Zippy Olympic Fever

With Olympic frenzy in the air, Zippy had to check out the reason for all this aquatic fuss. Sure, the South may be football crazy (go dawgs), North Carolina may be basketball crazy (woo-hoo tarheels) but the Bay Area is definitely swim crazy. It just seems a little odd to a lobster, all this fuss about…doing the crawl? Combining his two favorite passions – children’s health and water – Zippy attended (grab some earplugs for the high-pitched squeals of joy) a kids’ swim meet. Zippy set out to recreate the Mike Phelps experience, here in the actual pool where a record for young boys was held by Matt Biondi – and where Natalie Coughlin is spotted by swim teams from time to time. Did Zippy make it off the starting block? Did he win his race? Did he go, afterward, all the way to China(town)? If you’re Mike Phelps, all we can say is, read it and weep – the bar has been set pretty high.

There are many strange places in California (which is, as any American knows, world-renowned for strangeness) but for a true out-of-this-universe experience, you have to visit a West Coast championship swim meet, where literally hundreds of swimmers (ages four to eighteen), and their siblings, parents, and friends, wait hours in the California sun to compete in a race that lasts (literally) seconds.

One of the incredible young swimmers swam four lengths of the pool (backstroke) in less than 60 seconds. To put it in perspective, Doc Gurley pointed out that she cannot actually stumble, fall into the pool, then climb out in less than a minute, much less swim the length of the pool four times.

Zippy was astounded – not by the heat, but by the sight of so many humans interested in something as sensible as swimming. Zippy was particularly interested in the eight-year-old and younger I.M., or individual medley, a race which involved four laps, four strokes, and 100 yards – a big WOW! of a race, especially considering that several of the kids were swimming it for the first time ever.

Through the hours of waiting, we sampled the most delightful parts of a swim meet – sno cones (syrup with ice – the perfect snack for a hot day), and big cheers for every swimmer who got a personal best time. Hanging out with friends is one of the joys of swim-meets and Zippy did get a chance to participate in the swimming world’s most intense competition: cards. Card games are never get quite as intense as when you’ve spent forty-eight hours playing against your opponent.

Zippy got the chance to meet lots of young athletes, and challenge one to a race (the lobster won, naturally!). We also got to see the award ceremony – sadly, only as spectators. Zippy was disappointed, until we explained the biggest trophy wasn’t for an individual athlete, but for the team of kids who’d managed the best times in the meet overall. What a huge lobster smile that produced – Zippy loves kids!

In pure Olympic spirit, Zippy, after his kid-filled workout, headed off to China(town) afterward. Here he is the famous San Francisco Chinatown arch.

Zippy has a lot in common with San Francisco’s most famous Foo Dog – they both like to protect the vulnerable (and they both have eerily similar mouths). Don’t mess with Zippy’s kids!

China(town) is so exciting – talk about Olympic fever! Interesting people, and interesting sights. What an international experience, here in a small San Francisco residential neighborhood full of families and kids. Zippy loved watching the artist carving names into a “chop” for some visiting teens – you can get your name in Chinese on the bottom of a stone stamp (or chop), right on the street.

There were also lots of fascinating windows to stare into.

After Zippy’s Olympic experience with swimming and China(town), he was definitely turning heads. Even stone ones.

So what could possible top Zippy’s Mike Phelps experience here in the Bay Area? San Francisco is a major metropolitan area – like New York, Chicago, and L.A. – full of power and fame. Is there anyplace Zippy wouldn’t dare to go to help his kids? Tune in tomorrow when Zippy takes on (drum roll) City Hall!

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