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Northwestern Olympians

Former Wildcat swimmer Matt Grevers (C07) spent four years at Northwestern dreaming of competing in the Olympics. (See "Born to Swim," spring 2007.) He worked hard to improve in the pool with that ultimate goal in mind. Along the way he won four national championships at Northwestern and set countless school records. Those accomplishments, though, pale in comparison to the gold and silver medals he won this summer in Beijing.

"It was the time of my life," said Grevers, who commemorated the event by getting an Olympic rings tattoo on his arm. "I got the tattoo to remind myself that it wasn't a dream."

Grevers, whose parents were born in the Netherlands, could have easily qualified for the Dutch Olympic team. Although he was deemed a long shot to make the squad, Grevers wanted to swim for the United States. He qualified for the team's 100-meter backstroke competition by a fraction of a second. Then in China, he won the silver medal in the backstoke, finishing second only to his teammate, Aaron Peirsol. Grevers also won two gold medals for participating in record-setting preliminary heats for the U.S.'s first-place relay teams in the 4x100-meter medley relay and the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.

Fresh off his Olympic fame, Grevers returned to Northwestern in October to serve as the 2008 Homecoming parade grand marshal. He was honored between quarters of the football game and signed autographs for fans.

Grevers qualified for the Olympics without even training for the backstroke, spending all his time on freestyle swimming. For the 2012 Olympics in London, Grevers says he will try to master the butterfly stroke.

Several other former Northwestern athletes participated in the Beijing Olympic Games, including two of Grevers' former teammates. Mike Alexandrov (WCAS08) competed in his second Olympic Games for Bulgaria, while junior Bruno Barbic swam as an alternate for Croatia. Former Wildcat wrestler Larry Langowski (WCAS07) (see a New York Times profile on Langowski) also competed, for his mother's home country, Mexico.

— Ryan Morton (J08)

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Matt Grevers
Matt Grevers celebrates in Beijing.Photo by Jerry Lai (WCAS04)