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Distance Superstar Janet Evans Returning to Competitive Swimming in Masters -- November 4, 2010

PHOENIX, Arizona, November 4. WHILE rumors have run rampant lately in the online swimming community that Janet Evans is making a comeback, Swimming World has confirmed and can report that Evans is in fact returning to competitive swimming in Masters.

Her current plan is to train to compete at the 2011 United States Masters Swimming SCY Nationals to be held at the Kino Aquatics Complex in Mesa, Ariz., April 28-May 1. She will be competing primarily in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle events.

Evans is also giving the 400 IM a go, and will be looking to take advantage of the new technique and underwater pullout rules in the breaststroke that have come into play since her retirement.


While some might be dreaming of Evans jumping directly into the Olympic path with eyes toward the 2012 London Olympics, she is taking first things first with a foray into Masters swimming. The potential for even more elite competition is definitely still on the table, as Dara Torres proved with a similar path in her recent comeback bid that ended with an Olympic berth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Torres first returned to the pool in Masters competition after retiring from Olympic-level competition after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. After finding herself back in elite-level form much quicker than she might have thought to begin with, Torres decided to give an Olympic run a shot. That decision led to three silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, one in the 50-meter free.

Evans has an amazing resume as one of the greatest swimmers of all time. She holds four Olympic gold medals as well as a silver, and has won five world titles. She earned World Swimmer of the Year from Swimming World Magazine in 1987, 1989 and 1990. When she first retired after the end of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she had owned seven world records along with 45 U.S. national titles.


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November 4, 2010 WOW!! Greatest swimming story of all time!!!

WELCOME BACK TO THE QUEEN OF DISTANCE SWIMMING!!

I had the chance to see her competing..amazing swimming..and, if anything, her arm-recovery is the technique being copied these days!!!

I really hope she achieves whatever goals she sets for her!! And I hope she does include Olympics in them....

Above all, I am glad to hear these great news!!!
Submitted by: nadador
November 4, 2010 if she puts her mind to it why not the Olympics? Just look at Dara!
Submitted by: philipmj24
November 4, 2010 sure it's a long shot but if she puts her mind into it, why not the Olympics? look at Dara!
Submitted by: philipmj24
November 4, 2010 I hope Janet is successful in Masters competition but to think about London for her is really dreaming a bit big.

It's one thing for Grandma Dara to be competitive @ 40 in events like the 50-100 frees but Janet is not a sprinter nor has she ever been, save perhaps at a very very young age.

Trying to make the U.S Olympic team in the 400-800frees/400 IM @ 35 ...good luck.

I believe a certain septuple Olympic gold-medalist from a few moons ago whose nameescapes me at present tried to come back a mere 13-14 years after he retired following Munich and didn't get anywhere NEAR qualifying standards, let alone actually swimming in the 1996 Olympic Trials.

Nothing's impossible -- I believe Zenyatta'l CRUSH the boys like an ant in the Breeders' Cup --but Janet Evans swimming @ London?

That I'd PAY to see.
Submitted by: slickwillie32
November 5, 2010 I am just glad that she sounds like she is loving swimming again and I am definitely curious to see how far she can take it again.
Submitted by: The Screaming Viking!
November 5, 2010 Slickwillie32:
You are of course referring to Mark Spitz, yes he tried to make a comeback in '92 and didn't manage it. However, he had to improve on the times he swam in'72 whereas in Janet's case if she swims there or thereabout her previous times she will be at or near the top at present.
With dedication and the right motivation I would not be surprised if she can make a successful comeback. At 35 this is quite possible, 35 is still young!
Submitted by: scotswim
November 5, 2010 Let us not forget that the news here is about her finding her love/passion for swimming. And for that alone I am glad.

Swimming in general (not only Masters) has a lot to gain.

No one has the right to pre-determine what she can do or achieve or even what goals she has for herself.

CERTAINLY, NO ONE CAN CAST DOUBTS ABOUT THE CAPABILITIES OF ONE OF THE GREATEST SWIMMERS OF ALL TIMES. HER TIMES FROM BACK THEM ARE STILL VERY VERY COMPETITIVE THESE DAYS! THAT SAYS A LOT!!

If she wishes to, and manages to just swim those times.....One can only wish her all the best.

