Arlington Paralympian Competing in Tokyo — “Sydney Barta of Arlington is competing in four track and field events this week and next at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Barta, a 17-year-old student at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., will be competing in the 100-meter, 200-meter, discus throw, and shot put throw.” [Patch]
Pedestrians Peeved About Pushing Buttons — “Last Wednesday, Arlington County officials announced plans to roll back 78 automatic pedestrian phase activations, also known as ‘beg buttons,’ throughout the county… The chair of Arlington’s volunteer transportation commission, Chris Slatt, had choice words… ‘To use the start of school to justify this change and to claim it is to ‘improve walkway safety’ is, frankly, gross and unacceptable.'” [GGWash]
Police Investigate Saturday Robbery — “At approximately 11:42 p.m. on August 21, police were dispatched to the late report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 40 minutes prior, the male victim met with the suspect for the prearranged sale of sneakers. The suspect brought the victim down a residential hallway where the second suspect was waiting. The suspects then grabbed the victim, assaulted him and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from his person before fleeing into the building.” [ACPD]
Local Rookie Cop Saves Nine Lives — “From a rookie to a pro, a Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC) patrol officer, Taylor Brandt, is being hailed a hero amongst fellow colleagues and community members after saving 9 lives within one year of working on the streets. Brandt joined DC police in December 2019 as a resident from Arlington, Virginia.” [WJLA]
Historical Society Planning 9/11 Event — “The Arlington Historical Society annual banquet commemorates the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. We will hear about the events of the day and learn about how the Arlington community responded to the crisis. Eyewitnesses and first responders will recount their experiences as we honor the resilience of our community.” [Arlington Historical Society]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Though she has been a lifelong swimmer, Torri Huske never dreamed as a kid that she would go to the Olympics.
In fact, she doesn’t even remember the race when she first made an Olympic trials-qualifying time three years ago.
But winning the 100-meter butterfly at Winter Nationals in 2019 was “the first time I considered that I had the chance to qualify and compete,” she told ARLnow.
From then until this June, she focused on making the Olympic trials, repeating a mantra that “everything will take care of itself.”
And it did.
An 18-year-old Yorktown High School graduate and a lifelong member of the Arlington Aquatic Club (AAC), Huske represented the U.S. in three races in the recently-concluded summer Olympics in Tokyo. She and her team earned a silver medal in the women’s relay, she narrowly missed the podium in the 100-meter butterfly, and her mixed medley team came in fifth.
“I’m really happy, looking back on the experience. It was a fun time and I learned a lot,” she said.
Huske recalls exploring the Olympic Village and seeing the U.S. flag flying and hanging out in her room, where she played Uno with her suitemates during their downtime.
“The village was really cool,” she said. “We weren’t allowed to go outside it, but I got to know my roommates and suitemates really well.”
Even the coronavirus-related changes did not feel strange, she said. She slept no differently on the cardboard beds, and the camaraderie in the village kept the swimmers afloat during the races.
“It was weird with no spectators, but our team did a good job creating energy by cheering and having positive energy overall,” she said.
She returned to Arlington one week ago to a hero’s welcome. This week, she’s at the beach, taking her mind off swimming before she heads off to college.
“I’ve been working so hard for so long that I need a mental break — more than physically — to be excited to work again. Otherwise, I’ll be burnt out again,” she said.
But the races will keep her motivated while she swims for Stanford University.
“I’m grateful for all my races,” she said, even the new, co-ed mixed medley race, which “was hard for me to move on from.”
One specific technical change Huske said she’ll make is improving her ability to judge her distance from the wall, a lesson she learned from her 100-meter butterfly. Other than that, her body just has to absorb this competition experience into its muscle memory for future races.
“The more you race, the better you are, and the more you know what to do,” she said.
At the Olympic level, her AAC coach Evan Stiles explains, something as small as a last-second decision to glide for a few extra milliseconds instead of taking another stroke can affect a swimmer’s rank. Read More
Mistargeted Alert Wakes Up Arlingtonians — Numerous Arlington residents from around the county erroneously received an emergency phone alert about a boil water advisory in Northeast D.C. around 2 a.m. Thursday morning. [Twitter]
Huske Talks About Olympic Experience — “By coming so close to winning an individual medal, then earning a second-place silver on a relay team, Torri Huske’s rated her recent swimming experience at the Summer Olympic Games as a success for the 2021 Yorktown High School graduate. ‘It was all a really good learning experience, and I took a lot away from the Games, like needing to work on the little things,’ Huske said. ‘The swimming was different that anything I had been to before because it was spread out over nine or 10 days. I’m very thankful for what I got to do.'” [Sun Gazette]
Amazon Pushes Back Office Return — “Amazon.com Inc. revised its back-to-office timeline again and told employees it wouldn’t resume regular in-person work until Jan. 3, according to an internal message viewed by the Business Journal. The company had set Sept. 7 as the official return date, after announcing it expected employees to be in the office at least three days per week.” [Washington Business Journal]
Youth Baseball Team in Nat’l Championship — “I write to congratulate our 9YO Arlington Storm Black team on finishing runner-up in the Cal Ripken World Series! No team in [Arlington Babe Ruth’s] 36-year history has had as successful a season… We could not be prouder.” [Twitter]
ACPD Again Holding Community Police Academy — “The Arlington County Police Department is now accepting applications for the 25th Community Police Academy (CPA), formerly the Citizen’s Police Academy. The CPA is an educational program designed to create better understanding and communication between police and the community they serve.” [ACPD]
After heartbreak in a race last weekend, Arlington swimming phenom Torri Huske will be coming home with some Olympic hardware after all.
