I love this woman.
Ever since I understood what the Olympics meant.
Like a singer who listened to Whitney Houston’s National Anthem over and over again to psych them up for a performance (guilty!), I watched countless tapes/hours of Janet Evans zipping through the pool at the Olympics like a flying fish. I studied her stroke and wanted to mimic her style on and off the pool deck. I even chopped my hair once to look like her.
I can’t remember who gave me an autographed photo of her, it may have been a former Canadian Olympian Karen Ward who used to swim at our pool in New Canaan, Conn., but Evans was my hero.
Like many swimmers, Evans enjoyed the spotlight during Olympic years, and pretty much vanished back into obscurity when the Games ended. Michael Phelps has kind of broken this trend, though I challenge anyone who’s not competing themselves to name the last meet he swam in. We follow Phelps when he dates a new hottie or gets caught with a bong. I went to Evans’ website and in addition to being a full-time mom, she’s a motivational speaker. I follow her on Twitter and she’s waking up at 5 a.m., like so many of us did over the course of our swimming careers, to get in the best shape she can before Olympic Trials (June 25 – July 2 in Omaha, Neb).
Is she off her best times from 1996? Probably. Is she going to make the Olympics? Perhaps not. But for once, someone’s not in it to win it, and it’s kind of refreshing.
I know, I know, this sounds totally absurd, but as she said in the great New York Times piece, “It’s not about making the Olympics,” she said. “It’s about my body being able to do things that my mind is telling it to do.”
I love this mantra. And though I still have a few years to go before 40 hits me (it’ll be here faster than I know — 21 still feels like it was yesterday), I can totally relate to her attitude. A former teammate of mine from Virginia and devout reader of my blog is in training for a half-Ironman. She’s found discipline again, almost a decade after swimming ruled our lives.
“It feels right and it is empowering in ways I never realized when I was ‘younger,’” she wrote.
I haven’t found my “Olympics” or Ironman yet, but I plan on looking for it this year. Right now I walk my dog and a few others for Rascals, Inc., but I’m not doing anything physical or challenging for myself.
Thank you, Janet, for reminding us, to get after it. That age doesn’t matter, and that we don’t have to win the race to be fulfilled.