here, mate!). So my tummy is
happy at this time. I'll let you know how things
progress as the Village gets more crowded.
Nothing really exciting to report (yet). I'd really
like to take a look at the psych sheets, but they
won't be ready until Monday.
I'm looking forward to going into Sydney, but who
knows when that will happen. I've had no free time.
It's rush here, rush there. We've got the flag-raising
scheduled for Sunday. Opening ceremonies are a few
days after that. I won't have to attend prelims on
days I'm not competing, so I'll have a little time to
myself then.
On the whole, I'm very impressed with the operation
here. The buses are a bit crowded and the Village is a
bit spaced out (lots of walking with hills), but we've
had no problems getting to the pools, and that's the
important thing.

Thanks for your support. It makes me feel very good to
know that I have so many people behind me.

I'm off to dinner.

Til later...
-Karen

Sites covering the Paralympics:

www.paralympic.org
www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/paralympics/
www.wemedia.com