Othello graduate Natilee Ruiz and Richland swimmer Lisa Bratton competed in Omaha, Neb., at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Ruiz called Herald staff writer Katie Dorsey on Saturday before flying home.
Natilee RuizI didn’t do as well as I hoped (in the 200-meter backstroke). The way I’ve been training, I was supposed to do a lot better than I did. It’s just gonna push me to work hard in Indianapolis at the U.S. Open.
I was seeing ‘Happy birthday, Michael Phelps’ signs in the crowd, and I told Todd (Stafek, Channel Cats coach), and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s mine, too.’ I was like, ‘It’s your frickin’ birthday, and you didn’t tell me?’
After dinner, we went to an ice cream shop. This place was filled to the top with people. Because we were in a 45-minute wait to get our ice cream, I stood up and got in the middle of the store and said: ‘Excuse me, we are going to sing “Happy Birthday” to our coach. Would you like to sing to him?’ The whole place joined in. One of the dads said to me, ‘It looks like Todd’s face matches your red shirt.’
It was really cool, but I even admitted that’s probably the most crazy thing I’ve done in my entire life.
I’m going to remember all the talks I’ve had with Todd, Lisa, the family that came, and Jen (Tonkyn, Channel Cats assistant coach) and Russ, her husband. I absolutely love the fact that these families came to support us, and they didn’t care how good or bad we did because they love us. It was nice to hear all the kind things everybody was saying.