Five-Time Olympic Medal Winner Visits PCDS
by Leah Motzkin '12
Phoenix Country Day School and the Marlins were honored to welcome five-time Olympic medalist Greg Louganis to campus on September 9 to run a three-day camp for divers from across the Valley. The camp, currently named Satori, will most likely be renamed Greg Louganis Peak Performance. While Louganis explained his initial hesitation to name the camp after himself due to his desire to keep the focus on “life in general” rather than on his own celebrity, it is actually quite fitting that he would be its namesake. Over the years, his name has become synonymous with excellence, overcoming adversity, and being a role model.
Millions cheered on Louganis as he won gold for diving at the 1988 Olympics, despite having hit his head on the board in a qualifying round. He went on to become the ABC Sports’ Athlete of the Year and proved to the world his ability to overcome any challenge. However, since winning unprecedented back-to-back gold medals in both tower and springboard diving events at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, Louganis has encountered many more obstacles and successes. He came to terms with dyslexia, and became an advocate for raising awareness of the learning difference.
“I learn differently,” he said, in an interview conducted during the camp weekend. “It’s not a disability. Actually, in many ways it is really a blessing because it forces me to be much more creative about how I learn.”
In 1995, Louganis came out as gay and HIV positive and became a role model for millions throughout the world. He then published his first of two books, Breaking the Surface, which remained number one on the New York Times Bestsellers list for five straight weeks. Louganis also pursued a career in acting, including performing in a one-man show in New York City. He became an agility trainer and showed his own dogs at competitions throughout the country. The diverse career paths he has pursued since ending his diving career converged as his main focus became finding a way to transmit to the next generation the knowledge he has acquired through years of overcoming obstacles and achieving success. He finally found his solution by starting the program that brought him to PCDS.
The camp motto is “peak performance is meditation in motion.” Louganis’s goal is to help athletes and performers learn to trust their bodies and their muscle memory in order to not over think their movements and, paradoxically, perform worse. At the PCDS camp, he introduced participants to yoga, meditation, dance, and visualization in order to purposefully teach the skills that he “stumbled on by accident.” He explained the camp in terms of his own experiences and welcomed questions about his life and the program during a PCDS-hosted reception after the first day of the camp.
A role model to so many, Louganis encourages all high-school students to be open-minded and truly listen to the things friends share. He recognizes how difficult the teen years can be, and shows how supportive a figure he is by saying, “I want the kids of today to be better than me.”
The participants greatly enjoyed the camp, especially getting to spend time with Louganis. As PCDS freshman Emma Watson said, “Spending the weekend with Greg Louganis inspired me to become not only a better diver, but also a better person. His unique philosophies on competition and life helped me to clarify who I am as a diver and a person. The yoga and breathing activities taught me to link my new understanding of competitive diving to challenges in everyday life.”
It is clear that Greg Louganis accomplished his goal of inspiring young athletes during the camp and that his program in Phoenix will not be his last. His fans can look forward to seeing him running more activities for young athletes in the future. Additionally, they may even see Louganis, always seeking new challenges, on The Amazing Race or Dancing with the Stars.
Pictured (top to bottom): Louganis teaching diving, demonstrating practices to enhance diving,
with article author Leah Motkin '12