Olympic torch in town | PostIndependent.com

Olympic torch in town

Dennis Webb

It was a swim that took the breath away from some 1,500 spectators, and even left an Olympian short-winded.

When George DiCarlo backstroked the length of the Hot Springs Pool Feb. 2, it must have felt a little like the movie “Groundhog Day” to him – would it ever end?

“This is the longest pool I’ve ever been in,” DiCarlo said later. And at 38, he wasn’t in the kind of swimming shape he was in his Olympic days.

One more thing: He was carrying the Olympic Torch in one hand, making a concerted effort to keep the flame above water.

DiCarlo’s swim was one of the most unique ways the flame traveled on its way to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. And he was among the more high-profile people to carry it through Glenwood.

A more notable Olympian carried it on its final Glenwood leg, to the festivities at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. Just like DiCarlo, wrestling gold medalist Rulon Gardner won over Glenwood residents as a gracious celebrity during the Torch Relay. Glenwood residents responded in turn by delivering Gardner a get-well card when he suffered frostbite in his feet later in the winter after becoming stranded during a snowmobile outing.

What made the torch’s visit special as it wended its way through Glenwood, Carbondale, Rifle and other Western Slope communities was not just the notable personalities who carried it. Also participating were our friends and neighbors, people picked to carry the torch because they are inspirations to others.

Both young and old were represented. So were war veterans, pastors, teachers, health care professionals, and even a maker of Olympic bicycle frames. Some were athletes, others were people who have faced down disease and disability with a brave face and upbeat attitude.

And their families and friends were there to cheer them on for that one shining moment when they, and they alone, carried the flame that would eventually light the cauldron in Salt Lake City, for all the world to see.

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