Winnetka’s Dwyer begins counting down days to Olympics
Conor Dwyer looks up after he competed in the preliminary heat of the men's 200-meter individual medley during the Olympic Trials at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. | Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Updated: August 6, 2012 11:24AM
Conor Dwyer still is catching his breath from the biggest week of his life.
The 23-year-old Loyola graduate qualified for his first Olympic Games last week in Omaha, Neb., at the CenturyLink Center, first by taking second place in the 400-meter freestyle and later as part of the 800-meter freestyle relay.
So many emotions overwhelmed Dwyer last week at the U.S. Olympic Trials that he remained in the recovery phase Monday morning.
“It’s pretty crazy knowing I am going to the Olympics,” he said. “I am a little tired. It was a stressful week, and it was stressful on my body.
“But now I can focus on the Olympics.”
The Winnetka native first set his sights on the London Games four years ago at the trials. After graduating from the University of Florida in 2011, Dwyer turned all of his attention toward swimming.
Later this month, Dwyer will join Michael Phelps on the same relay team in London. Perhaps the best swimmer of his generation, Phelps owns 14 gold medals from two Olympic Games.
“What’s he’s done is so impressive, and it’s cool to be swimming with him,” Dwyer said. “I have earned the right to be on that relay. But having the best swimmer of all-time on your team helps.”
Dwyer also will swim with Ryan Lochte, another former Gator swimmer, and Ricky Berens on the relay, which starts competition July 31. The preliminaries for Dwyer’s 400 free event are July 28.
Until then, Dwyer will make trips to Gainesville, Fla., where he lives, and then to Knoxville, Tenn., to train. The U.S. swim team then travels to France before heading over to England.
“I will be doing longer, more aerobic workouts,” Dwyer said. “There won’t be as much intensity in them because I will be trying to get back my aerobic base after last week.”
Dwyer couldn’t have asked for much more than what he accomplished last week in Omaha, especially sharing the experience with his family and friends. He was cheered on by his grandparents, Jim and Sally Dowdle, his parents, Pat and Jeanne Dwyer, and all his siblings.
Also in attendance was Patrick Stein, a former Loyola swimmer whose athletic career was cut short after suffering a brain aneurysm in October of 2010.
“The crowd was awesome,” Dwyer said. “They took some of the stress off to know they were up in the stands.
“It was great for Patrick, too. What I am doing is nothing compared to the struggles he’s going through. It makes you realize there are bigger and more important things in life than swimming.
“I just try to go out there and have fun with it and represent our country the best I can.”