With 64 days to go until the London Olympic Games, two hopefuls counted down by taking a lap around the pool — on the TODAY plaza.
Swimmers Brendan Hansen and Elizabeth Beisel joined Natalie Morales in the water to talk about their bid for a spot on Team USA.
Hansen, 30, was rumored to retire after winning a gold medal in Beijing.
“I think after 2008 I decided I was going to retire,” he said. “Triathlons kind of took over my life and then I realized that I was in the fittest shape I could possibly be in. So here I am, I’m ready to go to the Olympic Games. I just knew that I couldn’t stay at home and watch it on TV.”
Hansen, a former world record-holder for breaststroke and a four-time Olympic medalist, won silver in Athens for the 100-meter breaststroke, bronze for 200-meter breaststroke and a gold in the medley relay. He went on to win another gold in relay in Beijing. Today, he has new goals for London.
“Maybe beat that,” he told Morales. “We have a very strong team going to London, we’re excited about that, we’re probably the strongest we’ve ever had. It’s going to be an exciting time to be there, be part of it; it’s going to be an exciting time to be in a USA sport.”
Elizabeth Beisel, the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic swim team in Beijing at the age of 15, is now 19. Just seconds shy of the podium in Beijing, Beisel says she’s looking to win a medal this time around. “I don’t care what color,” she said.
Beisel said watching Michael Phelps get his 8th gold medal was a big part of making her Beijing experience so special. Hansen, who was part of the relay team that helped Phelps win, couldn't help but take credit: “I’m the reason,” he joked.
Hansen knew the stakes were high in that competition. “I think I was swimming for the USA but everybody wanted to see (Phelps) win that eighth gold medal.” Swimming that day, he said, “every one of us was like, ‘Do not screw this up.’”
Now back in the water, the breaststroker’s odds are looking good. He’s bringing his recent national championship wins to the pool, as well as his famous style, which incorporates a kick that is narrower than most swimmers'. He gave Morales a quick lesson in the TODAY pool, telling her that mastering the breaststroke is just like being a frog.
TODAY.com contributor Jillian Eugenios could probably pull off pretending to be a frog, and wonders if that means she should start training for the Olympics herself.