the beauty of the opening ceremony

athletes running on track and field oval in grayscale photography
Photo by Pixabay on

It starts with just a single figure

Balooning out to all those dancers

Twirling in the drops of light,

A ceremony gluing us together for

A week, a month a year, that opening

Is just the starting point

For a legacy that stretches out for years

And changes lives in precious little ways.

Tonight is the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games which are being held in Birmingham. It is exactly ten years since we held the Olympics in this country and I think we are all hoping that these Games will bring us all together in the same way.

There is something so magical about the opening ceremonies for any kind of games and I remember a decade ago, sitting on my sofa and actually crying as I watched the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

I’m not normally that soppy, but I’d had a false start on my English Channel swim with the pilot calling me that day to say that I would be swimming the following morning. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and he decided against it so it got pushed back to the following Wednesday.

I went to watch the swimming the next day and I got to see Michael Phelps swim. Again, I cried as the crowd roared and I felt as though I was experiencing something so special.

Those two weeks were incredible and I did spend so much of it crying as my own nerves took a hit waiting for a good window to cross the Channel, and then I also had the joy of watching our athletes smash it at a home games.

I’m sure I’ll spend the next 11 days glued to the action on TV (unfortunately no tickets for me this time), and I hope that I can feel some of that overwhelming emotion I felt a decade ago.

Good luck to everyone competing!

Much Love

Rachel xx

changing reality was all it took

Troublesome facts that clog the life

With multitudes of failures marring

Lives we wished we’d never led.

And all it would have taken was

To change our sweet reality.

The light was red, but let’s just say

For argument’s sake, that it was green,

And hey presto! Your life’s so changed,

From barely even making the team

To all that glitters is the gold.

When I was a kid my event in the pool was the 800m freestyle. There have been many great female distance swimmers over the years and we were lucky enough to have home representation in the form of Rebecca Adlington.

However, when the 2012 London Olympics rolled around, an unknown fifteen year old called Katie Ledecky stole the show and she has been dominant ever since. As a past swimmer, I watch her in awe. Her stroke is hypnotic and she is the type of swimmer that makes me immediately want to go back to the pool and train myself.

I was watching this little Youtube documentary the other day and it was interesting to see how she dealt with the pressure on that night in London. Really, she took what was actually being shouted and turned it into something that was much more positive for her.

Most people, that night, were shouting for Rebecca because she was the hometown girl. But instead of hearing ‘Becky! Becky! Becky!’ she chose to hear ‘Ledecky! Ledecky! Ledecky!’

I’m not suggesting that this alone was responsible for her winning an Olympic gold medal, but that surge of adrenaline and confidence must have done something. Sometimes we need to literally turn the world upside down and back to front to achieve our impossible goals, but sometimes, with a bit of imagination, we can create something magical.

We can quite literally make up our own little world that fits our own story.

Much Love

Rachel xx

to have the chills

That tightly pulled silence that stretches over crowds

And then a simple beep to set the wheels in motion,

The world just holding one collective breath

As swimmers pull and runners push for just a moment,

Four years of sacrifice all rolled into minutes.

We just see that moment in time when everything

Comes together and a gleaming medal is hung

Around their necks, photos taken and anthems sung,

Was it worth it? Of course it was.

I’m absolutely buzzing for the start of the Olympics; to have the chills that only come with sport. I think it’s because I was an athlete as a kid, so I know the sacrifices that are made. I never made it to the Olympics but I can certainly understand what they have put themselves through.

I was lucky enough to go to the London Olympics and see the first day of swimming. It was only the heats but the atmosphere felt electric. I remember the British swimmer, Hannah Miley, won her heat in the 400m IM and I burst into tears. All the hairs on my arms stood on end and it just felt like one of the most amazing moments in my life.

These Olympics will obviously be very different, with no crowds, but I’m sure the athletes will realise that we are all in our living rooms, cheering them on. It will still be possible to have the chills, we just need to become 100% invested in their race and their story, because they have all fought through difficulties to get there.

The video above is enough to have the chills no matter who you are. There will be magical moments and heartbreaking moments and we need to enjoy them and live them with the athletes.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

super saturday

The noise hangs heavy in the air,

I can touch the joy, the frenzy,

The glittering gold before it fades

Into a loving, distant dream.

The BBC replayed Super Saturday from the London 2012 Olympics this afternoon. For anyone not in the UK, it was the middle Saturday during the games when we won more gold medals than we had in over 100 years and three of those golds came in 45 minutes in the athletics stadium.

It really was an electric moment, for the whole country and not just for the athletes, and watching it brought back so many of those intense feelings that we experienced.

I think that everyone remembers that time fondly and we probably all have stories of amazing things that happened that summer. I do recall that we had a bit of a baby boom nine months later, so I am pretty sure there were lots of celebrations taking place during those weeks.

My personal memories were intensified by my own drama that was unfolding during those two weeks. I actually got the call to swim my first English Channel crossing on the first day of the games. It got cancelled at the last moment as the weather changed.

I was then lucky enough to have tickets to go and watch Michael Phelps swim and I spent the whole morning crying because I was so overcome. I then cried for the next week every time I watched an athlete win and see their dreams come true.

All through that first week I was waiting for another call for my rearranged swim. It finally came on the following Wednesday 8th August. I set off from the beach in Dover at 4am and arrived in France 12 hours and 42 minutes later.

It was a truly magical summer. I watched all of those athletes achieve their dreams and I was lucky enough to achieve mine at the same time. Those Olympics will live on in my memory forever.

Much Love

Rachel xx