Caitlin Leverenz, Olympic bronze medalist, one of the greatest Individual Medley swimmers of our time. Wife, UC Berkeley alumna, all around great human. We've had the great honor of rooting for Caitlin in and out of the pool for the last three years as part of the inaugural Picky Team roster, but the time's come for her to officially step out of the water. Here she is with some words about her decision to retire, including that gut-wrenching final race at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Half chlorine and half tears.
I remembered this line from Natalie Coughlin’s book that I read when I was 13 years old as I stared at the black line at the bottom of the Olympic Trials warm-up pool, watching my goggles slowly fill with water. After finishing .05 seconds away from qualifying for the 2016 Olympic team, I was contributing to the tears half of the pool.
Surrounded by water and overwhelmed with emotions, I was thinking that this could not, and would not, be the end of my career. I could not end on such a disappointment. Then I thought that maybe this was a sign; This was God telling me that I was done and should move on. Then no, that had to be wrong. I am better than that race. I can still vividly remember my grief and volatile thoughts shifting around as swam and filled the pool with more tears.
Those volatile thoughts stayed with me for many months as I felt tormented with the decision - Retire from the sport I loved or stick with it to redeem myself from those five one-hundredths of a second. Ultimately, I realized that despite the sadness and disappointment of missing the 2016 Olympic team, I was proud of my career. When I was nine years old I dreamt of becoming an Olympian, and I achieved that and more when I medaled in the 2012 Olympics. I had been one of the best in country in the 400 and 200IM for almost a full decade. I had experienced tremendous amount of disappointment and I had climbed back from it. I failed and I got back up, I won a lot and lost a lot, I met some amazing people, and I learned a lot about myself. I was proud of that last race, even though it was not quite good enough to make that Olympic team. I laid it all on the line. That day, and all of the days leading up to it, I showed up as the best version of Caitlin Leverenz that I could be. I felt fulfilled with the swimming career that I had.
It is hard to say goodbye to something that has been such a big part of my life. Actually saying the words, “I am done” feels a little like I lost a limb, like I shed a piece of me. Nevertheless, my gut was telling me that it was time.
The number one question people ask me these days is, “So, are you still swimming?” And my answer (much to their surprise) is, “Nope. Not at all.”
Usually the follow up is, “Do you miss it?” And my reply, “Nope. Not at all.”
Truthfully, I do miss it... At least some aspects of it. In that vein, as I say farewell to swimming as a profession and farewell to being a Picky Bars athlete, I’d like to leave you with the things that I miss and the things that I do not miss about the sport of swimming.
We're so proud to have gotten to know Caitlin during the final years of her illustrious career, and will continue rooting for her in retirement! You can keep up with her on Instagram (@c.leverenz) as she tackles life after swimming.
Thank you Caitlin! You'll always be an original Picky Team member and Cookie Doughpness wrapper model to us! Fans for life.
The "Caitlin Leverenz Bar"
aka Cookie Doughpness [$2.75/ea]