Five Against One

by Matthew on October 9, 2012

The Kona Crew - 2012

Only fitting that we use the original title of one of my favorite all-time album’s, Pearl Jam’s sophomore release Vs., for the first post of Kona Week 2012.  We’re finally all here on the Big Island, all 5 of us having arrived in staggered bits but nonethless all here.  Outside of our beloved 2Cup (Drew Marlar), we’re all staying at what has become Dynamo Multisport Kona HQ, a stunning house near the run turnaround mark on Ali’i drive.  Unlike the last couple of years, the house is pretty well jammed to the windows this year.  And that is a great problem to have, one which I’ve dreamt about since we came here as Dynamo for the first time in 2009 with Haley and Betty.

It’s easy to reflect back on the differences between 2009 and 2012, both here in Kona and as a team in general, especially in context of Dynamo Multisport’s 4th birthday that occurs fittingly next week.  Outside of the obvious differences – numbers and experience being the most glaring – I like to think that what defines us on the eve of our 4th birthday is our similarities to how the team was when we first started rather than the differences.  The core culture characteristics of our group – caring, empathetic, diverse, fun-loving, loyal, proud and driven – are fiercely in tact.  And all of those qualities are on prominent display here this week in Kona.  Between the specific composition of our support crew (30 in total) and the 5 athletes, this is a great cross-section of the core components of our culture.  Maria and I have purposely chosen to vision and lead this group as a family.  As such we are incredibly close.  As such, we have our fair share of family dysfunctions.  We are not without faults, believe me (as I raise my hand high in the air), but the downsides of our dysfunction, I believe, are worth the upsides of how inextricably wound together this group is.

Recently I hit Twitter and sent off a message that read, “Born from a storied Tradition. Home grown.  WE ARE DYNAMO.”  Prior to writing those words I had been reflecting on the last 4 years and who we were as we entered this 4th Kona as a true team.  I thought about the Dynamo name, and the rich history the name carries in the swimming world.  As a young age grouper growing up in the Southeast, Dynamo was one of three teams that were the model programs in our region and also nationally.  The Dynamo swimming tradition, for me personally, has always set the bar for the vision of elite performance.  Granted our team is built on amateur triathletes, so elite performance-oriented athletes aren’t necessarily the norm, nor should they be given the amateur status.  However, for those who want it, we have leaders who are willing to dream the big dream, and who have experience implementing a program to chase those dreams.  The roots there lie both in Dynamo swimming’s past, and it’s current leadership in Jason Turcotte (Head Coach), Rich Murphy (Head Coach-Alpharetta) and Maria Thrash (Head Masters Coach).  That Jason and Rich share a common coaching genealogy to our mentor Richard Quick only fortifies how we as a group tend to approach our athletes.

As for “home grown”, well, I take enormous pride in the fact that the 4 athletes (outside of myself) we have at Kona this year are also 4 of the first 10 athletes to enter into the program.  They came to us not out of recruiting, lured by specific incentives as many teams with far greater numbers than us have here.  They took a leap of faith based on, I believe, the backing of Maria Thrash and Dynamo swimming’s tradition of excellence.   4 of the 5 of us were Dynamo Masters athletes prior to the inception of Dynamo Multisport, and we have our adult swimming roots born from Maria.  I like to say that Dynamo Multisport begins and ends with Maria because it does.  Her Masters program sets the tone for our program.  I will stand up to anybody and defend Maria’s program as the singular best amateur triathlon-focused Masters program for in the entire world; yes, the entire world.  The four have been critical leaders in the growth of Dynamo Multisport.  All 5 of us happen to live in Atlanta, and while we do have teammates outside of ATL, including a nice little community growing in Miami, we are primarily a Georgia-centric team.  Georgia isn’t a natural hot spot for triathletes.  However, I believe this state can produce great athletes.  It has in swimming, cycling and running as individual sports.  Why not triathlon?  3 of us actually live within a mile of each other.  Erik, Drew and I all reside in the small town of Decatur just east 6 miles east of downtown Atlanta.  Lastly, we are supported by Georgia-based companies.  All3Sports.com, Blue Competition Bicycles and Mizuno Running – North America are all based in Atlanta metro and are critical members of our family.  I believe in supporting the companies that support our geographical community, and these three companies have those same core values.  We surround ourselves with good, honest people because that’s who we are, and the leaders of those organizations – Morgan Clark, Chance Regina and Matt Booth – are those people.

I plan on featuring the four athletes in two other blog posts this week.  Something to provide you, the reader, a little background on each and to personalize them a bit prior to Saturday.  I can’t tell you how proud of all four of them I really am.  They are amazing people, first, and also happen to be damn good athletes secondly.

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