The U.S. Olympic Dive Team took a break from training to visit patients and staff at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) on Friday.
On behalf of the WRNMMC Commander Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, the team and its training staff were welcomed by Deputy Commander for Clinical Support Col. John Spain. Thanking them for paying tribute to the wounded warriors, Spain explained to the divers that they would not only make an impression on the patients, but, "You're going to be equally if not more inspired [by them]."
Spain told the team they would have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the many services and quality of care provided by the medical center and its staff. "We're very proud of what we do," he said, adding, that while [you're] in London, "Just so you know, we're going to be rooting for you."
Upon their arrival, 10 of the U.S. Olympic Dive Team's 11 members signed autographs for patients and staff in the Warrior Cafe, visited inpatients on the surgical ward as well as patients in the Military Advanced Training Center (MATC).
Marine Sgt. Zachary Stinson, who lost both his legs while in combat in November 2010, was among the patients who had a chance to meet and talk with the team. He explained he could relate to their dedication and drive.
"They're kind of doing the same thing the military does. They're representing the U.S. It's inspiring," Stinson said.
Accompanying the Olympic Dive Team, famed Olympian Greg Louganis , who competed since age 9, and won his first Olympic diving medal at age 16 in the 1976 games, was on hand to serve as a mentor to the team. In 1988, Louganis became the first man in 56 years to win two gold medals in diving. He went on to win five World Championships and 47 National Championship titles.
Louganis said he was grateful for the opportunity to visit the wounded warriors, who he believes share a similar competitive spirit as the dive team.
"It's great we're able to do this. It's really important," Louganis said.
It allows the young divers to appreciate what they have, he added, noting they may also relate to one another, with "that passion and heart."
Synchronized diver and 3-meter springboard diver Troy Dumais agreed stating, "It's the 'never-give-up,' will to live on and will to work for what you want," Dumais said.
The seven-time World Championships member, who competed in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympic Games, was also inspired by the wounded warriors.
"We train every day, and we work hard for what we love, for our goals, and they're here training and [going after] what they want," Dumais said. "It's an amazing arena. It's an amazing environment to be a part of."
The visit also had a significant impact on synchronized 3-meter Springboard diver Kristian Ipsen.
"It does really put things in perspective," Ipsen said. "Without these [troops] doing what they have done, we wouldn't have the opportunity to do what we're doing."
David Boudia, a 10-meter individual diver and 10-meter synchronized diver, agreed.
"This really puts in perspective why we get to do what we do. These [service members] fight for our country, give us the freedom we have," said the 15-time National Champion, who also competed in the 2008 Olympic games. "It's because of them we're even able to consider or be a part of the Olympic games. It's extremely encouraging to come here."
After training at a local aquatic club in North Bethesda last week, the U.S. Olympic Dive Team departed Sunday for the London games, taking place July 27 through Aug. 12. For more information, visit www.london 2012.com.