PHOENIX, Arizona, July 15. PARTING from a couple days profiling primarily distance Olympians, Swimming World today takes a look at two Team USA members competing in the shortest race the swimming pool has to offer: the 50 freestyle.
Perhaps the biggest "comeback" of 2012 was when Anthony Ervin decided to make a bid at his second Olympics. Typically, going for a second Olympics is standard if a swimmer stays involved in international competition after the Games. Ervin's second attempt at the Olympics, however, came twelve years after his first.
Before qualifying this year to represent Team USA in the 50 freestyle in London, Ervin was best known for his Sydney 2000 gold medal tie with teammate Gary Hall Jr. in the sprint event. He followed this with two World Champion titles the following year, in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
Then Ervin shocked the swimming community when, in 2003, he hung up his cap and goggles after his collegiate eligibility with the Cal Golden Bears ran out.
"I've repeatedly said I wasn't making a, quote, comeback," Ervin told USA Today before his first swim in Omaha. "Returning to competitive swimming was kind of, it was a slow process."
Perhaps it was a slow process getting back into the pool, but the time Ervin spent out of it is definitely worth telling.
Ervin moved to New York shortly after retiring, where he taught at Imagine, a learn-to-swim school based in TriBeCa. He credits his interactions with the children as helping push him back between the lane lines. In 2007, he returned to Cal to finish up his degree and contacted women's coach Teri McKeever to see if her could "train with the girls."
I guess the rest is history.
Ervin swam the 100 and 50 freestyle at trials, commenting to Swimming World after his 100 that "It was rough, but I'm just knocking some dust and rust off."
He followed this "rusty" swim with continued improvements in his 50 freestyle throughout the meet, culminating with a remarkable second-place finish by one one-hundredth to winner Cullen Jones. Silver, and a ticket to London were the results.
"I'm so happy," Ervin commented to the media after the race. "It's been an incredible journey, and the journey gets to continue."