20 Questions with Kara Lynn Joyce
Kara Lynn Joyce left Omaha, Neb., thinking she had not made the Olympic team. But after Dara Torres scratched from the 100 free and Joyce was named to her second consecutive Olympic team, her world was turned upside down. The former Georgia Bulldog explains those emotions, and talks about her swimming future in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday with SwimNetwork.com Senior Writer Bob Schaller.
1 How much of a whirlwind was your Trials?
Kara: Well, making the Olympic team was a little different for me than for anyone else. I didn’t find out I had qualified for the team until on my way home with a message from my coach.
2 So how did you feel when you first left the meet?
Kara: It was hard. Obviously, I had been training to make it, and I had a horrible meet. I wasn’t even close to my (best) times. It’s something I’ve never gone through before. It was kind of weird. I felt like I put in all the work and even though it didn’t show up at this meet it would show up later.
3 What was your mindset for the trip home?
Kara: I was like, “Back home, back to the drawing board.” And then it ends up working out. It was pretty crazy. We were still on the airplane when I checked my messages. I had one from (Olympic and Georgia coach) Jack (Bauerle) – a typical Jack (laughs) message, “Kara, give me a call.” I called him back and he said, “I just want to let you know that you are on the team now.” I started crying. Everybody else had their celebration in the pool. Mine was on that airplane. I had to literally turn around at Chicago and go to California for (team) camp. I didn’t even finish my flight home. My bags had to catch up to me. They did go through to Atlanta and eventually got to me.
4 So how was Beijing?
Kara: Beijing was incredible. Everyone asks, “How was it?” But it was kind of like my first Olympics where you don’t realize how big it is until you get home and you find out that everyone watched the Beijing Olympics. It was a bunch of really especial moments for USA Swimming and our country. And I loved China.
6 So you stuck around after you finished swimming?
Kara: I did stay, yes. Last time I went home two days after swimming was over. This time I went to the Great Wall, and did the touristy thing. I went out with the team and just loved it.
7 How does this compare to your Olympic experience in Athens in 2004?
Kara: It was different. I’m sure every Olympics is different. In 2004, I was 18, and it was my first big meet. In general, Beijing was a little bit – I don’t want to say anything bad about Greece, because it was awesome in its own way – but Beijing was really planned well and put together. They were both awesome Olympic Games, though, and I would not change either one.
8 Did the way you made the team this year give it a different feel?
Kara: In 2004, I qualified in the traditional sense, I guess you could say, at Olympic Trials. The whole summer was one big adventure. It just didn’t stop. We went from Olympic camp, to Greece, and it was over. In Beijing, I took more time to enjoy the moment. I was so grateful to be there. To medal on the relay and final in my event, me being a little bit more mature and realizing how great it was, I just got to appreciate it a little bit more.
9 What’s it been like post-Olympics?
Kara: When you get home from the Olympics, you are busy in one sense, but not busy in the other. I had spent the last couple of years training and eating. Now, it’s a different kind of busy, seeing family and friends, and it all doesn’t hit you until you come home and get that overwhelming response from friends and family – and people you don’t even know – from your hometown. And all that makes the whole thing even more special.
10 I saw you, Kristy Kowal, Maritza Correia, Courtney Shealy and a lot of the former Georgia swimmers gather for a reunion. What was that like?
Kara: That was really cool. There were a lot of alumni who I hadn’t met who made a huge impact on the program. Kristy, Courtney, Maritza and everyone. The reason I came to Georgia was because of what these girls had done years before when I was in elementary school – all they had done to build up the program to what it is today. All the women who came before me.
11 So you are staying in Georgia for a while even though you are done swimming at Georgia as a college athlete?
Kara: Yes. I like the south a lot. I grew up in upstate New York and in Michigan, so I had a good 18 years of the cold. But I love the south and I love warm weather. I love training here with Jack.