Skylight's Olga makes a splash for Gay Games 9
Friday, August 1, 2014

As the countdown to the Skylight-sponsored Gay Games begins, we talk to Olga Starr, from our Columbus office, about competing in the Games and her efforts to get in tip-top condition.

So Olga, what sport are you participating in?
I’m very excited to be in the swimming relays with Ohio Splash (Columbus LGBT aquatics league).  I’ve only been with the team a short while so it’s the first time that I’ve competed with them. Yeah - it’s a big thing for me to start competing at such a large international event!

What made you get involved in the Gay Games?   
When I heard about our next big meet being the Gay Games in Cleveland, I thought, why the heck not?  The Games are right on our doorstep and it’s exciting to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world.  I want to experience the whole thing – the swimming, the fun and most of all the camaraderie of the team, who are like friends and family.

What are you doing to get into shape? 
So, it wasn’t easy to get back into an exercise routine after years of being a couch potato. But my Wii Fit virtual trainer’s constant nagging “Oh, I see it’s been 257 days since your last practice…” did its job, and at the end of the brutal winter we had this year I was ready to get out and do something fitness-like. My journal entry on the day of my first swimming practice sounded pretty grim. “I should go swimming, I thought. That'll be good for my knees and back, I thought. It'll be relaxing… So here I am, clinging to ropes halfway down the lane, barely keeping my exhausted lungs from exploding, leaky goggles full of water... relaxing...”

Don’t get me wrong, I used to spend days in a pool as a child, but picking up 30 years later was definitely a challenge. Luckily, my fabulous instructors from Ohio Splash did their best to support me as I was re-learning how to breathe and fine-tuning my technique. So, right now I practice 1.5 hours twice a week. It’s a great exercise in concentration. As I’m focusing on breathing and stroking techniques, my mind wouldn’t stop working… mainly analyzing my planning cases.  

Would you describe yourself as competitive and have you set your sights on a medal?  
Am I competitive? Very much so. But not in sports.  In swimming, I’m realistic about my abilities and am just looking forward to having some fun with the team. By the same token, I will give it my 110%, so we’ll see what happens. It would be nice if my relay team got some sort of recognition as my teammates are all extremely good competitive swimmers. Let’s just hope I don’t drown and embarrass Ohio Splash… just kidding.

We’ll be rooting for Olga all the way and also for Mark Owens, from our Cleveland office, who will be playing soccer for the Cleveland Fury.

Gay Games 9 kicks off on Saturday August 9 and runs to August 16 2014.