USA: the chances of 40-year-old Janet Evans, four times Olympic champion in 1988 and 1992, when she retained the 800m freestyle title, of making it to London 2012 are described by her coach Mark Schubert in straightforward terms in an interview with Beth Harris at Associated Press: "It's fair to call her a long shot."
Evans was a pioneer in many ways in her heyday: her 400m free world mark survived 1988 to 2006, her 800m mark 1989 to 2008 (and remains the best ever in a textile suit). Her return to the fray at world-class level is not to repeat history but to show that at 40 you can still be among the fittest and even fastest folk in water.
"The times I'm doing, I'm really proud of myself for 40 and to be with my two kids and have this be my job," she said. "It's pretty grueling being a distance swimmer." She has yet to crack 8:45 in the 800m. That may come after rest, says Schubert. "What she's done really well the last 18 months is dry-land training and strength training, and that is going to help her speed a lot," Schubert said. "She's tired from training right now, but I think in the end she's going to swim real well."
Harris reveals Evans' schedule, in keeping with the lot of distance swimmers, as something somewhat more rigorous that the regime of sprinters, such as Dara Torres, who make good in their late 30s and 40s. The wife of Billy Wilson and mum to the couple's two children (Sydney, 5, and Jake, 2), Evans is up at 4:30 a.m, in the pool for early morning training, home by 8 a.m, family life, then back in the pool 3 to 6pm before home to get the dinner ready. In between, she's on the sponsorship, endorsement, chart, inspiration trail. "Who does that?" said Schubert. "She's a maniac. That's just the best way I can describe it."
Why? Evans tells Harris: "As a mom, you put a lot of things on the backburner. I worked my whole life and I stopped when I had children. I miss working and for me work is swimming. For me just to stay at home, it's a personal thing. Some women can do it and some women can't. Because I've worked my whole life I need more."
She adds: "It's been a great journey, I have so many people that support me and depend on me and cheer for me. I've learned a lot and who says you can't learn at 40? I appreciate my family and time with my kids. It's been rewarding on so many levels."
Schubert, beyond his very successful days as general manager of Team USA and coach to Evans in the lead-up to Barcelona 1992, feels the same way: "I get up every morning excited, just seeing how dedicated she is. Nothing's changed as far as her personality and competitiveness, liking to train and liking to work hard. It's pretty fun watching her race against the younger kids, they really look up to her. I couldn't be prouder of her."
And if US Olympic trials in Omaha is the end wall for Evans as far as London 2012 goes (keeping in mind that nothing can take away her status as one of the greats of her sport, she has an even bigger prize to look forward to: "I go home and I have a little girl that is going to kindergarten next year," she tells Harris. "I get to hold my kids tonight." Nothing quite like it.
Dale Oen: The German magazine Der Speigel has issued an apology and correction after a report that 13 different pain killers were found in the blood of Alexander Dale Oen, the Norwegian world 100m breaststroke champion who died on the last day of April at a training camp in Arizona. In fact, there were no traces of pain medication. The report from a laboratory in Indianapolis, actually lists 13 substances of analgesics and detected levels and concludes "no positive findings of toxicological significance".
France: this weekend, Amiens coach Michel Chrétien, is taking his Olympic charges Jérémy Stravius, Ophélie-Cyrielle Étienne and Benjamin Stasiulis to Tenerife for a last training camp as a club group before final préparations for London 2012. The squad will return home in time for the Paris Open, on July 6-7. That meet will feature the entire France Olympic team and mark the completion of the form guide for London 2012.