As for Slickwillie32...well, I, for one, am tired of all his negative/nonsense/naysay comments...
keep on crying woulf, kid! Otta´boy! Way to go!!
Submitted by: nadador
November 5, 2010 @slickwillie: Your assumptions seem off the mark. Distance athletes have a well-established record of sustaining elite level performances far longer than sprinters. Take a look at distance running (or any other endurance sport). World class distance athletes in their 40's are not uncommon. Sprinters are another story. In my opinion, Janet has a great shot of making the 2012 team if she sets her mind to it.
Submitted by: fluidg
November 5, 2010 Lets get our facts straight here. Janet Evans is currently 39 years old (08-28-1971). When the Olympic Trials happen she will be 40 and she will be one month shy of 41 when the Olympics begin on July 27, 2012. I think its great that she is getting back to swimming and starting with Masters swimming. It will be a big boost for USMS and I sure all of the members including myself appreciate this and look forward to seeing her swim at the 2010 USMS Short Course Nationals in Mesa, Arizona.

Before the announcement yesterday, people heard rumors about this and started a discussion over at the US Masters website discussion forum about the possibilities of making a comeback and being coached by Mark Schubert. Since then we have this announcement that she is going to start with Masters and she how she progresses and myabe, just maybe she will make a comeback for bid to make the 2012 Olympic team.

If Janet Evans makes a comeback, the biggest difference between what events she is seeking to make a comeback in and what others have done in other events would be groundbreaking.

There have been many swimmers that have taken time off and came back and swam sprint distances when these use to swim longer distances. The first person I remember doing this was Gary Hall Sr. in 1976 in training for the 100 fly and dropping the 200 Fly, 200 IM, and 400 IM. Spitz did the same thing in 1992 and swimming just the 100 Fly and dropping the other events. Pablo Morales didn't even mess with the 200 Fly in his comeback and we all know about Dara Torress.

There have been many registered masters swimmers that have made Olympic Trial cut but they have all been in the short distance events. I don't believe there has ever been any swimmer over the age of 30 that has been world ranking in the 400 IM, 400 Free, 800 Free, and 1500 Free. If Janet did this she would be the first swimmer and I believe it would be more groundbreaking than what Dara has done.

There were two points that came up yesterday in discussing this and that was training volume and recovery of a swimmer doing this volume in their early 40's. Also the physical and mental stress that would be taken to attemp this.

Janet Evans has not swam in 14 years and 20 years ago she was head and shoulders above the field in her performances. The 4:03.85, 8:16.22 and 15:52.10 were just so far ahead of everyone but with today's competition they are not.

It would be asking a lot for a swimmer of 42 to duplicate those efforts of 1988 and 1989 with aging and changes in life that one goes thru. Plus the competition both domestically and internationally is the best its been since Janet Evans retired.

Distance swimming to me as not changed that much compared to sprints and middle distance events where technique, starts, turns, dolphin kicking, and power swimming has really come to the forefront. I believe the great distance swimmers of the last 5 years (Vendt, Jenson) did not train very differently then Tim Shaw, Brian Goodell, and Bobby Hacket. You can't really say that about sprinters and mid distance swimmers.

I wish Janet the best in whatever happens in the next year and half.
Submitted by: skipswims
November 5, 2010 Go Janet!!
Submitted by: swimmcatt1
November 5, 2010 Does anybody remember what times Mark Spitz swam during his comeback? I remember seeing a video of him racing Tom Jager in the 50 fly, where he ended up going 26 . Anybody remember any other races he swam?
Submitted by: arnoldw
November 5, 2010 I hope Janet does make it back to the form she had from mid '80s through Barcelona Olympics.

I'm just saying it will be difficult that's all and with only two people per event in 400-800 frees/400 IM and so many great Americans half her age...

Maybe she can do it.

Best of luck, lady, hope you make the plane to London and show 'em life does indeed begin @ 41.

Somebody made the point that distance runners still excel in their sport in their late thirties but they haven't stopped comepting for 5-20 years. They finish up their track careers, then hit the roads and run 10Ks, half marathons and marathons and are competitive in that respect.

As for Spitz, he swam a 56.5 100 fly in spring of '96 @ Mission Viejo meet and was a good second-plus off qualifying time for Olympic Trials --and that was his best comeback effort.

