Anthony Ervin: Swimming Comeback Served As Replacement For Smoking

Swedish podcaster Ola Strömberg has released his latest English podcast, interviewing two-time U.S. Olympian Anthony Ervin about U.S. Olympic Trials, his new book and his late-career return to the sport of swimming.

You can check out the podcast by following these links:

Treino, BotafogoErvin has a fascinating story that he and Strömberg touch in in the interview. An Olympic gold medalist in 2000 at the age of 19, Ervin retired from the sport by 23, spending nearly a decade away from the pool.

He made a comeback for the last Olympic cycle, though, making the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the 50 free at age 31, and is now attempting one more Olympic run this summer.

Ervin talks about the time between his two Olympic appearances, which he openly admits fostered some unhealthy and self-destructive habits. Interestingly enough, Ervin says his return to the pool was originally a way to kick a cigarette habit.

In trying to break dependency on nicotine, smokers often find a different habit or activity to replace smoking in their lives. For Ervin, that habit was an old one – getting back into the swimming pool.

He tells Strömberg that he was only about 150 pounds when he started swimming again, but quickly gained back muscle weight as his body became more healthy away from smoking.

You can find that and plenty more in the interview above. A few high points to look out for, with rough timestamps for where to find each topic:

  • Ervin at first terms 2016 his “swan song” in the sport, but immediately leaves the door open to another Olympic Trials appearance in 2020, depending on how this summer goes. [10 minutes]
  • He says his training hasn’t changed much, but the biggest difference from his early career is his awareness of when his body needs recovery. [11 minutes] Ervin details his training a little further – instead of conforming to a 7-day training week, Ervin’s pool sessions go in four-day cycles with three days on and one day off. His weight training is more of a typical weekly cycle.
  • Ervin defends the state of American sprinting, which has been criticized by some of late. Ervin points to Nathan Adrian, his former Cal Aquatics training partner and the defending Olympic gold medalist in the 100 free, as evidence that American sprinting’s situation is hardly as dire as it’s often made out to be. [13 minutes]
  • When asked about his goals for the U.S. Olympic Trials, Ervin says they are the same goals he had as a youth swimmer: to compete his best and finish with a best time. [15 minutes]
  • Ervin notes that he will swim both the 50 and 100 freestyles at Trials. [15 minutes] He also jokingly refers to himself as a 75 swimmer who is still working to lock down the final 25 meters of a 100.
  • Ervin also comments on the state of doping within the sport, saying that he’d like to give athletes the benefit of the doubt, but also noting with disappointment that sports have never been entirely fair. [16 minutes]

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I remember him attending a master meet at Harvard and smoking outside of Blodgett Pool just after he smoked a 50 free

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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