As Chapman University alumna Ariana Kukors ’12 does her final packing for the first leg of her trip to compete in the Olympics, there’s at least one thing she knows she doesn’t want to take along. The sinus infection she picked up in the wake of her success at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials can just stay behind, thank you.
“Luckily we have great doctors who are taking really good care of me,” Kukors said Wednesday evening in a phone interview from Knoxville, Tenn., where she and her U.S. teammates are training. They will fly to France on Saturday for more preparation and team-building as well as to acclimate to the time change before moving into the Olympic Village in London on July 23.
Kukors is the world-record holder in the 200-meter individual medley but will be making her first trip to the Olympics. She said she’s leaning on Olympic veterans and Chapman friends Kate Ziegler ’13 and Katie Hoff ’14, as well as other teammates such as Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer, as she prepares for the London Games.
“I have a lot of great friends on this team,” Kukors said. “Everyone says to take it all in, to not let it all fly before your eyes.”
At the same time, Kukors is preparing for the biggest opportunity of her life as a competitive swimmer.
“I think it needs to be a healthy balance,” she said. “I’m going to allow myself to get excited, but my first priority is competing and representing my country the best way I can. There will be time for enjoying the village and the other experiences after the racing is done.”
When Kukors isn’t preparing for and competing in the 200 IM, she’ll be rooting for Ziegler in the 800-meter freestyle. Hoff won silver and bronze medals in the 2008 Olympics but was suffering from a stomach virus during this year’s trials and wasn’t able to qualify for London.
Kukors isn’t sure if she’ll march in the Opening Ceremony on July 27 because the swimming competition begins the next day.
“I would love to take part, but I have to decide if there’s enough time for my legs to recover,” she said.
You can follow her on Twitter @ArianaKukors, which she plans to use to share updates and photos from her Olympic experience. She said it’s been wonderful to get so many positive messages from classmates, professors, staff and other friends.
“I’m definitely feeling the support of the Chapman community,” she said. “And that means a lot.”
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