Laguna Beach Olympic swimmer Janet Evans is back in the pool, with an eye on London.–By Somer Flaherty
This 40-year-old athlete is returning to swimming after the world last saw her compete internationally at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Considered one of the best distance swimmers of all time, at 15 years old Janet broke the world record in three distance swimming events; at 16 she won her first gold medal at the Seoul Olympics and holds five Olympic medals overall. If she makes the London team it will be her fourth Olympics.
However, the road to London isn’t easy. Each week Janet improves, but she won’t know until the U.S. trials, which start June 25 in Omaha, Neb., if she’s had enough training time to beat competitors half her age.
The training regimen that her coach, former national team director Mark Schubert, has set for her includes getting up at 4:30 a.m. for six-day-a-week workouts. She then goes home for a nap and spends the day with her kids, 5-year-old Sydney and 2-year-old Jake, before heading back to an afternoon practice.
“For me getting back in the pool was just such a release,” Janet says of her return to training. “I find my peace and solitude in the swimming pool.”
Janet’s former coach Mark had returned to Southern California and started coaching locally again just as she was eyeing her comeback. Since she began training again in August 2010, Janet says the entire experience has almost taken on a force of its own. “I could have just quit at any moment but there are so many forces that help me; my family is behind me and my coach is here.”
In the years since she last stood on the Olympic podium, Janet has been busy giving motivational speeches, something that has helped her in her own return to the pool. “In my speeches I talk about bumps in the road and the fact that there’s always going to be people telling you [that] you can’t do things,” she says. “It’s easy to not do something because it seems hard—so when I thought about swimming again I thought about this,” she says.
When not in the pool, Janet is like any other Laguna local, grabbing a bite with the family at Cafe Vienna or Watermarc and strolling Main Beach.
“We have a lot of friends in Laguna, and we live here because we wanted a nice place to raise our kids,” she says about settling down here. “Laguna has good family values, and we live in a great neighborhood with a great school system. It is a very simple way of life, it’s not complicated.”
Ready to hop in the pool? Janet Evans offers five tips:
1. Get a pair of small fins to develop better leg strength.
2. Swimming comes from your core—strengthen it with dry land work like Pilates.
3. Start out with low yardage and make it a goal to build up the length of your swims.
4. Join a swim club or master’s swim program.
5. Swim at least two days per week, but preferably three or four.
Swim circles around the competition
Whether you’re aiming to lose weight by logging yards in the local pool or seriously training for your next triathlon, outfit yourself with the right swim gear (and post-workout protein) for ultimate results. LB
Luna Bar: available at Whole Foods (283 Broadway St.; 949-376-7888; wholefoodsmarket.com).
Swim cap: available at Dick’s Sporting Goods (435 Newport Center Dr.; 949-640-1107; dickssportinggoods.com)
Vanquisher goggles by Speedo: available at Hobie Sports (294 Forest Ave.; 949-497-3304; hobie.com)
Dry land training with the full body rip trainer: available at Body Bar (481 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-8333; bodybarlaguna.com)