It’s been 15 years since Janet Evans last swam competitively, but that’s not going to stop the Olympic gold medalist, now 40, from pursuing her competitive dreams once again. Evans, a wife and mother of two, will compete in the Olympic Trials this week for a spot on the 2012 London swim team.
The journey began two years ago, when Evans attended a swim meet and realized that the winning times were about the same as what she had competed with back in her heyday. That’s when Evans texted her former coach, Mark Schubert, and asked him if she could “do this,” CNN reports.
His response? “You’ll never know unless you try.”
” ‘You’ve had your time.’ I’ve heard that a lot,” Evans tells CNN. “For me, it’s a question of confidence and knowing that my legacy will be intact. [It’s] being proud of the fact that at 40, I can come back and actually swim with 17-year-olds and keep up.”
Evans was only 17 herself when she swept the Women’s 400m Freestyle, 800m Freestyle, and 400m Individual Medley at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She continued her successful streak with a silver medal (and another gold) at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Although she didn’t medal at the 1996 Olympics (and retired soon after that), Evans was able to use her post-retirement fame to embark upon a successful career as a motivational speaker.
Other than her new career, however, Evans hasn’t changed all that much.
“Her attitude is exactly the same as it was when she was younger,” says coach Schubert. “I think Janet is going to amaze everyone with how fast she can swim.”