By TESS SHEETS
Do you remember what kind of person you were at 11 years old? What kinds of food did you like? What were your goals and your aspirations? Who were your idols? What was your favorite sport? Did you dream of being a professional athlete?
Try to answer those questions from the point of view of your 11-year-old self and then compare them to the answers you would give if someone asked you today. Are they even remotely similar?
Recent UT graduate Jordan Augier set a goal as an 11 year old to compete in the 2016 Olympics. Ten years later, he did it. Augier, ‘16, raced for his native country St. Lucia in the 50m Free in Rio on Aug. 11th and placed 45th out 85 swimmers.
The Minaret got the chance to sit down with him to chat about how it feels to be an Olympian.
M: What day did you get to Rio?
J: I got there on the 3rd of August. So, I had time to settle in, experience everything, get a taste of the environment and the atmosphere, and then get ready for the opening ceremony.
M: What was the village like that you were staying in?
J: Everyone stayed in the same village. What they do is they construct this big area, for all the teams to stay in and everything is provided: food, dental care, eye care, there’s a fitness area. There’s a lot of stuff. It’s amazing to see the construction and the effort they put into preparing for the games like that. I mean, yeah it is a big thing, but just seeing it– it was just an amazing village.
I think there were about 35 highrises, and every team stayed in the different building. Some teams, like the bigger ones like Canada and USA, they would fill up an entire building. And everyone had their flags hanging from their balconies. So it was really cool see that. It was an amazing thing to experience.
What they do is, after the games, instead of breaking them down or letting it go to waste, they tend to fix them up a little bit and sell them to locals as apartments and condos and stuff like that.
Overall the village was amazing. I know some teams had some trouble though with some things not being completed yet. Like I remember Team Jamaica had some problems and then Team Australia, who went pretty early had some problems with the plumbing and whatnot. But, luckily, we only occupied two flats, so we didn’t have any problems.
M: How many athletes competed for St. Lucia?
J: There were only five of us. There was one guy for track, two high-jump girls, one girl for sailing and then me for swimming. So it was a very small team of athletes. It was pretty nice because we all kind of knew each other basically, so it was nice to have a small team. And it makes you feel– not to sound vain or anything– but it makes you feel a little more important, a little more vital to the success or performance of your country and stuff like that.
M: Did you have a coach with you?
J: I did. I had my coach from St. Lucia, Jamie Peterkin. He’s been my coach since 2006. So, like 10 years ago, we set out a plan that we were going to go to the 2016 Olympics and make it happen. So what we did is, we had the overall goal of leading up to the 2016 Olympics and what we’d do is break it down into Olympic cycles, which is four years, and then base our progress and try to hit the progress marks every time, which would lead us up to getting qualified and then going there. I’ve been swimming for like 15 or 16 years now, right? So, when Jamie came along, he saw the potential in me and then we planned to do it, and then 10 years later it happened. So it’s a great feeling. And I remember all my school friends and close friends from high school that I still keep in touch with, when the news came out and it was released, everyone would message me and say “whenever we had a new teacher, every new semester, you know you stand up, say your name, something you like to do and then a goal or aspiration, and you would say ‘I want to go to the 2016 Olympics.’” And I remember that. I remember writing down “I want to go to the 2016 Olympics.” So, it happening is just beyond words for me.
M: You competed on the 11th. So how did you prepare for that race? It was like in the middle of the day, too. You had a lot of time to think about it, am I right?
J: Right. So, referring to the time thing, the only reason that the competition time was changed, at least for swimming, was so that the west coast was able to view it, because that’s the majority of the people that watch the Olympics. So, NBC actually changed all the times of the sports. So usually on a race day, I would wake up around 5:30 a.m., be at the pool around 7:30, warm up. Warm ends usually around 9:30, they close the pool, meet starts at 10:00 and then for my event, which happens to be first, I would have been racing by like 10:06. I don’t think I even left the village by 10:00. So it was really strange. I was a change of pace for me. But, I had the time to adjust, so that’s what we did in the days leading up to the race. I had to practice waking up at that time, leaving the village at that time, jumping in the pool for warm up, doing all the training sessions and whatnot based on the time that I was going to swim. So it was kind of getting my body into the rhythm of things, so I kind of got used to it. But, it still was a bit strange having to race at that time in the day because usually by then you’re back at the village or hotel resting for the night session.
