Matt Grevers: ‘There’s no room for me’

Matt Grevers
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Matt Grevers was usually overshadowed on the powerful U.S. swimming team, coming along in an era that also included Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

Grevers still managed to make quite a mark.

After winning four golds and six medals overall at the last two Olympics, Grevers sounded as if his career was over Thursday, just minutes after competing in the 200-meter backstroke at the U.S. swimming trials.

Even though he qualified for the evening semifinals, Grevers scratched from the event and has no plans to compete in his remaining race, the 50 freestyle, knowing he wasn’t a contender to make the Olympic team in either.

“I feel like the future of backstroke is in great hands,” Grevers said. “There’s no room for me.”

The 31-year-old chuckled a bit, but he was clearly in a reflective mood as he exited pool for what might have been the final time, at least as a top-level competitor.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Grevers said. “I really love this sport. I’m going to be around it the rest of my life. I’m just not positive if I’m going to be as competitive as I once was.”

He was hoping to swim in one more Olympics, but that plan was snuffed out by a third-place finish in the 100 back earlier in the week.

Grevers was stunned by the result, knowing he wouldn’t get a chance to defend the gold medal he won at the 2012 London Games.

But after a couple of days to reflect — and plenty of love from those around him — he sounded content with the impact he’s made on the sport.

“The fans have been awesome, very loving,” Grevers said. “Parents, coaches, friends, teammates, they’ve all been supportive and loving. I feel like I couldn’t have had a better career. Everyone appreciates who I am, and that probably means more to me than anything.”

At 6-foot-8, Grevers was one of the most imposing figures on the pool deck. But his laid-back personality and ever-present smile always made him one of the most approachable figures on the national team.

He was impressive in the water, as well.

Grevers won a silver medal in the 100 back at the 2008 Beijing Games, and followed up with his first individual gold in London. He was a stalwart of the relays, earning a pair of golds in 4×100 medley and another in the 4×100 freestyle relay, to go along with a silver in the 4×100 free relay in 2012.

All things being equal, Grevers would have preferred to keep swimming. But he is fully aware of the financial limitations of trying to carry on after missing out on the Olympics.

“The sport of swimming is unforgiving,” he said. “There’s not too many ways to make a livelihood in swimming unless you’re pretty much on the Olympics team.”

Grevers and his wife, Annie, are expecting their first child in November.

“I’ve got to think about supporting the growing family,” he said. “I’ll probably still swim, to be honest, but I’ve got to start that next step in life, get a real job.”

Grevers mentioned coaching as a possibility. Commercial real estate is another option.

No matter what comes next, he will always be proud of what he did in the pool.

“There’s always that battle: When do you step away? On top? Where would I feel satisfied?” Grevers said. “I feel very satisfied. I didn’t bomb or anything. I got third. It’s a tough sport. But it’s not a bad spot to maybe separate a little bit.

“I’ll probably keep swimming,” he added, “but I’m not going to put everything into swimming, like I have forever.”