By WESLEY REMMER
Bremerton native and Olympic athlete Tara Kirk is swimming toward the 2008 Olympic Games, scheduled to begin Aug. 8 in Beijing, China.
Kirk recently competed in the Missouri Grand Prix preliminary swim meet, racing to a 1-minute, 7.25-second first-place time in the 100-meter breaststroke and posting solid times in the 50-meter freestyle and 200 breast.
“Right now, I’m just focused on swimming,” Kirk said of the months to come. “I know what it takes to be an Olympic champion.”
Kirk said she gained valuable experience at the 2004 Olympics, hoping this year to propel herself to the podium.
“I didn’t get all my goals (in 2004) because I didn’t win an individual medal,” she said. “But I don’t look at it as a disappointment, just an awesome experience.”
While Kirk is motivated to win, she also believes it is important to keep things in perspective.
“If you get too keyed up on swimming, you don’t swim as well. If I don’t make it, I’m not going to die,” she said.
Kirk’s kept busy out of the water, making sure to enjoy life on land since her 2004 Olympic run. She’s been busy traveling, heading to Europe last summer and came home to Bremerton for the holidays in December.
“Those experiences are really awesome,” Kirk said of her time in Europe. “We played touch football on the beaches in France. We went out to beautiful dinners in Spain.”
And when she returned to Bremerton for Christmas, Kirk said she made sure to catch up with family and friends, especially younger sister Dana.
“She’s doing really well,” Tara said of Dana, who underwent knee surgery on Aug. 17 of last year. “She started training again after her surgery.”
Dana also competed at the Missouri Grand Prix and is expected to vie for a spot on the Olympic team at the trials in June.
“I think the games are going to be exciting,” Tara said of the possibility of competing alongside her sister.
Tara said her sponsors, particularly Bank of America, plan to host sponsorship events in Bremerton prior to the Olympics as a way to generate excitement in the Bremerton community about the upcoming Olympics.
“You cheer on teams, you cheer on people, because you get to be a part of it,” she said. “My hometown family and friends, I want them to be a part of the Olympic Games.”