It’s not unusual for Olympic athletes to thank family members. But it is a tad rare when the family member they’re thanking is another Olympic athlete.
This Thanksgiving, Olympic swimmer and 2008 bronze medalist Caroline Burckle thanks her younger brother, fellow Olympic swimmer Clark Burckle, by writing him a hilarious yet touching letter, below, complete with a top 10 list of the pair’s best moments ever.
Narrowing it down to the 10 best ever is no easy feat, either, as there are a lot of shared moments between the Burckle siblings. The two grew up best friends and training partners in Louisville, Kentucky, where they both swam for the Lakeside Swim Club. Then they both went on to swim at the University of Florida. Then each made an Olympic team: Caroline in 2008 and Clark in 2012. And all through it, the duo continues to be best friends.
Read Caroline’s letter below and help celebrate the season of being grateful to family and friends.
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Look, I know two things for sure:
1) That the moment you came home from the hospital, I pointed to the kitchen cabinet and told Mom and Dad to ‘put you away’ and followed that with a beautiful tantrum that my 1.5 years of being the center of attention was OVER.
2) That THAT was the best day of my life.
I love that we are different. You have a logical mind and you find joy in memorizing every statistic in sports, studying stocks and reading business magazines. Me, I love exploring and adventuring in nature, all things fitness and communicating and creating artistically through any abstract medium possible.
Looking back, these differences allowed up to catapult each other to new levels in our lives— always “competing” with each other in a healthy way to become the most epic versions of ourselves possible. I know, you are probably rolling your eyes out of love at my sentimental soul right now, but guess what, #dealwithit. ‘Cuz throughout the past 30 years of my life, I have had you by my side to give me a swift kick-in-the-ass, a shoulder to cry on, a sarcastic attitude to banter with, the honest truth to handle and most of all, as a support system to push me to realize things about myself that I never would have seen possible.
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I want to keep this brief—less is more and #simple is best. Realistically, I could go on for days with hilarious memories and moments that stand out in my mind. However, I am going to throw a blazing 10 at you, or 10 memories, values and moments that come to the top of my mind that make me so grateful for YOU and your hilarious, inspiring and strategic Christopher Clark ways.
1. At age 10, you challenged all the ‘big kids; on the team to a ‘pro-dive contest’ at Lakeside. ALL DAY. And, winning. Every time.
2. You locked cats in Barbie 4-Wheelers and collected frogs and lizards and allowed them to pee on my floor, and caught crawdads in Pappa’s creek, keeping them in buckets for weeks (I won’t tell anyone).
3. Your bunk-bed, long-jumping adventure-gone-wrong led you to a knee wrapped in a baby diaper and a lovely ER visit on Derby Day.
4. We’re TEAMMATES. For life. You always had my back from Team LAK to UF and USA and beyond.
5. You were the FIRST PERSON I SAW after I made the Olympic Team in 2008. I will NEVER forget how excited you were. I think that was the fastest you’ve ever ran … just kidding.
6. When I visited you in Tucson, I discovered that you had found your niche. YOUR JAM. Your space. The male-swimmer, bro-house of the century.
7. You traveled with my 4-pound Yorkie-Poo through an airport … ‘Alyssa, he mentioned he realllllyyyy wants a tiny animal…’
8. I watched you win NCAA’s (and I peed in my pants while doing so) right after you caught the team-wide epidemic of norovirus from the airplane. You NEVER. GAVE. UP.
9. You ENJOYED YOURSELF while making the Olympic team in 2012. No words. I always knew it.
10. I did the Malibu Triathlon Relay with you—again, gettin’ after that teamwork.
I kept these nice and pristine—obviously. I mainly just want you to know that I look up to you and am darn blessed to call you my best friend. Cheers to many more fun times to come. I couldn’t have done ANYTHING without you by my side.
Super glad I didn’t put you in the kitchen cabinet, after all.
Excelle Sports lifestyle editor Kim Vandenberg is an Olympic bronze medalist, Pan American gold medalist, World Championship silver medalist and three-time U.S. national champion and French national champion in swimming. She’s also a member of Excelle’s Athletes Council.