And hwo dare you Philistines characterize me as a nattering nabob of negativism.

REALIST, baby, that's all.
Submitted by: slickwillie32
November 6, 2010 What does Spitz' so-called comeback have to do the Janet Evans'? Spitz was all hubris and hype. He wasn't even the best in his age group! I imagine Janet is approaching her return to competition with clear-eyed calculation. And human physiology is on her side as an endurance athlete.
@willie: Maybe you were intentionally understating the obvious, but of course it will be difficult! That's the whole point! The challenge is what gives it meaning. It's difficult for anyone! If "difficulty" was a reason not to go for it, no one would aim for the Olympic team.

Janet has a legitimate shot — well worth taking. Swimming gets a compelling story, Masters gets a bright spotlight, Janet gets phenomenally strong and fit and broadens her platform for whatever cause she chooses to support....What's the down side?
Submitted by: fluidg
November 6, 2010 right on, fluidg. Couldn't have said it better.
Submitted by: paddles
November 6, 2010 Did you see how fit Janet Evans got for that Celebrity Circus show on NBC? I have no doubt in my mind that she can become stronger than ever physically which will help making the transition to the pool easier. As for her not swimming in 14 years, she just hasn't competed in 14 years, but I do believe she has been swimming for fitness, and even put out a great book (Janet Evans' Total Swimming) and has done a multitude of clinics in the time she's been away from the competitive end of the sport.

As has already been said on Swimnetwork.com, the difference between Mark Spitz and Dara Torres' comeback bids is that they've had to be better than ever before in order to make their Olympic bids real. Janet Evans has the luxury of being so incredibly gifted, that she can be within 8 seconds of her best time in the 800 and still be a major contender for an Olympic spot. It really puts into perspective how amazing she is, doesn't it?
Submitted by: jjswim
November 6, 2010 For anyone who wants to see how fit she got, take a look at this gallery from the Celebrity Circus show. Even when she's sitting down, she's got amazing abs! http://www.nbc.com/Celebrity_Circus/photos/#cat=961&sec=1979&mea=46103
Submitted by: jjswim
November 6, 2010 As for Spitz, he swam a 56.5 100 fly in spring of '96 @ Mission Viejo meet and was a good second-plus off qualifying time for Olympic Trials --and that was his best comeback effort.

This statement is completely false. Mark Spitz never ever swam in USA Swimming competition past 1992. His best time during his comeback was 58.03 and the Olympic Trial cut was 55.59 for the 100 meter fly.

Does anybody remember what times Mark Spitz swam during his comeback? I remember seeing a video of him racing Tom Jager in the 50 fly, where he ended up going 26 . Anybody remember any other races he swam?

Mark Spitz had two made for TV races sponsored by Clairol for ABC. The event was the 50 meter fly for both races. On April 13, 1991 Mark swam against Tom Jager and the winner was to receive $20,000 and Tom Jager was 26 at the time. Jager finished more than a body length ahead with a time of 24.92 to Mark's 26.70.

On April 27, 1991 Mark swam against Matt Biondi and the winner was to receive $35,000 and Matt was 25 at the time. Biondi finished exactly two seconds ahead with a time of 24.51 to Mark's 26.51 and at that time Spitz would have broken the Masters World Record in the 40-44 age group by a half second.
Submitted by: skipswims
November 6, 2010 Spitz "toured" the world with these made-for-tv races during his "comeback".

He was in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, to swim against Gustavo Borges and Fernando Scherer.

I am not sure, but I think he swam a 58.6 in the 100 fly.
Submitted by: nadador
November 6, 2010 BUT, this post is about Evans!!!!

WELCOME BACK TO THE QUEEN OF DISTANCE SWIMMING.. THE BEST THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN!
Submitted by: nadador
November 6, 2010 realistically, Janet is going to have to go sub-8:20. By 2012 Chloe will be there as will Kate Ziegler. Janet's 8:16 was the last time she swam sub-8:20 and that was in 1989. (Someone please correct me if I am wrong).
Submitted by: paddles
November 6, 2010 Mark Spitz has absolutely nothing to do with this topic. Sorry for ceasing this opportunity to find out how Mark Spitz did in his comeback.
Submitted by: arnoldw
November 6, 2010 No, Arnie, Mark Spitz has EVERYTHING to do with this topic.

