"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan

The 2012 Olympiad is history, and life in London has again returned to normal. For those who took time to watch the Games, I'm sure they weren't disappointed. For everyone else, I bet they're glad it's over.

The United States has reason to be proud of the men and women it selected to participate in the Olympic Games. As far as I'm concerned, they were all winners. And it is equally satisfying to know that a goodly number of them have ties to the Bay Area.

By now most of the medalists have returned to their respective countries to bask in glory and soak up the spoils, while the rest have gone home to lick their wounds and plan for the future.

Speaking of the Olympics, do you know Katy Freeman? She's our local breast stroke celebrity who grew up in Walnut Creek and currently resides in Concord. Don't bother looking her up in the Olympic roster; you won't find her name listed there.

Katy might've gone to London to compete with the world's finest except that ... but I'm jumping ahead of the story.

As a high-spirited 3-year-old, Katy took her first dip in her grandparents' pool in Walnut Creek, and she's been swimming ever since. The second of three children, she idolized her older sister who loved swimming as much as she did, and later performed as a synchronized swimmer.


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Katy also practiced synchronized swimming, but after several years of limited progress, gave it up to focus on the breast stroke.

Katy competed on her high school varsity swim team in the breast stroke. And, although she fared well, her swimming performance went unnoticed by college recruiters.

But thanks to her high school mentor who saw a lot of potential in his still-budding pupil, he was able to convince the coach at UC Santa Barbara to give her a try.

By the time she completed college, Katy's swimming had improved -- so much so that folks began taking notice. Invitations to compete in regional and national time trials, with the ultimate goal of making the elite national swim team, followed.

To add to that, Katy was invited in 2009 to participate in her first international swim meet in Belgrade. It also marked her first trip abroad.

Things looked rosy for Katy's swimming career until a year and half ago, when her hopes and aspirations came to an abrupt standstill.

While in Ohio in the dead of winter preparing for the national time trials, Katy slipped on an icy walkway and broke her right foot. That required emergency surgery and the insertion of a 3-inch pin in that foot. Katy was ordered to stay off the foot for four months, which drastically altered her training schedule.

At the end of the four months, Katy resumed a rigorous training regimen to make up for the lost time and to prepare her for the contests to determine who would win the free-ride round-trip tickets to London.

We don't have to guess how Katy fared in the trials. It was like peeking at the last chapter of a whodunit novel before reading the plot. She was eliminated almost from the get-go.

Katy missed qualifying by two-tenths of a second. That's remarkable, given that she hadn't completed therapy of her foot and had only a month-and-a-half practice time before competing again. To add to her woes, she is also undergoing treatment for a knee she damaged from her rigorous training.

To the average person, he or she would have considered giving up long before now and engaging in less rigorous activities like playing cards. But not Katy.

When I recently spoke with her, Katy had just completed the last of 160 laps in a 25-yard pool -- that's a total of 4,000 yards -- before going about her other chores. I might add that she swims the distance five times a week using only her upper body strength while keeping her legs taut to avoid further straining her knee.

Although Katy doesn't know what the future holds, she still has aspirations of competing at the international level, and if determination is what it takes, I have no doubt she'll make it!

Rio, watch for Katy in 2016!

Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.