by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
This weekend, Northwestern inducted former swimmer and Olympic champion Matt Grevers into its Athletic Hall of Fame, along with booster Pat Ryan, softball player Garland Cooper and lacrosse player Kristen Kjellman.
Grevers was a four-time NCAA champion at Northwestern and holds six individual school records. He’s a two-time Olympian, having competed for Team USA in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012. He won silver in the 100 backstroke, gold in the 4x100 freestyle relay and gold in the 4x100 medley relay. In 2012 he won gold in the 100 backstroke, silver in the 4x100 freestyle relay and gold in the 4x100 medley relay. The 2012 4x100 medley relay, he raced with Michael Phelps in Phelps’ last race.
InsideNU sat down with Grevers on Saturday for a short Q&A on Northwestern, the Olympics and life as a gold medalist
When you were in school, did you imagine this kind of ceremony happening for you?
No, not really. I’ve always had dreams of going to the Olympics and winning a gold medals. I never thought about what would happen after. I guess sort of the glory moments was not what I was thinking about; I was thinking about the gold. So no, I never imagined the kind of warm welcoming and praise I would get here at Northwestern or anywhere else. It’s been a pretty neat experience.
What kind of support did you get from the Northwestern fans and your old teammates during the Olympics?
Nothing but positive support and encouragement and confidence. It’s been great and it’s well-heard. They reach out and it’s really cool having such a great program like Northwestern backing you all the way through. It’s definitely a great strength to have.
During the 100 backstroke in the Olympics, once you realized you won, what was going through your head?
Pretty much that whole last 50 I knew I’d won, just because I looked around and I could see it. It was cool. It was a dream come true. It was something I’d been aiming for as an actual, serious goal since I was 10 years old. So it’s 17 years of one real goal in mind, and to finally accomplish that meant the world to me.
It was a moment I won’t forget, and you know when you have an adrenaline spike? This was like that adrenaline spike but 10 times more. Like, no matter how tired I’d get at the end of the race, I could still jump up and get super excited about the victory. So it was a really cool experience that I probably, I’ve never gone skydiving, but I’m sure it’s probably similar to that — a full-body thrill.
Has life changed since you won gold in London?
Yeah it’s a little different. I’m more recognizable. Since I’m tall, it’s like the first cue. Someone’s like, “Well, he might be a basketball player or someone important.” So then they kind of figure out with my dead hair and they’re like, “Oh, you’re a swimmer,” and they’ll kind of piece it together.
It’s really neat. It’s all positive things. It’s not like I’m getting ambushed to sign autographs all the time, nothing like that. It’s always great comments and good to meet great people.
Has training for the 2016 Olympics been different since you’ve already accomplished your goal of getting individual gold?
It is, to be honest it’s a little harder. The same hunger and desire isn’t there yet for me. At this point last quadrenium ago I had gotten silver and I was real hungry to get gold. But now that I got gold, I’m still wanting to swim well and I’m wanting to make Rio games, but the drive has softened up a big, to be honest. So hopefully, I’m sure it’ll come back soon enough.