Meet 2016 US Olympian Conor Dwyer, from Winnetka, Illinois, who this summer is on his way to a 2nd Olympic Games with his first individual medal in sight. In his video, Dwyer also talks about his experience being 5’6 when he entered high school and not being a very good swimmer – not even making his high school varsity team as a freshman and sophomore. He says he “got his break” when the coaches allowed him as a walk-on at the University of Iowa (though he doesn’t mention the University of Florida, to where he later transferred and became one of the country’s best swimmers. Dwyer will swim the 200 and 400 freestyles individually in Rio, along with the 800 free relay – where he won gold in 2012.
From his bio:
In 2007, Dwyer earned bronze in the 200-meter freestyle at the Speedo Junior Nationals. At the 2010 ConocoPhillips United States National Championships in Irvine, Cali., Dwyer qualified for the U.S. National Team in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay by finishing fifth in the 200-meter freestyle. Dwyer also placed fifth in the 200-meter individual medley and sixth in the 400-meter freestyle.
At the 2011 World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai, Dwyer swam in the heats of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, teaming with David Walters, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay. Dwyer swam the second leg and recorded a time of 1:47.31, and earned a gold medal when the United States won in the final.
At the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships in Palo Alto, Cali., Dwyer won the 200-meter IM and was runner up in the 400-meter IM. Shortly after the 2011 National Championships, Dwyer competed at the 2011 Pan American Games held in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he won one gold as part of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay and one silver medal as part of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and two individual silver medals in the 200-meter Individual Medley (1:58.64) and the 400-meter Individual Medley (4:18.22).
At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. Dwyer qualified for his first U.S. Olympic team by finishing second behind Peter Vanderkaay (3:47.67) in the 400-meter freestyle with a time of 3:47.83. Dwyer also qualified for the 4×200 meter freestyle relay by finishing fourth (1:46.64) in the 200-meter freestyle behind Michael Phelps (1:45.70), Ryan Lochte (1:45.75) and Ricky Berens (1:46.76). Dwyer finished the 2012 Olympic Trials with a third place finish in the 200-meter IM (1:58.92) finishing again behind Phelps (1:54.84) and Lochte (1:54.93). All of Dwyer’s times in each of the events he performed represented personal bests.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London Dwyer swam his first race in the 400-meter freestyle. In the heats of the 400-meter freestyle, Dwyer achieved a personal best of 3:46.24 (improving upon his prior best of 3:47.83) to qualify for the final. In the final of the 400-meter freestyle, Dwyer placed fifth with a time of 3:46.39, slightly slower than the time he posted in the heats. In his second and final event, the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, Dwyer earned a gold medal when the U.S. team placed first in the final with a time of 6:59.70. Teaming with Ryan Lochte (1:45.15), Ricky Berens (1:45.27) and Michael Phelps (1:44.05), Dwyer swam the second leg in a time of 1:45.23.
At the 2013 World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona Dwyer earned his first medal of the meet, a silver, by swimming for the U.S. team in the preliminary heats of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. Swimming the anchor leg in the heats, Dwyer recorded a time of 48.36. In his first individual event, the 200-meter freestyle, Dwyer won silver behind Frenchman and training partner at North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC), Yannick Agnel, recording a personal best time of 1:45.32. At the 150-meter mark, Dwyer was in fifth place, but posted the fastest final 50-meter split of the field, 26.59 seconds, to earn the second place finish. In the 4×200-meter freestyle relay, Dwyer combined with Ryan Lochte (1:44.98) Charlie Houchin (1:45.59) and Ricky Berens (1:45.39) with the team finishing in first place. Swimming the lead-off, Dwyer recorded a split of 1:45.76, and the team finished with a final time of 7:01.72.
In December of 2013 Dwyer traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to compete for Team USA at the Duel in the Pool classic, which pits America’s top swimmers against Europe’s fastest swimmers in a head-to-head short course meters swim meet. Dwyer opened the meet with a victory in the 400-meter IM with a time of 4:01.76, finishing just ahead of teammate Chase Kalisz, who finished in second place with a time of 4:02.40. Later that day, Dwyer fought hard for a third place finish in the hotly contested 400-meter freestyle. Dwyer finished behind fellow American and event winner Michael Klueh (3:39.94) as well as North Baltimore Aquatic Club training partner and European stalwart, Yannick Agnel (3:40.19). Just behind Dwyer were American Michael McBroom and European James Guy, who tied for fourth with a time of 3:40.57 and Matt McClean, who finished sixth with a time of 3:40.68. On day two, Dwyer again was crowned champion of the 200-meter freestyle, finishing with a time of 1:41.68, distancing himself from the field as second place Tyler Clary finished over two seconds behind with a time of 1:43.84. In his final swim of the meet, Dwyer again captured the win in the 200-meter IM with a time of 1:53.51, comfortably ahead of Europe’s runner-up, Roberto Pavoni (1:54.20) and American Kalisz (1:54.26). America went on to win the excitingly close dual meet by one point, 132-131, in large part to Dwyer’s success.
When 2013 came to an end, Dwyer pushed himself even harder in 2014. He had a three-event lineup at the 2014 U.S. National Championships, finishing fourth in the 200-meter IM and the 100-meter freestyle and he also picked up a second-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle. His finishes in the 200 and 100-meter freestyles put him on the Pan Pac’s roster. Dwyer won a gold medal for the U.S. Team as a member of its 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and also brought home a fourth-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle, barely missing out on a bronze medal.
Going into the World Short Course Championships in Doha, Dwyer changed his training scenery. When training partners Yannick Agnel and Michael Phelps stepped away from North Baltimore Aquatic Club, he went west. Dwyer trained with veteran coaches, Dave Salo and Jon Urbanchek, in order to gear up for Doha. At the 2014 Championships, Dwyer won gold as a member of the U.S. 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
In 2015 Dwyer toured the country competing in the Arena Pro Series in cities such as Mesa, Charlotte and Santa Clara. In June he competed at its portion, and after that meet in Santa Clara wrapped up, Dwyer was named the Pro Series Champ. Dwyer was actually so far ahead on the leaderboard that he didn’t even need to swim at Santa Clara in order to win the Series. His total prize money of $12,000 and a new 1-year BMW lease was the second year in a row that Dwyer was named the winner.
2015 FINA World Championships
In Kazan, Russia Dwyer added another World Championship medal to his growing collection with a silver in the 800 meter freestyle relay. In his individual events, he placed 5th in the 200 meter medley and 9th in the 200 meter freestyle.
Road to Rio
On the first night at the US Olympic Trials, Dwyer sealed his spot on the plane to Rio with a silver in the 400 meter freestyle. Two days later he picked up another two events with a silver in the 200 meter freestyle adding a individual and relay to his Olympic schedule. He stormed out in front and the title looked to be his through 150 meters. But Townley Haas and Jack Conger had tremendous final 50’s. Haas managed to out touch Dwyer by 0.01 but Conger ran out of pool and finished 3rd.