Butler siblings ready to make a splash

By Jade Webster, CIOC Press Representative

Geoffrey Butler and his sister, Lara Butler will be the first Cayman Islands Olympic athletes to compete on August 6 and August 7 in the 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke respectively.

“I’m just trying to keep calm and keep working on skills in my training every day. I’ve been working on turns a lot these last couple of days and just trying to make sure I am as fit as I can be really,” Geoffrey says.

“I’ve been doing lots of starts and practices, purely because the backstroke start is a lot different in the past two years than it has been ever. I’m just trying to make the same replica of what you’re going to practice into the race,” Lara adds.

Geoffrey Butler opens Cayman's competition in the 400m freestyle on 6 Aug.

Geoffrey Butler opens Cayman’s competition in the 400m freestyle on 6 Aug.

The Butlers have been training every day, with Geoffrey swimming twice a day, at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium since their arrival to Rio on July 28.

“I’m trying not to change it up too much while I am here it’s better to keep going with the same route,” Geoffrey says. “I’m doing all similar stuff but as I get closer and closer to the race you start dropping the meters, it’s not as hard, so your body is rested. It’s really been trying to keep it normal, even though I’m at the Olympics, just as normal as it can be.”

So, what is a normal day for an Olympic athlete? The first time Olympians try to maintain the same activities every day, Lara says most days are quite boring. The Butlers try to balance their day between playing cards, meeting famous at athletes and actually trying to remember their extremely busy day.

“We wake up in the morning around 8ish, we go straight to breakfast, then the pool where we will be there for two hours,” Lara says. “For me it will be 100 back which would be more of a sprint set. I’ll do the whole set and then at the end I’ll stop and do technique, work on my starts and underwaters. [Geoffrey and I] will come back to the village get a quick snack and usually just play cards or find something exciting to do in the games room. Then its lunch.

“Geoff, will usually go back to the pool and I will go to the gym, after that it is dinner, then we go to the arcade and that’s the day basically. It just ends up going by so quick, you don’t really see how everything goes but it’s exciting here, we trying to look out for famous people, like today we saw Nadal and literally our eyes are out everywhere we go.”

Lara Butler makes her Olympic debut in the 100m backstroke on 7 Aug.

Lara Butler makes her Olympic debut in the 100m backstroke on 7 Aug.

Following her brother, Lara takes to the pool the very next day says she is more than happy she is not the first to compete.

“Well I think mine is one of the first events on the second day, I’m kind of glad my is not the first day so I can watch Geoffrey and get the feel on how everything is going to go. It’s not like he is the guinea pig but he is the first race.”

Lara who has a private routine before all her events – though some might see it as being antisocial, she starts off with a light stretching session on her own.

“I just want to go in and not get psyched out by everyone else around me and do my own prep and go into it. I just want to execute it all correctly and not go out too slow or two fast, you just don’t want to get over excited and then end up coming back too slow, but everything will hopefully pan out right.”

Like many athletes around the world, participating in the Olympics has been nothing but a dream, but a dream come true for Geoffrey.

“[The Olympics] mean everything. I’ve being waiting to come to the Olympics since I was 8 years old and just to compete in the Olympics is a massive dream for every athlete really. I mean I can’t think of a sport were kids don’t want to be at the Olympics, really so, it’s just a huge, huge deal to be here.”

The Butlers after their first training session in Rio

The Butlers after their first training session in Rio

Emerged into the largest athletes’ village in history, consisting of 31 brand-new buildings of up to 17 floors each, with a total of 3,604 apartments, stretching a remarkable 1-mile long. With more than 10,000 athletes the Olympic Village will house officials from national delegations, including coaches, doctors and psychologists. At some point during the Olympic Games about 18,000 people will call the village home.

While admiring his surroundings, Geoffrey says, “I don’t really know, I didn’t put too much thought on the Olympic village. Just seeing how many different [17] story buildings there are is quite cool. There is the whole Team Brazil one and so it’s quite cool and everyone is there and there are flags outside everyone’s windows so it’s actually so much cooler than I thought it would be.”

“It’s a lot more, I never thought we’d get a free pair of glasses. Like we went into get our eyes tested and mine are a lot worse than I even thought they were then there is a dentist, Florence went to it this morning,” Lara says enthusiastically. “It’s just things you never expect to be in the Olympic village but there is. Like the games room, its huge they’ve got these special Samsung virtual things and stuff so you feel like you are on a roller coaster but you’re not, it’s pretty cool.”

The Butlers along with the other 9 Cayman delegates will walk out onto a production that has been in the works for more than three years. Roughly, 35,000 professionals will be involved on the night with the show featuring 12 samba schools and over 5,500 costumes.

“A lot of dancing!” Lara says, “Brazil is pretty famous for dancers and the music and stuff, so I think I think it’s going to be a wild one, hopefully it will be good.”

“Ronald has told me it’s like nothing else he has ever witnessed,” Geoffrey says. “I’ve just been told that it will be a highlight of my life so I don’t know, I don’t know what to expect.”

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