Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs On Tuesday, when Blake Worsley answered his phone outside of his hotel room in Montreal, his voice sounded the same.
It didn’t dip or dive with emotion.
Instead, Worsley calmly described his 200-meter swim at the Canadian Olympic Trials. It sounded like just any other race.
Then, you realize that in one of the closest races of the trials, Worsley’s time of 1 minute, 49.06 seconds qualified him for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
But that’s Worsley, and it’s a big part of the reason why he is where he is. His demeanor couldn’t be more laid back on the surface.
While he admitted last week that he would be nervous, he showed no signs of it. He had the same demeanor he had years ago when he swam at the University of Denver.
It was the same one he had when watching his brother, Cole, at the Colorado State Swimming Championships three years ago.
It was the same as it was last August before he set out to train for the Olympics.
And it probably will be the same one he has in London in a couple months.
But Worsley’s accomplishment begs another question. Here in Steamboat, Olympians are commonplace.
It’s not unlikely to see one at the store, the gas station or the park.
But where does Worsley’s feat rank? It’s all subjective, but Worsley qualifying for the London games has to rank right up there.
Winter Olympians dot this town’s history. From Billy Kidd to Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick, Steamboat’s Winter Olympic history is well documented.
Worsley’s work in the pool, however, rivals that. Sure, he hasn’t won a medal at the Olympics like others, and the notoriety and fanfare around him won’t be the same as the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
But judging from the comments by Canadian Olympic coach Randy Bennett, this only could be the beginning.
Bennett described Worsley as an inexperienced swimmer. He said he hopes that Worsley, no matter what happens in London, will continue swimming through the next Olympics. Bennett said if Worsley does that, he could envision Worsley being at the top of his sport.
Still, being a summer Olympian from Steamboat is quite the coup. Where winter Olympians have the advantage of Steamboat’s natural climate, Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Ski Area, Worsley had none of that.
Worsley spent winters swimming outside in a pool. Maybe it toughened him up, but not having an indoor swimming option in Steamboat wasn’t an advantage.
But through it, Worsley was able to earn a scholarship to Denver. He was able to earn a spot on the Canadian National team and, now, a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.
Regardless of where that ranks in Steamboat Olympic lore, the accomplishment places Worsley in select company.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com