LAKE FOREST — Balance between family and his full-time job as a competitive swimmer are the impetus helping Matt Grevers, a 2003 Lake Forest High School graduate, on his trajectory to return to the Olympic Summer Games in 2020 after not making the 2016 team.
Grevers, 33, returned to his hometown and high school alma mater with his wife, Annie Grevers, and 17-month-old daughter, Skylar Grevers, April 20, when he was one of two former Scouts (with 1998 graduate Sarah Spain) recognized for being chosen as a Wall of Fame honoree.
With six Olympic medals—four gold and two silver—to his credit between the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and the 2012 competition in London, Grevers did not qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That was when he thought his competitive career might end his life after swimming begin.
But Grevers started training again, and he made the United States team for the 2017 world championships. He won the 100-meter backstroke there in June 2017, and he helped the 400 medley relay team take a title as well. As part of a relay, he has the world’s best time this year in the 100 backstroke.
Other important things have happened in Grevers’ life since he won his last Olympic medals in 2012. He was married in 2013, and in 2016 his Skylar was born. That gave him the balance he needed to excel in all areas of his life.
Before getting married and becoming a father, Grevers would take his problems from work home with him in an all-consuming fashion, he said. That has changed.
“If I have a bad practice I can go home and be a great dad,” said Grevers. “If Skylar is having a bad day, I can go to the pool and have a great practice. It’s all about balance.”
Grevers said the same balance helped him get beyond not competing in the 2016 Olympics to help him become the best in the world again. He has become a little less intense knowing his training will help achieve his athletic goals.
“It’s the balance with family and training,” said Grevers. “If I keep everything in balance I will be back.” When asked about the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo he said it is a goal. “I want to stay on that trajectory.”
Since his last Olympics, Grevers has had many experiences, but he said it remains the most important accomplishment in his life.
“Since I was 17 years old that has been my goal,” said Grevers. “When it happened it was a feeling like I had never had before.”
When asked if the birth of his daughter eclipsed the gold medal, Grevers said the two events were not comparable. He said love is what defines the relationship he has with his wife and daughter. Swimming championships are about accomplishments.
As a professional athlete, Grevers said social media plays a role these days with increased sponsorship opportunities. He said he can promote his sponsors’ products there but he also has to be careful what he says.
“You are not just a competitor anymore,” said Grevers. “You are an ambassador for the sport. You are a role model. You always have to remember that in what you do.”
While his ambassadorial role has made him cautious about what he puts on social media, Grevers said it is important young people in middle and high school are careful as well.
“I know my parents, sister and brother are going to see it,” said Grevers said. “You have to be proud of it. You have to remember you can change. Your political beliefs can change, but what you put on the internet will always be there.”
On another trip back to Lake Forest in 2012, Grevers was honored at the high school after winning his medals. Those prizes were on display then. He stayed there for hours as long as a student wanted to see the medals, take a picture with him or shake his hand.
“If someone wants to give me their hand I want to take it,” said Grevers. “If they are going to honor me I want to honor them back.”
Knowing he cannot remain a world-class competitive elite athlete forever, Grevers said he is starting to think about the next stage of his professional life. He has begun to take the first steps toward transition.
“I dabble a little in real estate,” said Grevers. “I may get a job in commercial real estate but I think I will always be involved in swimming, maybe as a coach. I have a lot I want to give back.”
Grevers and his family live in Tucson. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2007, he moved there because training in an outdoor pool offered better conditions for national and international competition, he said.
Here’s a photo of Matt Grevers from the October 2012 Forest & Bluff: