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Walking With The Giant Steps Of Grevers

Dec 19, 2012  - Craig Lord

Back in the autumn in the calmer days after the rush of an Olympic summer Matt Grevers, the 100m backstroke champion who returned home from London 2012 with a second gold and a silver in his growing treasury, talked beyond the end result in an article at NS, the lifestyle outlet, that considers the constant support of family and coaching along the way. 

After he won a race at 10, Grevers recalls, he learned his first lesson. “They told me I was the fastest 10-year-old ever. I let it go to my head and it gave me confidence. Being naïve and young can be a blessing,” he tells NS. 

Since then, the support of family, friends and coaches has been key to Grevers' success. Every family member has played a role in my swimming,” he says. “The training was very difficult, but I was fortunate to have them guide me.” His mother Anja, a coach for more than 25 years and now based at Scout Aquatics Club in Lake Forest, found creative ways to wake him up for early morning swim practice, writes Elaine Doremus. 

“She’d have a smoothie ready for me, or put fruit by my bed to tempt me. She made me very conscious about nutrition, which a lot of kids overlook. But it’s so important,” says Grevers. “I formed a love of spinach.” Anja Grevers has been a swim coach for more than 25 years, currently coaching with the Scout Aquatics Club in Lake Forest.

The whole family played (and play) a part: sister Carolyn was an inspiration and is now head coach for the Lake Forest High School girls swim team, at the same pool where the Grevers spent their youth training. Grevers’ brother, Andy, a coach at University of Missouri, serves as "my therapist", says Grevers, adding: "I try and balance all my complaints between Annie [Chandler, his fiancee] and Andy."; and his father Ed, served as chauffeur and arms-length supporter.

In talking about the coaches who have helped him along the way, Grevers says: "…my coach Rick DeMont, in Arizona, opened the doors" DeMont, a world champion in 1973 a year after US team doctors let him down badly by giving him an asthma drug that caused him to test positive after he claimed the Olympic 400m free crown only to be robbed of it, turned his hand to art after his swimming days were done. 

You can see his fabulous work here. That eye for detail is key to DeMont's skill as a coach. Grevers says DeMont takes an artistic view to swimming, viewing every individual as having a different stroke, “both literally and figuratively”.

Read the full NS feature.