Six-time Olympic medalist Matt Grevers comes out of retirement to compete at US swimming trials

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Matt Grevers had a different perspective on the U.S. Olympic swimming trials this time around.

Returning to the pool at age 39, the six-time Olympic medalist competed Thursday in the preliminaries of the 50-meter freestyle without the least bit of pressure.

He didn't come close to advancing to the semifinals, tying for 47th out of 82 swimmers who competed in the all-out dash from one end of the pool to the other.

Grevers touched in 22.82 seconds, 1.12 behind top qualifiers Michael Andrew and Ryan Held.

The time wasn't really all that important. Grevers ended his three-year retirement from competitive swimming for the chance to swim in an NFL stadium and catch up with old friends without all the expectations that came along with being a leader of the U.S. team.

“It’s cool to know at 39 that my body definitely still has it,” Grevers said. “It’s just what are you willing to put into it. So it was really fun to make the (trials), really fun just to know I get to swim here, hang out with a lot of friends, walking on the pool deck, saying hi to all the coaches and older athletes. It felt kind of like a homecoming.”

Grevers was inspired by Gabrielle Rose, the oldest swimmer at the trials at age 46.

Rose, who competed in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games, advanced to the semifinals in both of her breaststroke races, drawing large, appreciative cheers each time she walked across the deck.

“Gabby's cheer when when she went out for semifinals, it was like one of the loudest ones of the meet,” Grevers said. “So people are rooting for the old guys just to see what you can do. Like, hey, you’re almost 40 and you're able to push your body to that level. I think everyone can kind of then picture themselves and say, ‘Hey, what I can do if I was eating or training a little more carefully?’”

Grevers won two golds and a silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and repeated the feat four years later in London, including a victory in the 100 backstroke.

With limited time for training, he focused on meeting the qualifying standard for the 50 free at these trials rather than his signature backstroke event.

After all, this was about the experience, not the result.

“Just to be in this environment without that much pressure is super refreshening," Grevers said. "Just a really great time.”


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