The two-time Olympian competed at Spring Nationals with several friends on Illinois Masters
Illinois Masters members Patrick Lahey and Jack Newhouse didn’t think it would happen.
They, along with a few other friends, bid in a Golden Goggle Awards auction, which raised money for the USA Swimming Foundation, for the chance to have childhood friend and four-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers conduct a swim clinic for their children. But they didn’t think they were actually going to win until they did.
They then pushed their luck and asked for something else.
“We said, ‘You don’t have to do this—there’s no obligation—but we’re going to Mesa, if you want to come up and swim a relay with us. We’d love to have you because you’re really fast,’” Lahey says.
Grevers’s response: sure thing.
Grevers, Lahey, Newhouse, and Mark Hamming swam the 200 freestyle relay on Saturday at the 2019 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship in Mesa, Ariz., after swimming together as children for Lake Forest Swim Club in the Chicago area.
But don’t think Lahey, Newhouse, and Hamming were fazed by swimming with the 6-foot-8 six-time Olympic medalist, three-time world champion, and four-time NCAA champion.
“When he was 8, 9, 10, I remember him running around with my brother,” Newhouse says. He then adds in a deadpan: “When he was 15, 16, I remember the ego growing a little quicker than the body did and beat him a lot.”
By how much?
“Just enough,” Newhouse says.
That was just some of the grief Grevers caught from his relay team throughout the weekend, which the four of them spent sharing stories from their childhood.
“I first met him when he was 7 and I was 10 and was club teammates with him and high school teammates and college teammates,” Hamming says. “It’s nice to come full circle and finish it off and be Masters teammates. It’s been really cool.”
They might have a chance to continue doing relays with Grevers—no bidding required.
Grevers, who is training for this summer’s FINA World Championships and has a chance to make the U.S. Olympic team next year, says he plans to keep swimming for life.
“I want to keep doing it forever,” says Grevers, who was competing in his fourth Masters meet and second Spring Nationals. “I want to keep swimming.
“Just seeing my friends here, people are turning 40 and they look great and they’re super happy. What Masters swimming is doing for individuals, not just as a hobby but purely health wise, it’s awesome. I think that’s the special thing about swimming. It just keeps you in such great shape, keeps you young, and in that mindset to get better.”
Grevers set an unofficial USMS record in the 50 backstroke and won the 50 breaststroke in addition to his relay swim. He spent the weekend taking photos with and signing autographs for fans.
“He’s probably made 300 people’s weekend just by walking around and recognizing people wanted to see Matt Grevers and shaking their hand,” Lahey says. “Some kids came up to him. He’s just an incredibly nice guy who happens to be bonkers fast.”