SEATTLE - She has been our colleague, our friend, and a local businesswoman.
It has been the life, after swimming, for Ariana Kukors. She spent the Sochi Olympics serving as a special correspondent for our local newscasts.
It was there, while watching the Olympic cauldron, that something sparked within the 25-year-old.
“(We) were standing together when the Olympic cauldron lit up, and I didn’t realize what the Olympics meant to me until that moment,” said the Auburn native. “I need to do this, it’s so amazing. I need to do this.”
This was something Kukors says was “swimming around” in her head: a return to competitive swimming.
Kukors hung up her swim cap after the London Olympics. The 200 IM World Record holder came in fifth and out of the medal running. She says now she was okay with that and realized she was trying to be as good as she was in 2009 when she set the record.
Ariana moved to Seattle and started up her own business. She also became a spokesperson for Lifewise and made numerous television appearances on their behalf.
But the pings started last fall and boiled over at the Games. She was doing work for KING 5 and, at the same time, also talked to fellow former Olympians about what it would take to make a comeback.
Then she says this month everything fell into place, and it was time to make it official. She was going to “un-retire” and return to the pool.
“The pool is the essence of my soul,” she said Thursday as she took a lap at the Colman Pool in West Seattle.
Kukors says she’s building up arm strength, before returning to full training on July 1.
The woman who briefly attended the University of Washington will move to Southern California and begin training at USC. Her close friend and decorated Olympic medalist Rebecca Soni will be nearby for moral support. Kukors hopes to return to tournament competition by next year.
She will hold her individual goals close to her swim cap, but it’s clear she is jumping into the pool with both feet.
“It’s home, will always be home,” said Ari. “I think I can do this.”