Olympic Swimmer Conor Dwyer hit the pool on the first night of competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, where he finished fourth in the 400-meter freestyle. Fortunately for the 27-year-old Illinois native, Dwyer will have two more chances to bring home an Olympic gold medal to add to his collection when he competes in the 200-meter freestyle and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. At the 2012 Olympics, Dwyer was a member of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay team that won gold. He also swam the 400-meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympics and finished fifth.
Below, you can get to know the 6-foot-5-inch middle-distance swimmer with these five fast facts.
1. Dwyer started swimming when he was very young.
Conor first started competing on a local swim team when he was 7-years-old because he thought it would be fun, but his experience in the pool began much earlier. The 27-year-old told NBC Olympics that his earliest memories of the pool involve swimming with his grandmother and many of his cousins.
“I started swimming around 2-years-old. My other grandmother would take about 20 of her grandchildren to the pool every Sunday and she called us her swim team. My family was always around water and having fun.”
Even then, competitive swimming was a part of Dwyer’s blood: His mother, Jeanne, was an All-American swimmer at Florida State University.
2. Dwyer’s collegiate and post-collegiate career took him all over the country.
Dwyer started his college swimming career with the University of Iowa before he eventually moved on to the University of Florida. After he graduated from Florida in 2012 with a degree in sports management, Conor began his tour of post-collegiate training programs. After training for a while with his college coach, Gregg Troy, Dwyer opted to move to the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and train with Michael Phelps. Eventually, Conor landed in Southern California and now trains with the Trojan Swim Club under coaches Dave Salo and Jon Urbanchek.
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3. Conor has a close friendship with Olympic great Janet Evans.
Dwyer first met Janet Evans as a child because Evans was a motivational speaker for the company Conor’s father worked with. Dwyer and Evans remained friends, and when it came time for him to transfer from the University of Iowa, it was Evans who helped facilitate Dwyer’s move to the University of Florida, Dwyer told NBC Olympics.
“Janet helped me find the University of Florida and Gregg Troy to train with after my sophomore year in college. This truly gave me the opportunity to swim with the best and become an Olympic contender. She has always been there for me and her amazing swimming career speaks for itself.”
4. Dwyer has a large and extremely close family.
Dywer has three brothers, including a twin, and one sister. Conor’s immediate family is very close, but perhaps more impressive is the closeness of his extended family. Dwyer has about 35 first cousins, and when he competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, more than 40 family members attended the Games, and before the 2016 Olympics began, Dwyer told NBC Olympics that even more family members planned to travel to Rio to watch him swim.
5. Conor likes to spend his free time outdoors and participating in other sports.
When he’s not training or competing, Dwyer likes to participate in a range of other athletic activities, most of which take place outdoors. He enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing and golfing, he said. As a youngster he participated in several sports outside of swimming, including baseball, football, basketball, water polo and hockey.
In fact, Dwyer still plays hockey at least once each year. His extended family has a unique tradition: Each year at Christmastime, the Dwyer’s rent out an ice arena and have a family hockey game. Because of that, Dwyer told NBC Olympics that he likes to practice his skating skills throughout the year.
“We have a big family Christmas hockey game every year and this encourages me try and keep my skating decent. My dad always built an ice rink in our backyard every winter for me and my brothers.”
Will you tune in to watch Conor Dwyer swim during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games?
[Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]