Olympic dreamsin Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Olympic dreamsin Tahoe

Susan Wood

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Vanessa Mata, 7, left, and Rose Campion, 8, sport Olympic caps during a city of South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department swim lesson.

Now in its second week, Olympic fever is in full swing, and it’s touching more people than just athletes. Many people of all shapes, genders and ages have at one time in their lives shared the dream of going for the gold.

At the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center, Pauline Fitzhugh said she dreamed of being a sprinter in track and field. In her younger days she ran down the streets of Detroit.

“I could run and run and run,” she said.

At another table, Martin Rosenberg said he didn’t consider competing, but he gravitated toward the trampoline while attending UC Davis.

“I never thought of myself that athletically proficient,” he said.

Across the way at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center, 9-year-old Anders Chaplin said he’s realized the goal to compete in soccer and swimming. He also likes fencing “because it’s really cool,” he said, while participating Thursday in Camp Tadaka’s archery activity.

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The boy, who has been watching NBC’s expanded coverage of the Athens Games, was inspired watching a U.S. competitor win the gold in the sabre competition. This is the first time ever for a woman.

“I’m seeing a lot more sports,” he said with a gleam in his eye.

For winter sports, Chaplin likes the idea of trying to bring the 2014 Olympic Games to the Reno-Tahoe area.

“That would be awesome,” he said. “My mom has been working on that.” Aramark’s Carol Chaplin, athletic in her own right, serves as the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce president.

Pooliside, a few moms reflected on Olympic dreams that have come and gone.

“I wanted to be a gymnast – the uneven bars,” Anne Aaron of South Lake Tahoe said, while smiling and watching her son, Shane, 4, in the pool. “I got him to watch the Olympics, so he’d like to come to swim class.”

City-run classes generally meet three times a week for 40-minute sessions.

Cathy Womack, sitting next Aaron to watch her two boys, said she had a penchant for swimming “but never wanted to compete.”

Womack went out on the lake Wednesday and jumped out of the boat to perform the butterfly and back strokes.

“I wanted to show my kids,” she said.

Kathy Campion channeled her love of the Olympics into her daughter, Rose, who has been swimming for four years.

“We saw Natalie Coughlin and said we better get going on the swim thing,” Kathy Campion said. Coughlin is an Olympic gold favorite on the U.S. Swim Team.

The 8-year-old girl has been watching the televised coverage religiously.

“Every day we look at channels 3 and 4 to see the Olympics. It’s so great to see them going for gold medals. They really love it. It’s their thing,” Rose said.

Erin Farmer would just like to see more of an equity in how the Olympic athletes are compensated in comparison to the professionals.

“The sad thing is, these people dedicate all their lives and don’t get paid for it. Then, we have professional athletes getting paid millions of dollars. It doesn’t seem fair,” she said, hanging out at Sprouts – a local restaurant and thinking establishment.

She dreamed of being on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team.

“But it’s a complete life dedication, and I wasn’t willing to do that,” she said, as friend, Jennifer Rosner listened.

Rosner said she “never thought about competing” but knows Olympic skiers.

“I’m supportive of them,” she said.

Before the 2002 Games took place in Salt Lake City, the town turned out for the Olympic torch relay as it made its way through South Lake Tahoe in freezing January temperatures.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com