The Olympics were still ongoing when Ray Looze called Kristin Borrelli, an assistant athletic director of compliance at IU.
Looze, IU’s head swimming coach and an assistant coach for Team USA in Rio de Janeiro, wanted to get preparations for his Olympians’ returns underway.
“Nothing for anybody that went to that meet will ever be the same,” Looze said. “You’re forever an Olympian, and that’s a really select group of people. Just walking around the village, and there’s like 10,000 athletes, and you’re one of them, just right out of the gate that changes you. And then if you go down there and are fortunate enough to win an Olympic medal, nothing’s really ever the same.”
IU swimmers won six medals, four gold and two bronze.
Looze said he hopes his swimmers can handle their success and use it in a positive way for their families, themselves and their school, but they won’t be able to hide from their newfound status.
Cody Miller said he was shocked by how many people in Bloomington recognized him. The IU swimming alumnus won two medals, a gold and a bronze in Rio and said he plans to continue training at IU as he looks for a house with his fiancée.
“I am by no means famous,” Miller said. “People have said I’m ‘Bloomington famous.’ I’ll take that. But like everywhere I’ve gone, like the grocery store, Subway, like everywhere, at least one person has come up to me and been like, ‘Can I take a photo with you?’ And I’m like, ‘OK.’”
Lilly King said she had four or five random people come up and hug her at Target the other day. King won two gold medals and is getting back into the swing of things as a sophomore at IU.
“It’s been pretty crazy honestly,” King said. “I guess just with social media following alone, just, you know, I guess everything just skyrocketing so fast. People, like, know who I am now. That’s a little strange.”
King spent some time last week on a media tour in her hometown of Evansville, Indiana, and even threw out the first pitch at an Evansville Otters game.
Now it’s back to school and training for the season ahead in October.
While Miller said he’s still riding that Olympic high, King said she’s definitely coming down from it a little.
It’s difficult to come back from an international competition like the Olympics and find that motivation for the standard dual meets, she said.
“If we have an easy meet,” King said, “I’m not going to be real motivated to swim fast there. I mean, I will, but I’m not going to be going best times any time during dual meets.”
That extra motivation she needs will come from looking to her teammates and wanting to swim well for them. She’s part of a team that is garnering a lot more attention from prospective swimmers than in years past, Looze said.
“The number of emails and texts and people that want to talk to us now is just so different than it ever was,” Looze said. “It started to change having Olympians, but then what they did down there, the six Olympic medals, I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”
Texas, Cal, Auburn and others should make some room at the top of the NCAA swimming and diving food chain.
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