Huske was part of the U.S. women’s 4×100 medley relay team that won silver in a race that was televised nationally Saturday night.
The team was bolstered by a strong 56.16 second performance by Huske, who swam the butterfly leg of the medley, but came up just short of gold. The U.S. finished 0.13 seconds behind the Australian team, which set an Olympic record with a time of 3:51.60.
A week ago, Huske finished 0.01 seconds away from the bronze medal and 0.14 seconds from gold in the individual 100-meter butterfly race. The 18-year-old Yorktown High School grad, who will attend Stanford in the fall, was also on a mixed medley team that missed the medal podium this past week.
Reaction to the medal-winning relay performance via social media, below.
Yeah so all we saw in that race was MORE MEDALS FOR STANFORD
— Stanford Cardinal (@GoStanford) August 1, 2021
— Olympics (@Olympics) August 1, 2021
Yorktown High School grad Torri Huske appeared poised for victory in the 100-meter butterfly last night in Tokyo, but ended up just off the Olympic podium by a tiny fraction of a second.
The 18-year-old was out in front by a head down the stretch, but ended up finishing at 55.73 seconds, 0.01 seconds away from the bronze medal and just 0.14 seconds after the gold medal time.
Despite the disappointment, Huske is still early in her competitive swimming career. She will attend Stanford in the fall, swimming on the school’s elite women’s team, and will be a favorite to return to the Olympics in three years in Paris.
More from social media:
Wow, what a race. Torri Huske misses the podium by .01 seconds! pic.twitter.com/BYgA14UeoR
— Kelyn Soong (@KelynSoong) July 26, 2021
— Anthony D'Agostino (@ADagostinoTV) July 26, 2021
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 26, 2021
Torri Huske will be back. She’s going to be a superstar in Paris 2024.
— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) July 26, 2021
Big Changes Proposed for Shirlington — “A proposal to re-imagine the streets of Shirlington is being put forward. Last July, the Arlington County Board approved mixed-use rezoning for nearly ten acres of the Village at Shirlington. Now, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) is putting forth a vision to transform the streetscape throughout the area… Campbell Avenue will be the focal point for these improvements, updated with patterned pavers and interactive sculptures.” [UrbanTurf]
Yorktown Soccer in State Final — “Somewhere in the mess of bodies, Patriots senior Gibson Lusk poked the ball into the net. It gave Yorktown a lead for good and punctuated the full turnaround of a game that started slow and sloppy for the Patriots. Now, they are headed to the Virginia Class 6 title game after a 3-1 victory Monday.” [Washington Post]
Huske Reacts to Olympic Qualification — “In her first on-camera interview since returning from Omaha, Torri talked with 7News sports anchor Scott Abraham about her incredible journey to the Olympic Games. ‘At first it was very overwhelming, I feel like it’s just so unbelievable that this would happen to me of all people,’ Huske told Abraham… ‘I never thought I would be in this position and it’s really weird to think that some little kid looks up to you.'” [WJLA]
Feds Off Hook, But ACPD Still Being Sued — “A federal judge has dismissed multiple claims filed by protesters and civil liberties groups after law enforcement forcefully cleared demonstrators from Lafayette Square Park ahead of Donald Trump’s infamous photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church last summer…. The judge did allow litigation to proceed against D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and Arlington County Police, however.” [DCist]
Amazon Donated Antiracism Books to APS — “The emails show Amazon employees reached out to Arlington Public Schools as part of ‘NeighborGood,’ a program to donate $100,000 to schools and other institutions that ’empower black voices and serve black communities.’ Despite Amazon’s offer to purchase Kindles or other equipment, Arlington Public Schools director of diversity and inclusion Arron Gregory requested copies of [Ibram X.] Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. Amazon donated between 500-600 copies of the book to Wakefield High School and paid $10,000 to have Kendi’s coauthor Jason Reynolds address students.” [Washington Free Beacon]
Crystal City Metro Mural Finalists Selected — “Six visual artists have been chosen as finalists to paint a new mural at the Crystal City Metro Plaza, according to a release from the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID). The BID put a call out in May for individual artists or teams of artists to submit their credentials by June 1 so judges could determine if they had the experience and the chops to tackle the project.” [Patch, National Landing BID]
Memories of a Local Cicada Expert — “Ann thought of Allard recently because of one of his favorite subjects: the periodical cicada. She hadn’t realized he was an expert in Brood X. Then she found his 1937 paper in the American Naturalist journal. Ann posted her memories on Facebook’s ‘I grew up in Arlington, VA’ page and was surprised at how many other people from the neighborhood remembered the old scientist.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington’s own Torri Huske has set a new American swimming record and secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in Tokyo this summer.
The 18-year-old phenom, who’s graduating from Yorktown High School and is set to attend Stanford University, posted a time of 55.66 seconds in the 100-meter women’s butterfly at last night’s Olympic trials. It was the second night in a row in which Huske set an American record in the event on national television — she did so in the semifinals on Sunday night as well, with a time of 55.78 seconds.
“It was just really surreal, I just feel that it hasn’t even set in yet that I’m at Olympic trials,” Huske said in an interview. “So the fact that I’m now going to be part of the Olympic team and representing our country is just unbelievable. It hasn’t really sunk in yet… it was kind of just like shock when I touched the wall.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) June 15, 2021
Congratulations flowed in after Huske’s record-setting swim — down to Huske’s former elementary school in Arlington.
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) June 15, 2021
Huske has been smashing records during her high school career at Yorktown and at AAC. As of last year before the pandemic, she had yet to lose an individual race on the high school level. NBC Sports reports that she “used the extra Olympic year to become one of the U.S.’ fastest swimmers.”
Huske may yet have other events in which to compete in Japan. She is also competing at in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle races at the Olympic trials this week, as well as the 200-meter individual medley, according to the Washington Post.
Yorktown Grad Sets Record at Olympic Trials — “18-Year-Old Arlington Aquatic Club swimmer Torri Huske just exploded in the first heat of women’s 100 fly semifinals, breaking the American Record. After showing off her speed this morning, splitting under World Record pace on the first 50, Huske blasted a 55.78 to touch first tonight. The swim marks a personal best by nearly a full second, and makes Huske just the 2nd American of all-time to break 56 seconds in the event.” [SwimSwam, Twitter, Twitter]
Amazon Adopts Hybrid Office Schedule — “We’ve adjusted our guidance on our plans for returning to the office and added more clarity. Going forward, we’ve decided to offer Amazonians a mix of working between the office and home… Our new baseline will be three days a week in the office (with the specific days being determined by your leadership team), leaving you flexibility to work remotely up to two days a week.” [Amazon]
Arlington Man Imprisoned for Harassment — “For more than a decade, the employees of a Washington think tank were traumatized by an unlikely harasser: a career Foreign Service officer. In hundreds of emails and voicemails, he called them ‘Arab American terrorist murderers’ and ranted about how they should be cleansed. Yet there was almost nothing they could do.” [Washingtonian]
Marymount Gets Federal Grant — “Marymount University has established a new fellowship program to prepare Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduates to serve high-needs populations and meet the demands of a growing profession. A $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will fund 84 fellowships for students within the University’s School of Counseling.” [Press Release]
Reflections on Halls Hill History — “One of those local historians is Wilma Jones, who grew up in the mostly Black community of Halls Hill in Arlington, Virginia. Now the neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and Black families like hers have been pushed out. Today, Jones says it’s too late to save Grandma’s house, but it’s not too late to save her history.” [With Good Reason]
Vote: Favorite Outdoor Dining Spot — There’s one day left in the voting for this week’s Arlies category: Favorite Outdoor Dining Spot. [ARLnow]
Musical Send-Off for Kenmore SRO — “Kenmore Middle School students came up with a fun way to commemorate the retirement of School Resource Officer Jackie Pagan. They presented a musical dance number Friday, Jan. 11, as part of a flash mob.” [Patch, WJLA, Twitter]
Arlingtonian Has Olympic Aspirations — Arlington resident Sarah Anyan qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which will be held next month leading up to the Tokyo games this summer. [RunWashington]
Lots of Police Activity on Clarendon Nightlife — “The 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington County is a hot spot. There are bars, restaurants, and a metro stop all in a block radius… there’s also a surge of calls to Arlington county police, and problems that lead to those calls in the first place.” [WUSA 9]
Del. Levine Pushing Minimum Wage Bill — “A state delegate’s proposed bill to allow localities to set their own minimum-wage levels, provided they do not dip below the federal government’s level, has drawn a tentative response from one local official and outright opposition from two chambers of commerce…. But not everyone agrees with the thrust of [Del. Mark] Levine’s bill. Kate Bates, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, said chamber leaders oppose the legislation.” [InsideNova]
Beyer Tapped for Economic Committee — “Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today recommended Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) to serve as the Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee… The Speaker’s recommendation must be confirmed by a vote of the full committee to take effect.” [Rep. Don Beyer]
The two-time Paralympian athlete won a Gold medal for the 50 meter backstroke as well as a Silver medal for the 200 meter freestyle. Gialamas said she began the multi-event Games with her best race, the backstroke, and finished the with another strong race, the 200 meter freestyle.
