American Athletes Promote Minority Swimming at the New York Hilton

Took a break from politics to attend last night’s Golden Goggles Awards at the New York Hilton, where I was privileged to meet Dara Torres, my favorite Olympic athlete. Dazzling in an emerald green gown that showcased her magnificent shoulders, the cast she sported on her arm did nothing to detract from her glamour.

An inspiration on so many levels, Torres took home three silver medals for swimming in last summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing. She is also, at 41, a first-time mother. As a great athlete and a beautiful woman on all levels (and in person she is warm and gracious), she is proof that anything a girl can do a woman can, and often with the added wisdom and grace that are the gift of maturity.

Olympiad Cullen Jones, the second black competitor to win a Gold for swimming (this year in Beijing,) gave a moving presentation about the importance of learning to swim, especially for minorities, who are three times as likely to drown as whites. Jones himself learned to swim after nearly drowning at a water park when he was five. He narrated a video about a swim program for minority children that is funded by USA Swimming, the foundation the event raised money for. He also struck a note for individualism, saying he often tells children what matters when choosing a hero is character: “I tell them I’ve looked up to people who don’t necessarily look like me.”

My ticket to the event was my cousin, an executive for Hilton, a sponsor of Team USA and of USA Swimming. We sat near The Donald and Melania Trump, and the great Michael Phelps, and shared a table with Olympic bronze medalist Kim Vandenberg, who traded frequent traveler’s packing tips with my cousin (hints: have two sets of toiletries and always leave one in a suitcase, ready to go. Also, take one pair of shoes you can dress up or down, but not black ones because then you’ll get bored of them). All in all, ’twas a great evening, and great to see our American athletes out in support of an important cause.

This entry was written by and posted on November 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm and filed under Blog.