JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.
She dives into the pool, as the cool water envelopes her body and she begins to feel weightless. She comes to the surface kicking and pulling, feeling the water begin to rush past her as she picks up speed until she’s at a full sprint… Preparation to be the fastest in the world has begun.
“My mom threw me into a pool when I was a small child, and I’ve been swimming ever since,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Genevieve Miller, 17th Intelligence Squadron deputy flight commander. “But I've been swimming competitively since I was five or six on a club team.”
Miller has been swimming all her life, and now she will get the opportunity to represent the United States during the 7th Conseil International du Sport Militaire Military World Games in Wuhan, China. The games span across 15 days, beginning Oct. 15, 2019 and concluding Oct. 30, 2019.
“It's a really awesome opportunity to be able to represent my unit, Langley, the Air Force and the United States,” Miller said. “I mean, what greater honor is there than that?”
Similar to the Olympic Games and held one year prior, the CISM Military World Games is a multisport event hosted every four years.
“The motto for the games is friendship through sport,” Miller said. “Ultimately, it's just a great way to bring all the countries of the world together for friendly competition. At the end of the day, it's just a nice way to bond and get to know people from different cultures.”
The previous games hosted in Mungyeong, South Korea, in 2015, had more than 7,000 participants from more than 100 countries spread across 24 events.
During the competition, Miller will be competing in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle, as well as being part of a few team relays.
“When you're training for a big event, you can't really just start training two weeks before and think you're going to do well,” Miller said. “Ideally, I would have had at least a year of just focused training for this event. Unfortunately, it's been more like three months of unfocused training with everything going on.”
As an intelligence Airman, Miller works different hours than most, making it hard for her to get the best training.
“Ideally, it would be three to five hours a day, with two to three doubles (two workouts a day) a week and a long three to four hour Saturday practice,” Miller said. “But now it's been more like an hour and a half to two hours if I'm lucky and then a quick, two to four mile run every day.”
All while juggling her military life and personal life, Miller continues to train as much as possible.
“The most important thing I kept in mind as I trained is that I am representing something bigger than myself,” Miller said. “Excellence in all we do, that's coming from adequate preparation. You have to train and be willing to put in the time.”
According to Miller, along with her leadership supporting her and giving her the opportunity to participate in an event at this magnitude, her sister was the one that kick-started her participation.
“My biggest supporter is my sister,” Miller said. “She's the one who encouraged me to apply for [the games]. I didn't even know it was a thing until she [told me to apply].”
While swimming tends to be an individual sport, Miller does have a team. Her team consists of U.S. military members of different branches from many different military installations.
“At the end of the day, all the branches have the same goal,” Miller said. “This is just kind of a nice reminder of that. Put the rivalry aside and remind everyone why we're together.”
As her workout comes to an end and as she finishes her last lap, her arms are barely moving. As her muscles are suffering, she’s hardly able to pull any water as she reaches the wall.
Her body sure knows she had a tough workout and her mind knows she did the best she could, because that’s what it takes to compete at the 7th Conseil International du Sport Militaire Military World Games.