Upon the conclusion of the originally scheduled 2020 Olympic Games, American breaststroker Andrew Wilson was planning on hanging up his goggles competitively. And while the coronavirus pandemic has bought him an extra year in the sport, that remains the plan post-Tokyo 2021.
Wilson, 27, will head off to grad school in the fall at Oxford University in England, having deferred it by a year due to the Olympic postponement and COVID-19, where he’ll study Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing.
“I could see myself swimming for another year because I was kind of getting…not nervous about retiring, but I know that I’m going to miss it,” Wilson said of having the extra year in the sport. “Once I’m done I know I’m going to miss it.
“But that said, I’m also really excited for grad school. The last year I applied to grad schools, and I was set. I knew where I was going and all that. So that was going to start in the fall. And so, if I was going to be swimming, it wasn’t going to be…seriously like it is now. It would more would be for the enjoyment and maybe to make a little money on the side. But I’m pretty happy that I’ve got another year in the sport.”
A native of Bethesda, MD., Wilson swam collegiately with Division III Emory before spending some time working with the pro group at the University of Texas. Since the fall of 2018, he has been training with the University of Georgia pro group in Athens.
What drew Wilson to Oxford?
“I ended up picking Oxford just because I’m really interested in Formula 1 engineering and Formula 1 modelling, stuff like that,” he said. “Geographically, Oxford’s in the team’s backyard, so there’s just more networking opportunities, things like that.”
Along with his desire to study F1, Wilson was also born in London and has always wanted to go back. For him, the draw goes far beyond what he’ll be doing in school.
“Outside the classroom it’s going to be a really great experience,” he said. “I’m going to learn a lot culturally in addition to in the classroom. So, yeah, it was a lot of different things, but I’m really excited.”
Since placing fifth in the 100 and fourth in the men’s 200 breaststroke at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, Wilson has established himself as the fastest and most consistent American in the breaststroke events.
After getting some valuable international experience at the 2017 World University Games, winning three gold medals, Wilson was the fastest U.S. swimmer in the 100 in both 2018 and 2019, and has been ranked either first or second in the 200 every year since 2017. This ultimately led him to a pair of sixth-place finishes at his first Long Course World Championships in 2019, along with a pair of silver medals in the men’s and mixed medley relays.
Since Rio, he is one of only two American men to break 59 seconds in the 100 breast, and one of four to crack 2:08 in the 200 breast.
Wilson, who opted out of competing in the ISL this season after swimming for the Cali Condors in 2019, raced in his first big competition since March at the Greensboro site of the U.S. Open, placing first overall in both the 100 (59.58) and 200 breast (2:09.83).