Reporting Steve Grzanich
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LONDON (CBS) — A suburban swimmer hopes to make a splash at the London 2012 Summer Games and not just in the pool. First time Olympian Conor Dwyer of Winnetka wants to win a medal.
“That’s always the goal is to win the race you’re in,” Dwyer told Newsradio WBBM. He will compete in the 400-meter freestyle and the 800-meter freestyle relay. “I know they (fellow Team USA relay swimmers) have dominated the 800-meter relay for a bunch of Olympics in a row, so I am definitely planning on winning a gold in that relay with those guys.”
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Dwyer, 23, graduated from Loyola Academy and is a member of the Lake Forest Swim Club. He attended the University of Florida where his swimming career was highlighted by several national championships. Dwyer was the 2010 SEC and NCAA Swimmer of the Year. Back in June, he took second place in the 400-meter freestyle at the U-S Olympic Trials which qualified him for a spot on Team USA.
“I am definitely excited,” said Dwyer who has been focusing most of his time lately on training. “We’re training pretty hard right now trying to tune up on some things that can make me faster and do my best to get into the finals and then anything can happen.” His training consists of swimming 16,000 meters each day broken down into two, two-hour swims daily plus weight training.
Dwyer will be miss Opening Ceremonies on Friday because he will compete the following day. “I’ll have to be ready to go and be really focused and not try to be too nervous on that first day of competition.” Still, he is starting to feel the excitement surrounding the Olympics and has come to the realization that this is not just an ordinary swim meet.
“This is by far the biggest one I’ve been too in my whole life. It is overwhelming and I’ve had a few meeting that have given me chills and a lot of emotions,” he said.
Dwyer will compete in the 400-meter freestyle heat on July 28 at 4:52am CDT. The final will be later that same day at 1:49pm CDT. Dwyer will compete again in the qualifying round of the 800-meter freestyle relay on July 31 at 5:02am CDT. The final is later that afternoon at 2:47pm CDT.
By the way, swimming appears to run in the Dwyer family. His mother, Jeanne, taught Conor to swim when he was just a toddler in his grandparent’s pool. She herself was an All-American swimmer in college. Dwyer’s siblings, however, have no interest in the pool whatsoever.
“Three brothers and a sister and none of them like swimming like I do,” said Dwyer. “They’re all 6-4 like I am so I think they could be good at it but they didn’t like it at a young age. I think it is the genes and I guess I’ll have to give her a little credit for my swimming ability.”
A group of 20-30 family members from the Chicago-area and other parts of the country will travel to London for the games including Dwyer’s mom, twin brother Spencer and three younger siblings.
Dwyer said he realizes the awesome responsibility that comes with being part of Team USA. It is about more than swimming and he knows it. Above all, he wants to make his family, supporters and the rest of America proud.
“I will be representing my country the best way that I can. Overall I will try to be a good person and represent America while I am over there the best way I can, in and out of the water.”
And as for future competition, Dwyer has youth is on his side and said he fully expects to compete for a spot at the 2016 Olympics.
“My coach thinks there are a lot more things we could work on to be faster, so I am going to swim until 2016 and hopefully make Rio.”
You can follow Conor Dwyer on Twitter: @conorjdwyer or join his fan club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Conor-Dwyer/170640272992707