McKinney Olympian Mary Killman has returned to London after conducting final training in Dublin, Ireland, this week with her synchronized-swimming partner Mariya Koroleva.

Their long-awaited competition date is finally near -- Sunday, Aug. 5. As Killman blogged on Wednesday, “[Now] it’s game on.”

“I love it here,” Killman emailed McKinney Magazine on Friday. “The Village is absolutely amazing and the energy is intense! I can't wait to get started competing!”

Killman’s parents, Jerry and Bonnie Killman, will travel from Oklahoma to London to see their daughter's performances, and Killman’s plenty excited about that. For those just catching up, Killman and her family lived in McKinney during Killman’s early teenage years and, of all the places she’s lived, she still calls McKinney "home.”

Killman blogged this week on that Irish fans who attended the synchronized-swimming pair’s Dublin practices provided them a nice boost. Some even took to calling them “Ireland’s Team.”

“The Irish were great,” Killman says. “They call us ‘their’ team and it's such an honor!”

“Ireland doesn't have a Synchronized Swimming team that has reached international levels just yet, so since we trained here before the Olympic Qualifiers back in April, we became the next best thing!” she says.

The Irish locals even provided the young women with sharp-looking “Dublin Ireland 2012” T-shirts to commemorate the occasion. “I'm representing the USA,” Killman says, “and even a little bit of Ireland when we compete.”

As previously noted, Killman and Koroleva were able to work extensively with their alternate, Cate Stewart, while in Ireland. Killman blogged this week about the difficulty alternates face, especially for Free Routines, where each swimmer’s moves are often different and the alternate must know both positions to perfection. (In Technical Routines, each swimmer’s moves are identical throughout.)

Killman says she’s been an alternate once, for a Free Duet performance in 2010, and found it to be quite challenging. “You have to know everyone's parts, and be able to swim as if you've always been there -- on a second’s notice! I think alternates deserve the most credit!”

It’s great to have a well-prepared Stewart waiting in the wings – but here’s hoping she’s not needed!

Tune in Sunday for Killman and Koroleva’s Technical Routine, to be followed by Free Routine Qualification on Monday and Finals on Tuesday. Below is the online schedule for watching the duet synchro-swimming competition live:

McKinney residents will be glued to their TVs, smartphones and computers, sending good luck vibes to Mary and Mariya.


About the author: Rick Atkinson is a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot and commercial airline pilot who lives in McKinney with his wife of 23 years, Debbie. He is a freelance writer and cartoonist.