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Young swimmers meet their idols

Three Albany Starfish travel west to watch the Olympic trials and participate in clinics

Niskayuna resident Caroline McGraw, left, met her favorite male swimmer, Ryan Lochte, at the  United States Olympic team trials in Omaha, Neb. McGraw was one of three Albany Starfish members to watch the trials.

Niskayuna resident Caroline McGraw, left, met her favorite male swimmer, Ryan Lochte, at the United States Olympic team trials in Omaha, Neb. McGraw was one of three Albany Starfish members to watch the trials.

— “We heard about the amount of effort you need to become an Olympian,” said Griffith. “Basically, you spend a lot of time away from your family and friends. But if you keep working hard in the pool, then you can achieve it.”

“There was a lot of technique stuff (they taught) that helped,” said McGraw.

Hall said there were two reasons why the clinics were important for the young swimmers that participated in them.

“First of all, they got to see how nice and down-to-earth these (former Olympians) are,” said Hall. “Then, you have the part where they have a lot of great knowledge (from their careers) to share with them.”

There was an additional benefit to the trip. McGraw, Griffith and Serotta met and talked with their idols away from the pool.

“You kind of realize that they are real people, and that they have lives outside of swimming,” said Griffith.

Among the swimmers McGraw met were two of her idols, Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte.

“She was my role model, so it was … I don’t know how to describe it. It was life changing,” said McGraw of meeting Coughlin.

Meeting Lochte was one thing McGraw didn’t count on when she made the trip to Omaha. “It was really amazing,” she said. “I didn’t think I would because he’s such an amazing swimmer and he’s so popular, but I did.”

“It was pretty over-whelming just seeing them (compete), and then to be able to talk to them afterwards was pretty awesome,” said Griffith.

McGraw and Griffith said their week at the U.S. Olympic trials will inspire them to continue working hard in the pool.

“Seeing the Olympic trials, it makes you want to try harder,” said Griffith.

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