Opening statement: Carly Piper
"What do I start with? It was a really good experience just being around all those new people, people I've watched for so long or followed for so long. And just to be able to race right there next to them and to go in there just thinking, ‘you know, I want to do the best that I can and just try and make it to the finals.' And then making it into the finals for the relay was just something that is unexplainable, a dream come true, and to be able to share it also with everybody back home and here, and having two of my coaches there and my parents is just something that made it even more special."
Opening statement: Eric Hansen
"Thank you. Geoff Hanson, my assistant head coach, and I had the opportunity to travel to Athens kind of in a whirlwind. We were there for approximately six days and had an opportunity to see the majority of the swimming and it was quite phenomenal. It was just, we had already had an amazing summer with the group of 11 that we had taken to the U.S. Olympic Trials. And so for Carly to be a part of that and to be there to see it was something, I'm sure, I will never forget. It was a pretty emotional time and it was a lot of fun to be able to share it with her and be there."
Carly, can you talk about how you qualified to swim in the finals, 1/100th of a second in the prelim in the morning, and kind of explain how that went about?
"Well, just going in, we were told, you know, have safe starts. We were there to qualify the relay for the night was our main purpose and we were told just go and have safe starts, swim your own race. And so I normally have safe starts anyways, so I just wanted to go in and I just felt really good in the water and I just, you know, wanted to go in and swim as fast and as well as I possibly could. And it was in the back of my mind that I could possibly be on the night relay, but I didn't really want to think about that a lot until I was actually done swimming. And then I found out that I was on it, and my first words were, ‘are you serious?' So it was just something that, a dream come true."
Well, Carly, can you just describe what it's been like in the last few days, what eight, nine days, whatever it's been, that you've been back in Grosse Pointe, and was there a pretty good reception for you there? I saw that you threw out a first pitch at a Tigers' game, too.
"It's been a lot of fun. I got, it was a really long travel day. I got back into the airport and mom promised that there would be no, she wouldn't take pictures of me, but she was there with the whole family, taking pictures, and I just saw a lot of family, friends, and my street had a nice little block party for me. And Grosse Pointe was decorated. On the City Hall, there were banners, and at our city pool, there were banners that friends had made. And my street had a sign outside of it and neighbors and friends decorated the street and my house. And it was just a relaxing time, but also I didn't get much sleep, but it was just nice to be home and see everybody again and just kind of relax for a little bit before I came back here to unpack and just get things organized again. But it's really nice to see everybody that I haven't seen for a while."
Eric, with Carly winning a gold medal, does this help your program in any regard recruiting or just exposure-wise or anything like that?
"Without a doubt. And, you know, I would like to go back to the Olympic Trials. We had a phenomenal meet. That, as much as the Olympics, is going to do a lot for our program. And, you know, it was based off of consistency and just, you know, doing the right things day to day. But as far as Wisconsin becoming a swimming school, I feel pretty good about that after both the trials and what Carly did at the Olympics. So it's been very well-received in the swimming community and recruiting has gotten a little bit easier, I would say. We still got to beat the bushes, but at the same time, it has gotten a warm reception in the community."
So what's next, Carly? Right back into the pool, obviously, for training, but, I mean, was there any time, some of the swimmers were right back in the pool even training for, I know, World Championships in October in Indianapolis. I mean, is that the same thing with you? I mean, just that little bit of time off would be nice, right?
"Yeah. I took a little break when I was at home. I mean, I didn't do absolutely nothing, but I took a little break from the pool and I'm getting back in right after this to start training for Worlds and see what happens from there."
Carly, at what point did you, in your career, did you think that you could be a gold medalist in the Olympics? I mean, is it a recent development or something you thought you could do all along?
"Just going to the Olympics has been a dream of mine ever since I was 7, just to be there, I guess. I never really thought about what was going to happen when I got there. But, I mean, like I've been saying, dream come true, and I just am excited to see what happens in the future."
Monday Press Conference: Carly Piper, Eric Hansen
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