Breeja Larson Makes Trials Return at 32, Reaches Goal to ‘Swim Fun’

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Breeja Larson didn’t win the 100 breaststroke at the Olympic Trials – nor was she particularly close to winning the race.

But Larson won at the Olympic Trials.

The 2012 Olympian was back on the big stage at age 32 with the sole purpose of having fun.

Mission accomplished.

“Did you swim fun? That is what I want to hear. It should just be exciting and fun. The more I am worried about outside expectations, the more it filters to you,” Breeja Larson told Swimming World.

It is a message Larson is hoping parents understand.

“One thing I really want all the parents to be careful with when they are dealing with young swimmers here for the first time is not positively projecting where they think their kids can go. That just puts more pressure on,” she said.

Larson had retired from competitive swimming in 2021. She made the Olympic team in London in the 100 breaststroke. She won gold in 2012 on the medley relay and was sixth in the 100 breast in London. She won the national title in both breaststroke events in 2013 as well. During her career at Texas A&M she won three consecutive NCAA championships in the 100 breast. In 2016, she finished fourth at trials, just missing the team.

Her last big performance was winning the 100 breaststroke at the 2019 U.S. National Championships in Palo Alto, touching the wall in 1:06.78.

Now, she is back enjoying the sport in a different way, both for the fun and certain health aspects that are helping her.

“A big part of it was my boyfriend Alex. I have been having a lot of brain fog and when I have found time to swim, I was more clear and he mentioned that. We started going to the gym together and then started swimming together,” Larson said.

Then it moved quickly from there.

“I asked Dave Salo for some workouts. I started doing those mid-to-late February and sectionals was a few weeks later and made my cut,” Larson said. “I moved to Irvine and started training with (Salo) and it has been a complete blast.”

Larson finished 41st in the 100 breaststroke on Sunday in 1:10.52. She started fast, but couldn’t hold the same pace on the back half.

“I am so happy to be here. The first 50 I just used too much energy. It felt good and strong and then the last 25 – ouch. But it has been so fun being back at trials,” she said. “The football stadium has been amazing, just to experience. I don’t think it makes a difference racing. But the crowd makes it more exciting.”

So exciting that Larson isn’t done this week – or in the near future.

“I am going to keep swimming. It is so fun. Hopefully I can swim at nationals. I am going to do a couple of time trials. I don’t want to waste a taper while I am here,” Breeja Larson said. “I am going to keep going.”

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