SB46 HALL OF FAMER: Janet Evans - Swimmer, Olympic Legend
I fall directly into the wheelhouse of someone who would be in awe of Janet Evans. Number one, I was a competitive swimmer for most of my childhood. Two, my childhood took place largely in the 1980s, when Janet Evans was a swimming rock star who held seven world records and finished her Olympic career with 5 medals, 4 of them gold.
Before Summer Sanders and Missy Franklin and Katy Ledecky and Simone Manuel, Janet Evans was THE swimming star for the United States for about a decade. But swimmers getting up crazy early to swim because of scarce pool time is nothing new. In fact, crack-of-dawn swimming is pretty much the only kind of swimming there is once you reach a certain level. So why is Evans a Hall of Famer if every other swimmer spends their early morning hours ripping off lap after lap too?
She's a HOFer not for what she did in her prime, but for how she trained for her comeback in 2012. It's easy (well, easier) to get up and be on time for a 6am swim practice when your number one priority in life is swimming. All serious swimmers get used to showing up to class in high school or college smelling of chlorine or with a half-frozen head of hair in the winter. That's just how it is...
But four years ago Evans attempted a swimming comeback with the goal of making the 2012 Olympic team. She was 40 years old and a mother of two small kids. So did she give up some time during the day to train and have someone else take care of the kids? Hell, no... That's not what SB46 Hall of Famers do.
Nope, Evans got up at 4:40am every day to head to the pool to bang out over 8,000 yards each morning before her kids even got up.
In a piece in the New York Times she says that turning 40 was difficult for her and that getting back in the pool really helped after 15 years of retirement.
Did she make the Olympic team swimming against kids half her age in the 800 meter freestyle? No. She finished 53rd out of 65 swimmers, and a full 45 seconds behind her own long-standing world record from 1989 (which has since been broken).
But making the team wasn't the point, as Evans said after getting out of the water at the Trials:
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. It's about trying something, and doing it, and being proud of what you've done."
Amen. And since most of Evans' preparation took place while the world slept, we're proud to induct Janet Evans into the SB46 Hall of Fame. For information about her books, her speaking engagements and her businesses, visit her website here: JanetEvans.com.
#SweatBeforeSix (or in this case #SwimBeforeSix)