Tomorrow is a big day for U.S. swimmer Janet Evans. The 40-year-old mother of two will come out of retirement after 15 years and try to qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games. We caught up with Evans before the trials to talk about her training thus far and most importantly, why she’s hopping back up on the starting block again.
Why have you decided to get back in the pool after all these years off from competitive swimming?
I decided to retire after the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. At that time I was 24, I had done everything I thought I wanted to do and I was ready for something new. I took time to travel the world, get married, have two beautiful children and enjoy my family. But a few years ago, I realized that I had put swimming on the back burner, and because it is a part of who I am, I wanted to bring it back to do something for myself. My family is everything to me, but I think it’s important for all moms to follow their passions, and I’m lucky enough to have a family that supports me in doing so.
What have you missed the most about competing?
I really missed the team camaraderie, and the passion and the thrill of the competition. It was such a big part of my life and personality when I was growing up, and I enjoyed being around people who shared that similar passion.
Anything you missed the least?
The lack of sleep! It wasn’t bad in my 20s when I could come home after practice and head to bed, but now I want to hang out with my family, make dinner and help the kids with their homework. I love it all and I love being busy, but I am definitely sleepy most of the time!
What are some of the top fitness and nutrition tips that have helped keep you in shape during your time off?
I didn’t do too much swimming during my retirement, but I did stay physically active and kept up a healthy diet, so it wasn’t too difficult to get back into the swing of things this time. I think the biggest change has been being more cognizant about my health. You really take it for granted when you are younger, but now I’m 40 and its something to keep top of mind. I have regular checkups, I cleaned up my diet even more and I try to get as much sleep as possible. I also have a family history of heart disease, so I’ve been supplementing my diet with fiber through Metamucil to help lower my cholesterol and take care of my heart.
What’s your training been like to get ready for the trials?
I wake up at 4:30 a.m. every day and head to the pool to train with my coach for about two hours, plus another hour on dry land doing weight training. Later in the afternoon I head back to the pool for another two hours of training. In total, it’s about five hours a day and ten miles of swimming!
How do you juggle family time during your training?
My family is awesome and I could have never done this without their support. I’m fortunate because my split morning and afternoon training schedule allows me to be back at home during the day to get my kids off to school, run errands, pick them up again and enjoy some free time with them. It’s all about being organized and having a game plan ahead of time! I keep lots of lists and calendars on my phone and pre-plan our healthy dinners, pick-up schedules and other appointments. My parents have also been a huge help with the kids and my husband is a trooper and my main source of encouragement.
For a schedule and more information on the U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials, visit usaswimming.org.