Aussie swimwear label Funkita has signed Olympic silver medallist Blair Evans ahead of the Rio Olympics. The 25-year-old Western Australian individual medley swimmer, secured her spot on the Australian Dolphins team after winning gold in the 400 IM at the Australian Olympic trials in April.
Evan’s time of 4:35.26 has her ranked 8th in the world this year with Hungarian Katinka Hosszu setting the pace with a 4:29.03 at the FFN Golden Tour in March and Maya Dirado swimming a 4:33.73 at US Olympic Team Trials. Rio will be Blair’s second Olympics after she competed at London in 2012 where she won a silver medal in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.
Evans has struggled with serious shoulder and neck injuries since the London Olympics and was given just a 2% chance of returning to competitive swimming. Those odds would be scary for most athletes, but not for Evans who has come back from much worse.
When she was just 11 years old, Blair was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in her hip which led her to have major surgery. After the surgery, she was told that the original diagnosis was wrong and instead she had suffered a severe infection which meant she could never run again. Evans immediately gave up netball and turned to swimming.
“Swimming started as a therapy. I couldn’t do anything else so I was almost forced into it. I credit that with helping me learn a lot of lessons in life. It teaches you about winning and losing. Sometimes you can lose everything but you can come back from that,” she says.
Having been given slim odds of returning to competitive swimming after the London Olympics, Evans lost all funding and was forced to change coaches but she never gave up on her Olympic dream.
“Because of what I’ve been through I always think that there’s nothing that I can’t do. It was really difficult at the beginning as I could only train for a few weeks at a time. My coach Bud was really patient with me. It’s not easy coaching an injured swimmer. He’s also someone who really calms me down. He would always say ‘I think you can do this, so let’s just do it!”
Evans missed the weekend Grand Prix meet in Brisbane which was the Australian team’s final hit out on home soil before traveling to the US for their pre-Olympics camp.
“We discovered a third bulging disc in my neck, so that’s a new problem adding to the 2014 problem,” Evans said.
Despite the setback, Evans is confident she can swim through the injury and feels her experience from London will help her perform at her best. Despite all she’s been through she says she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’ve really grown as a person because of what I’ve been through.”
Swimming News is courtesy of WAY FUNKY TRUNKS, a SwimSwam partner.