It was different, but preparation wise, what we did was focus a lot on race rehearsal and just a lot of vision– just envisioning everything. So each day in practice we would break down the event into three or four sections and we would try to nail it right on the point. So I would do dives and then break out into the first 15. And then the next day we would practice that middle segment and then the next day we’d practice the finishing segment. And then two days before I actually raced, we do what we call a stinger, where you put on a old racing suit and try to do the same event as hard as you can. And then you rest up and have a short warm up the next day, and then comes race day where you just have to put it together.
For the envisioning part, especially in the last 24 hours before the event, what we do is, my coach would make me rest both my eyes and sit down, and just envision everything: walking up to the blocks, adjusting the blocks to my setting– everything. And he would start me and in my head, I would go through the race and tell him when I touched the wall. And he would time it and tell me “if you can do that, then you can really race your race before you even have to do it.”
M: So how did your actual race compare to your previous races and your vision of the race?
J: Leading up to the race, I was actually not nervous for some reason. Because my race was so late into the competition and I got to watch so many people so I was just like “I want to race, I want to race.” Then waiting that long, when the night before finally came, I wasn’t that nervous, I was just kind of anxious and excited to swim and have my big day. But then when you try to go to bed that night and you’re nervous and going through the race in your head, you wake up in the morning and it’s a struggle to eat breakfast and the nerves start to kick in. When I got on the block and looked down and saw all the flags and the Olympic rings, I was just like “this is it. Ten years later, this is it.” And everyone got quiet and I just went down and everything was blank. It was just literally muscle memory. I don’t even remember looking down at the water or anything. It’s a crazy feeling that I can’t really explain. It’s one of a kind. But hopefully there will be another one. I’m focusing on taking a short rest because I have some aches and then jumping back in the pool and doing it all over again.
M: So you’re planning on going to Tokyo?
J:Yep, that should be a really good one. I’m just trying to get my life on track, so when I finally decide what I’m going to do with my life, when I finally get a job soon, then I’ll be able to schedule swimming and lifting around that, rather than starting it now and then getting a job and it’s all scrambled.
M: Are you looking to stay in Tampa?
J: Yeah so I’m looking for jobs in Tampa and I’m also looking to buy a house. I love Tampa, it reminds me of home. And that’s why I love this school, it reminds me of home. Tampa is big and stuff but it’s also small you get that home feeling. St. Lucia is small. You see a lot of the same people, and on campus it’s kind of hard not to see the same people a lot of the time. That’s why I like Tampa. Tampa is growing and expanding but it also has that kind of home feeling.
M: In terms of your actual time, how did that compare?
J: The time wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Many people don’t know this but I went into the competition with a slight injury. I had a tear in my right bicep, which I’m still recovering from. I was getting intense treatment every day leading up to the competition. It didn’t hurt me that much inside the pool, it was more outside of the pool, but what I found it did have an effect on, an what I found was more significant, was it had kind of a mental plague on me. So that kind of had an effect on me, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. I want to know that I got up on the block and swam the hardest swim at that point. It felt fine the first half, but for some reason I started to tighten up during the second half and I felt myself slowing down and I knew when I hit the wall it wasn’t going to be what I wanted. I went 23.28 and my best time is 23.00, so my goal time was to go 22.8 or faster, which I know I can. But unfortunately it wasn’t that and it was very frustrating and a lot of people messaged me and were like, “You got where you wanted to get, it’s still a big thing, appreciate the moment. I know it wasn’t what you wanted, I know you wanted to do this and that. Just don’t beat yourself up too much.” My coach wanted to go out that night after my race and we didn’t. He knew I was upset. I almost cried. I just went back to my area, put my face in my towel and I could just hear my phone blowing up.
And the Olympics were really important to me because in 2006 I actually quit swimming. Then my grandmother, who was very influential in my swimming and in the entire swimming association back home, she was the one who got me back into it. Although I didn’t like it at first, I got back into it and it’s gotten me further than I could have ever expected. She passed away in 2010, and after that I said that anything I ever did in swimming would be dedicated to her. That’s why it meant that much more to me. A lot of my big swims, as soon as I hit the wall, I would instantly go to her and know that she was looking over me. I know she had the best seat in the stands, watching right over me. So I felt a little like I disappointed her, but I got to the Olympics, so that was more than enough of an achievement. That’s mainly why I want to go for another round.