Here's a guy just 13 years rempved from his Munich glory and he couldn't get anywhere NEAR what it would have taken to be competitive in one lousy event -- the 100 fly -- let alone make the plane to Atlanta.

And you folks are fantasizing that Janet Evans is going to swim @ the London Olympics in less than two two years after NOT having competed in at least 18 years?

Get a life!

Evans has two chances of even making Trials cuts, SLIMSKI and NONESKI, and sllimski has just walked out the old doorski.

Former Lakers broadcaster Chic Hearn used to say when things were going bad for his beloved purple and goldsters that "The Lord and ALL his Disciples" couldn't help the Lakers.

Similarly Janet Evans could train 25 hours a day nine days a week starting today with -- take your pick -- Mark Schubert, Eddie Reese, Randy Reese (!!!), Paul Bergen, Doc Counsilman, George Haines, Sherm Chevoor, David Marsh, Nort Thornton, Ray Bussard, Skip Kenney, Terri McKeever, Cindy Gallagher, Vladimir Salnikov's old coach Sergei Vaitcevkovskiy and Stix Ballatore and she STILL won't make Trials cuts let alone the Olympics themselves.

That goes double for Mel Stewart/Ed Moses.
Submitted by: slickwillie32
November 6, 2010 Hey all,

It's getting a bit heated in here. Keep it civil.
Submitted by: Jason Marsteller
November 6, 2010 Has anybody asked Janet what she wants?
Submitted by: swimmcatt1
November 6, 2010 Who am I? Nobody really. I swim for pleasure. I wish Janet the same. Maybe thats the plan. Including competing master's for now. I hope Janet gets in the pool and trains like most masters do - but probably faster than most given the past. I hope she trains 4,000 or so 4 or five days a week like many masters - and does some dryland. I think it will be a total thrill for swimmers to meet her, cheer for her and suit up at the same meet. I think she is going to have a blast in the present. Learning to streamline and underwater work, doing backstroke flipturns, learning to rotate on backstroke, early catch ( even more), front driven fly, all the cool breaststroke changes, new blocks, and on and on. I was never much good, but I loved learning all the new stuff after 18 years away. The olympics is not the only thing out there for swimmers - especially when they have won it and done it like Janet. I hope Janet has a freaking blast - and blogs about it to the uncommon man and woman - in masters. Again. Go Janet. Maybe Tracy Caulkins is next to do masters!!!
Submitted by: swimmcatt1
November 7, 2010 swimmcatt, if only one more time I could see the great Tracy Caulkins in the pool, I would die a happy swim fan! :o) Here's for hoping.
Submitted by: paddles
November 7, 2010 Jason, it's not heated until people start going after grammar... @Willie, you really think Ed Moses can't come back? Have you witnessed the state of the 100BR these days? He walked away as he was approaching his peak, sick of the sport (watch the interview). Furthermore, he only has to swim a 100BR, not a 400/800 like Janet Evans. I wish them both well, I would put my money on Ed without a doubt of the two comeback stories. If Lezak at 31 can go the fastest 100 split ever, Ed has a fair shake at being one of the best 2 100BR in the US. 2011 Summer Nationals is too far away right now...good luck to both!
Submitted by: HC_HLA
November 7, 2010 Nobody has mentioned the fact that Janet's times were set wearing a regular swimsuit. Her opponents have all slowed down since the full bodysuits were banned. I believe she has a great shot at it. More than that she is a fiery competitor and will do what it takes. Dara Torres was right - age is just a number. Go Janet go!
Submitted by: swj1500
November 7, 2010 The difference between Janet and Mark Spitz is that Janet does not have to improve her best time to be competitive. As for Janet not making Olympic Trials cuts, do you know what the cut is in the 800? It's an 8:50. Her best time in the 800 is an 8:16, so she only has to be within 34 seconds of a time she's already swam. In the 400, it's a 4:19. I do hope she proves you wrong, and I think she can. How fitting too that the best mid-distance/distance swimmers in the country (Ziegler, Hoff, Burckle, Knutson) now swim for the team she spent so many years representing in National competition. I wonder if she'll be wearing the FAST cap too.
Submitted by: jjswim
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Janet Evans
Courtesy of: Neil Hodge/USA Swimming

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