Coming in at 47.65 seconds during the backstroke, she also set a new Parapan record.
“I haven’t swam that fast since 2015,” she told ARLnow, adding that “I ended up with a gold in the 50 meter backstroke, so I was really really happy.”
Gialamas was born with arthrogryposis, a condition which keeps some of the joints in her leg from moving easily and began swimming as physical therapy but said she found freedom in the water. When in the water, she says she relies on upper body strength instead of her legs.
By day, she works as a sales consultant with Cigna in McLean where she’s “really blessed” by her coworkers’ enthusiasm of following the race and her company’s support. Netting a medal and a record was also proof the 24-year-old athlete could juggle both worlds.
“To be able to come back and show that you can do both and I can swim just as fast as when I had a full time job as when I didn’t have a full time job made it worth it,” she said.
Gialamas’ balancing act is notable considering she was among the oldest on her team — a fact teammates teased her about.
“I was called Mom a lot of times on the trip and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,'” she said.
The Illinois-born swimmer said there wasn’t much time to explore Lima between the team’s dawn-till-dusk schedule, but she did bring back one souvenir: a nasty cold.
For now, Gialamas says she’s going to catch up on sleep, take a month to recoup from her training regime that’s split between Arlington and Baltimore, and consider what she wants to do next.
“I’m really happy with how it turned out, she said. “I’m just trying to focus on where the next steps take me, and I think that’s a good way to do it because I’m just happy with how I swam and how I respected Team USA.”
Arlington resident and Paralympian swimmer Alyssa Gialamas is flying to Peru this week for the Parapan American Games.
Gialamas, 24, is a two-time Paralympian who competed in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games. Now, she’s off to Lima to compete in the Parapan games from August 23 to September 1 — a competition she says many para-athletes use to prepare for the next Olympics.
“I made my first Team actually at the Parapan games in Guadalajara in 2011,” Gialamas said of the competition where she won four silver medals and which led her to her first Paralympics.
A Chicago native, Gialamas was born with a condition called arthrogryposis, which prevents some of her joints from moving freely. Her parents started her swimming at three years old as a form of physical therapy.
“I’ve always loved the water, and felt free in the water, and felt like I can do anything I want,” she said. “I think that’s why I stuck with it for so many years.”
Gialamas uses long leg braces on land and joked that she actually thinks, “my body works better in the water than it does on land.”
“In the water you’re limitlessness,” she said. “There’s nothing holding you back.”
Because of the way arthrogryposis affects her legs, Gialamas doesn’t use them when she swims, instead relying on upper body strength.
Since diving into the competition eleven years ago with the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, Gialamas won six Illinois state high school championships, and held 22 American records for short and long-course swimming.
At 17 years old, she competed in the London Paralympics, coming in fifth place in the 200-meter freestyle competition. Four years later, she competed again in Rio. After both Paralympics, she met then-President Obama together with the rest of Team USA, an experience she described as “absolutely incredible.”
— Alyssa Gialamas (@AlyssaGialamas) November 2, 2016
This year she faces a new challenge: balancing her work schedule with her training goals. Although Gialamas lives in Arlington, she works as a sales consultant with Cigna in McLean and still trains at her Loyola University Maryland college swim team facility in Baltimore two days a week.
“I’ve seen a lot of sunrises,” she jokes, explaining that the schedule means working out of the McLean office three days a week, and out of the company’s Baltimore office two days a week. Every day she aims to arrive at the Baltimore pool, or at the Washington-Liberty High School pool near her Arlington apartment, at 5:30 a.m.
“Because of that I want to swim fast and show people that not only can I work a full-time job, but I can stay as fast as possible,” she said.
“Alyssa has overcome obstacles that would deter most, but these challenges have only fueled her competitive spirit as she sets out to accomplish her lifelong goals,” said Cigna’s Mid-Atlantic Market President Monica Schmude, who added that the health services company is “very proud” of Gialamas and is committed to employee health.
This year’s games will also be a bit different thanks to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s recent name change to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, to include all of the games’ athletes. The renaming comes a year after the organization increased Paralympian prize earnings to equal Olympians’ pay.
“It’s funny that it only added a ‘p’ to the name, but it’s a very big deal,” said Gialamas.
The Arlington athlete is scheduled to depart on Wednesday for the next challenge in Lima, and will race in the 50-meter backstroke and 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle events.