London’s Calling: Anthony Ervin and Kara Lynn Joyce

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 15. PARTING from a couple days profiling primarily distance Olympians, Swimming World today takes a look at two Team USA members competing in the shortest race the swimming pool has to offer: the 50 freestyle.

Anthony Ervin:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

Perhaps the biggest “comeback” of 2012 was when Anthony Ervin decided to make a bid at his second Olympics. Typically, going for a second Olympics is standard if a swimmer stays involved in international competition after the Games. Ervin’s second attempt at the Olympics, however, came twelve years after his first.

Before qualifying this year to represent Team USA in the 50 freestyle in London, Ervin was best known for his Sydney 2000 gold medal tie with teammate Gary Hall Jr. in the sprint event. He followed this with two World Champion titles the following year, in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Then Ervin shocked the swimming community when, in 2003, he hung up his cap and goggles after his collegiate eligibility with the Cal Golden Bears ran out.

“I’ve repeatedly said I wasn’t making a, quote, comeback,” Ervin told USA Today before his first swim in Omaha. “Returning to competitive swimming was kind of, it was a slow process.”

Perhaps it was a slow process getting back into the pool, but the time Ervin spent out of it is definitely worth telling.

Ervin moved to New York shortly after retiring, where he taught at Imagine, a learn-to-swim school based in TriBeCa. He credits his interactions with the children as helping push him back between the lane lines. In 2007, he returned to Cal to finish up his degree and contacted women’s coach Teri McKeever to see if her could “train with the girls.”

I guess the rest is history.

Ervin swam the 100 and 50 freestyle at trials, commenting to Swimming World after his 100 that “It was rough, but I’m just knocking some dust and rust off.”

He followed this “rusty” swim with continued improvements in his 50 freestyle throughout the meet, culminating with a remarkable second-place finish by one one-hundredth to winner Cullen Jones. Silver, and a ticket to London were the results.

“I’m so happy,” Ervin commented to the media after the race. “It’s been an incredible journey, and the journey gets to continue.”

Kara Lynn Joyce:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

The final heat of the women’s 50 freestyle in Omaha could have gone to anyone. The lanes were packed with sprint queens of all ages: from 45-year-old Dara Torres vying for her sixth Olympic team to Jessica Hardy, already heading to London with win in the 100 freestyle.

When it came down to the final two, Jessica Hardy took the top spot, with 26-year-old Kara Lynn Joyce pulling second and her third Olympic Games.

Joyce might have thrown in the towel after failing to advance past prelims in the 100 freestyle earlier in the week, but instead she approached her second sprint event with good humor. Her training partner at SwimMAC Carolina, Cullen Jones, had won the 50 freestyle the night before from lane two, the same lane Joyce was set to race in.

“I told Cullen, ‘You need to give me your Lane 2 mojo,'” Joyce told Swimming World.

Joyce has had a long and successful swimming career, starting from when her family moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, she began training at Club Wolverine under Hall of Fame Coach Jon Urbanchek. In her senior year of high school, she set five Michigan state records, four of which were high school records at the time.

After high school, Joyce went on to swim at the University of Georgia under Jack Bauerle, where she became an 18-time NCAA Champion, both individually and through relays.

On the Morning Swim Show over a year ago, Joyce told host Peter Busch her intentions of moving from FAST in Southern California to train with Missy Franklin at the Colorado Stars. To some, this was considered a risky move, considering the Colorado Stars has no formal post-graduate program under coach Todd Schmitz. Joyce did not train through to trials in Colorado, opting to finish out her last months training at SwimMAC Carolina.

When asked about her last-minute training move, Joyce told Swimming World, “I knew it was a risk. I knew it [qualifying for the Olympics] wasn’t going to happen where I was, and the risk paid off tremendously.”

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller