Janet Evans has a soft spot for the YMCA swimming program,
After all, that’s where the three-time Olympic swimmer got her start.
“For my mom who didn’t know how to swim, it was her first knee-jerk reaction. She just knew her kids needed to know how to swim and she called the Y,” Evans said. “I think it was a positive, nurturing environment.”
Evans, 47, visited the Fishers YMCA Jan. 26 to give a one-hour stroke clinic and then shared her success story, took questions, posed for pictures and signed autographs for the swimmers. In the evening, she attended the YMCA’s Revolution Ball in downtown Indianapolis to raise money for swim lessons and water safety programs.
“I just think water safety is so important and promoting what these kids can do after they learn how to swim,” Evans said. “Be a triathlete, be a swimmer, be a powerboarder, be a surfer, it is such a life sport. I have a special affection for the YMCA because that’s where I learned how to swim and their programs are so incredible.”
Evans won Olympic gold medals in the 400-meter freestyle, 800 freestyle and 400 individual medley at the 1988 Olympics and won a gold in the 800 freestyle and a silver in the 400 freestyle at the 1992 Olympics. She didn’t win a medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta but she did have a memorable moment, passing the Olympic torch to Muhammad Ali.
“It’s interesting meeting someone who’s won a gold medal,” said Riverside Junior High seventh-grader Nate Shimer, who swims for the YMCA Sharks. “It’s great that my teammates and I get to experience this.”
Evans came out of retirement and achieved her goal by qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I just wanted to see what I could do as a 40-year-old woman,” Evans said.
Evans enjoys sharing advice with the young swimmers.
“It’s fun to have the kids tell me they’ll see me at the 2028 Olympics,” said Evans, whose daughter Sydney, 12, is a competitive swimmer. “It’s fun to see them excited about the sport. It’s such a great sport. It keeps them disciplined and teaches them a life skill.”