PHOENIX, Arizona, October 19. IT'S been a busy past few months for Lauren Perdue as she returns to normal life at Virginia after the Olympics, and on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show she discusses the excitement of returning to swim for the Cavaliers in her senior year.
Perdue still has been dealing with issues in her back that kept her out of last March's NCAA championships. The pain was not enough to keep her from swimming in the heats of the 800 free relay, and Perdue said she is looking to keep the issues at a minimum. She also talks about the jarring transition from the Olympics back to college swimming, a transition made easier by her teammates at Virginia. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Tiffany Elias: This is The Morning Swim Show for Friday, October 19th, 2012. I'm your host, Tiffany Elias. Today in the FINIS Monitor is a 2012 London gold medalist, and she has returned back to college life for her senior year at the University of Virginia. Lauren Perdue, welcome to the show.
Lauren Perdue: Thank you.
Tiffany Elias: So the last time we had a chance to sit down was just after Trials. You had just qualified for London. What's life been like the past couple of months?
Lauren Perdue: Life has been very good. I'm back into college, my final year at UVA, and kind of getting back into the swing of things and back into training and school, and so it's been very busy since London but busy in a very good way.
Tiffany Elias: Yes. Well, that's a loaded question because a lot has been going on this past couple of months.
Lauren Perdue: That's right.
Tiffany Elias: But why don't we start off by talking about London, your first Olympics. You qualified in the 200 freestyle, so you swam on that prelim relay of the 4×200, and those ladies came back to crush it that night for the gold medal. Walk us through that race for you or experience.
Lauren Perdue: Yes, it was an amazing experience, something that I've dreamed of since I was a little girl, and it was everything that I could have ever imagined it would be, and it was great being a part of that relay and helping our team win gold. And the girls that were on that relay are just great competitors and great teammates, so I'm just really honored to be a part of that.
Tiffany Elias: Now we've talked to some other athletes about their thoughts on swimming in a relay in the morning, not participating at night, but still winning a gold, silver, bronze medal. What are your emotions on holding that gold medal knowing that you swam in the prelim race of it?
Lauren Perdue: Yes, it really is an amazing feeling still, and even though I did not get to compete in the final heat, it still means just as much to me, and it still is significant of many, many years of hard work and sacrifice that I've had to make with the sport of swimming, so like I said, I'm just honored to be a part of that and to be able to help U.S.A. win gold in that relay.
Tiffany Elias: Now a big factor in your swimming, we spoke about this last time, where all the back issues that you've been having, you had to sit out during college seasons. How was your back through London?
Lauren Perdue: My back, it was still kind of bothering me throughout the Olympic experience, and it's something that I've dealt with for the past year and a half to two years, so it's very I guess frequent thing for me to deal with the pain, and it was bothering me a bit in London but not enough to really hold me back from competing at a high level.
Tiffany Elias: Well, we could talk a little bit more about that when we talk about college swimming coming up here soon. But overall, I think this is a fun question just to ask the athletes. Overall, what was the number one thing that you thought was the coolest or liked best from London as an athlete?
Lauren Perdue: I would say that my favorite part of London was the opening ceremonies. I went back and forth between deciding to walk in the opening ceremonies or not walking, and I actually made the decision last minute to walk, and it was probably the best decision I've ever made. It was a phenomenal experience, just beautiful. I mean it just took my breath away. It was amazing.
Tiffany Elias: Were you debating because it was a rest issue of wanting to stay off your legs?
Lauren Perdue: Yes, yes. I swam I think five days after that, so yes, it was kind of an issue whether or not it would tire my legs out too much, but it ended up being fun.
Tiffany Elias: How many people overall made that decision on the U.S.A. swim team to walk, would you say? Was it a split decision?
Lauren Perdue: I think it was about, this is just an estimate, I think maybe about 20 people, 25 people decided to walk.
Tiffany Elias: Oh okay, very nice. All right, so overall, experience was great, walked away with a gold medal. Now, there was a little bit of buzz back here in the States on some celebrity gossip news. Now, are you planning on taking a trip to visit LeBron out in Miami anytime soon?
Lauren Perdue: I'm not, no, and he probably doesn't even know who I am at this point. But no, he was a great sport and it was an honor meeting him.
Tiffany Elias: Well, we would be remiss to not bring that up, so thanks for being a good sport about that.
Lauren Perdue: Of course.
Tiffany Elias: All right, so moving on. You're back on the college campus entering your senior year now. What are the emotions going into that with your final year of collegiate swimming coming off of a huge high?
Lauren Perdue: Yes, it's kind of bittersweet. I've enjoyed my four years here at UVA. It's been an amazing experience, and coming back from the Olympics, I'm still kind of in a dreamlike state, and it's been kind of a difficult transition coming back into college swimming, but I have great teammates here, great supportive coaches, so it's been a fun ride, and I'm really looking forward to my final season at UVA.
Tiffany Elias: What's been difficult about your transition, would you say?
Lauren Perdue: It's hard not being with my U.S.A. teammates that I spent a month and a month a half with. It's hard not seeing them anymore, not swimming with them or training with them anymore. So that's been kind of hard for me. I miss all of them a lot, and hopefully, I will be able to compete on another U.S.A. team again with them.
Tiffany Elias: All right. Well, that leads us into plans after college. So once the season is over here in March, you'll continue swimming?
Lauren Perdue: Yes, I think so. I have had to think about that a lot, and right now, I am focusing on this last year of college swimming, and then probably taking year by year and seeing how my back is feeling and how I am feeling mentally. And so right now, I am hoping that I will make it another four years to Rio.
Tiffany Elias: Very nice. Well, we'll be pulling for you to make it another four-year stretch. Looking at this college season, do you think you're going to — I think we can assume we'll see you in the 200 freestyle? Are you going to try to keep it to the sprint freestyle events this year?
Lauren Perdue: Yes. I will be competing in the 200 freestyle, the 100 freestyle, and the 50 freestyle. So those are my three events that I swim. So I'm hoping I can have a better 100 and 50 this year. We'll see how it goes.
Tiffany Elias: Now that 200 freestyle is going to be a stacked event, a lot to look forward to, Georgia coming back with Allison Schmitt and also Megan Romano who won the event last year, set the American record. So knowing that's out in front of you, that's got to be some good motivation.
Lauren Perdue: Yes, it is. It's really exciting, and both of those girls are phenomenal athletes, and I've had the honor of training and swimming with Allison Schmitt, and so I'm really excited to see how this event goes.
Tiffany Elias: All right. Well, we are looking forward to it as well. Good luck this year. I hope your back feels good in the water, and we'll see you on NCAAs.
Lauren Perdue: Thank you so much.
Tiffany Elias: All right. Thanks, Lauren.
Lauren Perdue: Bye.
Tiffany Elias: That is Lauren Perdue in the FINIS Monitor. That wraps up today's Morning Swim Show. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest news. I'm your host, Tiffany Elias. Thanks for watching.
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