Before we get started, I've got some really important news to pass along. I adopted another dog today. His name is Cahaba. Here's a picture. A free Gator Clause T-shirt goes to anyone who can tell me the significance behind the name Cahaba.
GAINESVILLE -- Got a UF-related Olympics blog post today but first a quick reason for my absence on Sunday.
I didn't post on the blog this weekend because I was busy covering the Coke Zero 400 over at the Daytona International Speedway. Part of my Gators gig in Gainesville involves traveling to places like Daytona, Jacksonville, Tampa, St. Pete and Orlando and covering random sporting events for The Miami Herald. So, don't be surprised to see my byline on a story about Tampa Bay Rays baseball, Jacksonville Jags football or a down-and-dirty report from the Lower Alachua County Roller Derby. (Five bucks to any witty poster who can decode that last literary reference.)
ANYWAY, I saw plenty of Gators fans in Daytona, plenty of bikinis (see picture below) and one overrated actor. You guessed it, Kevin Costner. Costner was at the race pimping his lasted movie, Swing Vote. Very fitting title considering he was in Florida, if you ask me. Costner was arrogant and stuck on himself. I pretty much wanted to soil the media room when he started talking about his band. Costner has a band AND he wrote a song about NASCAR. While he was telling reporters about a Richard Petty lyric in one of his songs (What a tool, right?) I reminded myself that this was the same guy who gave us a movie like The Postman. I secretly wished that Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson and Carl Weathers would walk into the room carrying Scottish swords [PICTURED] with three-foot blades and cut off Costner's head. That's pretty sick, I realize. But I forgive myself and so does Tebow. Of course, Costner also gave us Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, so I guess it evens out.
The sports reporters covering the race were only allowed to as Costner a couple of questions. I had my hand up but the press conference proctor ended the interview before I could shout mi pregunta across the room: Can your fans expect a sequel to "Water World" anytime soon?"
Like I was saying, the University of Florida swimming program will be well represented in the 2008 Beijing Games by three UF swimmers: Dara Torres, Ryan Lochte and Caroline Burckle. Torres, Lochte and Burckle will now join Team Michael Phelps for what is being dubbed by ... well, just me ... as the Chinese Takeover.
In addition to the three Gators swimmers, UF swim coach Gregg Troy has been asked to be an assistant coach at the Olympics with Team Michael Phelps. (I'm trying to nail down an interview with Troy this week for you guys.)
Torres was the Olympic Trails' second biggest story next to Phelps. Torres, who is 41 years old, will be competing in her fifth Olympic Games. She qualified in the 100- and 50-meter freestyle sprints. Burckle, NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 2008, qualified in the 200-meter freestyle. She will also swim in the 4x200-meter relay. Lochte qualified in the 400- and 200-meter individual medley races and the 200-meter breaststroke.
Nine other former or current Gators qualified for Beijing.
Gators Representing Other Countries in Beijing:
Bradley Ally, Barbados
Brett Fraser, The Cayman Islands
Shaune Fraser, The Cayman Islands
Gabriel Mangabeira, Brazil
Ricardo Monasterio, Venezuela
Omar Pinzon, Colombia
Adam Sioui, Canada
Gemma Spofforth, Great Britain
J.B. Walsh, Philippines
Swimming, of course, isn't the only thing Gators are good at. They can run, too. Here's the list of Gators who qualified for track and field events in the Beijing Games.
Hazel Clark, U.S., 800 meters
Kristin Heaston, U.S., shot put
Kerron Clement, U.S., 400 hurdles
Mariam Kevkhishvili, Georgia, shot put
Tianda Ponteen, St. Kitts, 400 meters
Calvin Smith, U.S., 4x400 meters
Novlene Williams, Jamaica, 400 meters
These race fans had been in the infield at Daytona for three days when I took this picture. They said they didn't change or clean the water once and had been drinking in that tub pretty much all day every day. NOT ONE WATER CHANGE. No chlorine or nothing. They were Dick Trickle fans.