Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mark Has Been Busy

Hi everyone.  For those of you still checking back to see if there are new posts on the blog... here it is!  Mark has been so busy over the last 6 weeks since the Olympics that he has hardly been home, much less had time to blog as much as he'd like to.  To keep up with Mark and all of the exciting things that he is up to, please visit 

On this website you can see his crazy schedule and read his new blog.  I am constantly urging (he might call it nagging) him to take photos of his trips and travels.  There are new pics of his trip to Washing on his album page if you'd like to check it out.

We would also love feedback on the website.  What do you like about it?  What do you dislike about it? What more would you like to see?  Please leave a comment for us.  

Thanks for your continued support!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Hello all!

I know that I promised not to post again, now that Mark is back in the country, he has many more exciting stories for you, but I have some great news...


 I know, I know... you cannot contain your excitement, but it's true... the web address is:

Mark's website is pretty comprehensive and, like the blog, is very candid and real.  I think that you will enjoy his down to earth conversation, photos, and more.  As it is, is being registered with google, so please bookmark the address for easy access.

I hope all of you enjoy this peek into Mark's swimming and life and let us know if there is anything else that you'd like to see or hear from us.

I appreciate all of your support of Mark over the past few months and hope that this new website doesn't fail to meet your expectations.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pictures... finally!

Its been a busy few weeks since I have been back from Beijing. I have been running around signing autographs at local events, meeting Oprah (which is on TV Monday 09-08-08), and "livin' the dream". It has been amazing. I'm sure you all have thought that I forgot about my promise to post pictures from my Olympic experience...but have not fear... follow the link below to view some of my pics from training camps and the Olympic Games.


Friday, August 29, 2008

For your viewing pleasure... cheaper than a night at the movies

Hi again... this is Ashley. I thought you all would enjoy a couple of video clips from our trip. We were given a Flip Video. It is a tiny video camera, the size of a phone, we were able to take it everywhere with us. I got a few great clips of us exploring Beijing after Mark checked out of the Olympic Athlete Village.

This is our new friend Cindy. She isn't shy and manages to give Mark a great plug. I am thinking about hiring her as his publicist! Just Kidding!

This is Andy, the suit maker. And, yes, Mark did actually get the 2 suits and 4 shirts he ordered from the Silk Market. Andy came to our hotel room at midnight to do a fitting and the suits and shirts were completed and delivered to us the next morning at 8am. Andy was wearing the same outfit that morning that he was wearing the night before during the fitting. Mark claims that they are the best fitting suits and shirts he as ever owned!

The Great wall was AWESOME! All Mark could think of was how hard a dry land workout would be on top of the great wall... PK, Mark even claimed that he thinks he could beat Joe G in a race to the top!

Stay tuned... one day Mark will figure out how to post his pictures. He took almost 1,000 pictures- I can't wait for you all to see them!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Im back

Hello all this is Mark and I am back. I am guess that you guys will be asking for Ashley back in no time. It has been a great ride but I am very happy to be home and sleeping in my own bed. I guess it has been a while since I posted and I dont really know where to start. I have been really happy with the excitement that the blog has gotten. I am planning on keeping it up for as long as I can so you guys can keep up with where I am and where I am going.

As you guys saw the Olympic swimming was amazing. It was easily the fastest and deepest swim meet ever held. I heard that swimming was the main focus back in the USA which is amazing. I am so glad to have been a part of all of the excitement even though I didnt win eight gold medals. I would say after my 100 breast I really enjoyed going to the sessions just as a swimming fan. Being able to watch swimming of this level made me proud to have been part of it all. Swimming on the relay was also a ton of fun. I did not swim as fast as I would have liked but it is still an amazing experience to be a part of a USA relay at the Olympics. Watching the finals of the relays made me pretty nervous. The Aussies had a great team and swam a great race. I am just happy we came out on top.

After swimming was over Ashley and I spent a lot of time together. As she told you we were able to see some of the sights of Beijing and we were also able to get to some of the other sporting events (track and diving). In many ways it is more fun to be a part of the Olympics as a spectator. You can sit back and think about the scope of the Olympics and how much it means to much of the world. When you are competing you dont think about how big of a deal it is to be a part of it because if you do then it may hurt your performance. Going to the other sports made me realize this.

I am planning on doing some more posts coming up but right now thats all I have. I am going to put up some pictures that I though you guys would want to see (if I can figure it out). Enjoy and I will be back soon. Thanks again for all of your support.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vacation (with a twist of work)

Well, Mark is finally out of the athlete village and free to enjoy himself (a little bit). Mark checked out of the athlete village shortly after the last day of swimming on August 17th. The Gangloff/Rubenstein family went out to a great dinner that night. We went to a fun tea house where we saw folk music performers and a puppet show. It was a blast. The Gangloff's ordered a traditional Peking Duck and loved it so much they ordered a second one! After dinner we strolled through Tien An Men Square... it was beautiful at night. Mark was so funny because he was just so happy to be out of the village and actually free to walk around!

