Allison Schmitt’s Approach To A Fourth Olympics At 30 Part Of Career Transition

Allison Schmitt - a high-five for fun and the future - Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

“I almost feel like a mom sometimes,” 29-year-old Allison Schmitt told Steve Megargee of Associated Press (AP) after winning the 200m free in a solid 1:56 on Pro-Series tour in Knoxville last Friday.

“I’m like, ‘What does that mean?’ They have to tell me what things mean, the new slang words.”

Schmitt, the 2012 Olympic 200m champion who also claimed silver over 400m, is talking about life back in  school and training with Arizona State’s swimmers under the guidance of long-term coach Bob Bowman.

A graduate student at Arizona State, Schmitt, who has done much to raise awareness of mental-health issues and living with depression, joined the internship program last year counseling students.

She intends to return to her own studies at the end of the coming summer, having taken time out of late to seek a berth on the Team USA swim squad for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

A goal achieved would make it Schmitt’s fourth Games and grant her a ticket to an American swim sorority of four-timers alongside and Dara Torres (the U.S. record holder at five Games, 1984-92, 2000, 2008), Jenny Thompson (1992-2004) and Amanda Beard (1996-2008), while Jill Sterkel (1976-88) was another who was selected for four Games but denied actually racing at four by the 1980 boycott.

Outside of the United States, Therese Alshammer, of Sweden, raced in the pool at six Games, a feat that could be matched by Italy’s Federica Pellegrini if she makes the cut for Tokyo 2020. Of late, Pellegrini joined the chorus of sports stars speaking out on climate-change in the wake of the Australian-bushfire crisis.

Schmitt, who turns 30 on June 7, had intended to make Rio 2016 her Olympic swan song. Even as her friend and then teammate Michael Phelps posted an Instagram photo of them making hand gestures that formed “2020”, writes Megargee, Schmitt indicated there was no way she’d be back.

Phelps had said the same after London 2012 and for Schmitt, that ‘2020’ pose with him had planted a seed.  It would not be all that long before she was ‘keeping fit… having fun’ but then, she now says, “twice a week turned into three times, four times, five times until eventually where we are now.”

Back in 2018 Schmitt talked about what it meant for her to be back in the fast swim lane:

Bowman, who has coached Schmitt since 2006, says 14 years on that Schmitt is much more grounded during this Olympic bid:

“She sees that swimming is a big part of her life, but it’s not who she is. She has her own identity outside of that. She has her own life outside of it. She’s now made a path for what’s going to happen after swimming. That was the only way I’d really agree to her continuing to swim, if she had a clear-cut sort of exit strategy. She does now, which she did not have in ’16 and really didn’t have in ’12.”

Meanwhile, Schmitt says she has yet to decide her specialty yet in the mental health field:

“I’ve been lucky enough to have swimming as my job, which I’ve loved. To be able to wake up and have a passion and do your job with passion and love is what we’re all striving to find. Hopefully, I can find that in my career after swimming as well.”

Read the AP article in full at the San Diego Union Tribune

Schmitt talking about her 200 free win at 2019 nationals and her future career: