FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, December 13. CURRENTLY the domain of Kate Ziegler, the distance-freestyle events in the United States could be getting a spark with the return of Brooke Bennett to the competitive scene. According to a recent story in the Tampa Tribune, the three-time Olympic champion has decided to get back to heavy training.
The Olympic champ in the 800 freestyle in 1996 and 2000 and the 400 free titlist in 2000, Bennett will chase a berth to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. At the 2004 Olympic Trials, Bennett narrowly missed an invitation to Athens when she placed third in the 800 free. Still, she thinks she has the ability and desire to qualify for the Beijing Games.
According to the newspaper story, the 25-year-old will reunite with her longtime coach Peter Banks and begin training in early January. If Bennett’s return is maxed out in terms of its success, she would be considered past her prime when the next Olympiad rolls around. Yet, Bennett isn’t concerned with the opinions of outsiders, but is mainly focused on her return to the international stage.
"I know there are going to be swimmers who will laugh at me for making this decision, because I'm going to be 28 heading into the Beijing Olympics," Bennett said in the Tampa Tribune piece. "But I do think I still have it in me, and I've grown and matured a lot and have gotten stronger, mentally and physically, the past two years."
Bennett and her husband, Joe Tassone, will relocate from South Florida in order for the distance ace to train with Banks. After the Trials in Long Beach, California, Bennett never officially retired from the sport. Rather, she simply stepped away. Now, the 14-time national champion is coming back and doing so with intensity. Really, that’s the only way to approach the return.
"Over time, I just knew I wasn't done and that this was what I really wanted to do," Bennett said. "The first three months back in the pool I'm sure will be quite miserable. But in a weird way, that's just what I've missed, that feeling of doing a workout that seems impossible and somehow doing it."