After dinner, Mark and I headed out to a party hosted by Speedo. We saw so many friends from the US, but also former Auburn teammates from other countries. Funny how the NBA guys were there also... I think they might have a crush on a few of the swimmers!

The family left the next morning, and after a long nap Mark and I headed out for the day. We ate lunch with Jeri and Eric and then Eric, Mark and I walked around the Summer Palace. It was spectacular! Our afternoon was perfectly relaxing as we slowly walked around enjoying being away from the city and spending time with our good friend Eric. We talked about our plans for when we return to the States and what lies ahead for Eric. Mark and I are so proud of Eric for being so strong through this difficult time.

That night we went to dinner with our friends Joe and Anne and some new American friends who are living in Beijing and a couple of their friends who are native to Beijing. We went to a fantastic pizza place in an awesome district of Beijing called Ho Hi. Think french quarter-Beijing style. It was great! There were rows of restaurants and bars. Everyone had set up a TV or screen out in the sidewalk to watch the Olympics. There was lots of music and fun... and lots of karaoke-- I was so tempted!

Yesterday Mark was back to work. He attended a media function at the Speedo headquarters here in Beijing and then we attended a great event hosted by Right To Play. Right To Play encourages sports to better develop children in poverty stricken and developing areas of not only the US but around the world. It was so inspirational hearing from athletes that use their influence and time and effort to help others.

Last night we got to see the finals of the men's 3 meter diving competition. It was awesome! The US guys, Chris and Troy, dove well but missed out on a medal. The Chinese crowd went crazy every time a Chinese diver performed-Chinese audience members were decked out in flags, face paint, and temporary tattoos.

Today I went back to the Great Wall with Mark. It was just as breathtaking the second time... Mark was blown away. After we did a "photo shoot" (the two of us acting ridiculous on top of the great wall and taking pictures of it) we, just like elite athletes do, picked a point and raced to the top... both of us were huffing and puffing!

This afternoon we are waiting on a tailor (we'll see if he shows up) that is making Mark a couple of suits (we think--we found this guy at the silk market and supposedly Mark is getting a couple of suits and four shirts for $350!!). If "Andy" shows up it will be a great deal... if not, Mark will be upset, but at least we'll have a great story to tell.

We leave for the States tomorrow and we're both ready to get back. Mark is excited to share his experiences with you as well.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Swimming Concludes...

The 2008 Olympic Games for the swimmers is now complete. It was a successful week for many of them. The 400 medley relay final was this morning (Mark swam on the prelim relay on Friday... the US prelim relay qualified first as they headed into finals). The relay, though I didn't have tickets, was spectacular with another world record and a gold medal. Mark, though he did not swim in the finals still received a gold medal for his efforts to get the team into the finals. He, like all elite athletes, always sees room for improvement in his performances, but sees the last four years and the last few weeks as a huge accomplishment.

Instead of going to the Water Cube to watch the event today (it was one of the hardest tickets to get because of the Michael's history-making event) mom and I went to the Forbidden City and took a rickshaw tour through a neighborhood. It was fascinating! We toured through a Hutongs where thousands of people lived. The guy driving our rickshaw told us that there is only 1 toilet and 1 shower for every 100 people. Can you imagine?! We saw children playing, women sewing, and small businesses such as bakeries throughout the neighborhood. The "streets" were so small that our tiny rickshaw could barely fit through them. Our "driver" told us that these neighborhoods were more than 500 years old.
After touring the Hutongs, mom and I actually sat down at a restaurant! We had dumplings and some kind of chicken... I think. Neither one of us knows how to use chopsticks, so mom used the soup spoon to eat her chicken and I poorly stabbed at my food with a chopstick. We are so proud of ourselves for eating real food (and all of you that have commented on our previous food diaries of french fries, Pizza Hut, and Zone bars should be proud of us too!).

This afternoon, now that swimming is over, Mark will check out of the athlete village and come to our hotel for the next few nights. We did have a chance to visit Mark in the village a couple of days ago. It is amazing. It is like its own city with a population of more than 15,000. Within the athlete village there is a huge dining hall where all athletes eat, a barber shop, post office, stores, a museum and anything else you might find in a small town. The athletes stay in apartments that are similar to college dorms. We had so much fun sitting in the dining hall with Mark and all of the other athletes. Mom sat next to Jason Lezack and was thrilled when Jason pulled his new bronze medal out of his bag and let her hold it.

Looking around, even though the village is great, we were even more amazed that these athletes were able to perform best times, best performances and record breaking races. Between the small living spaces, all of the traveling, cafeteria food and all of the walking I can see where it would be difficult to perform at your best... but many of these athletes do! When I think about it... I am more impressed with every event I see.

Mark and I will be sight seeing more in the next few days after my mother and the Gangloff's head back to the States tomorrow. Mark and I will stay until the 21st. I will probably post one more time and then I will pass the blog back over to Mark so that he can share his experiences with you. Thanks again for your support!