Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but I thought it only fitting to share a story of how one group of swimmers from the “City of Brotherly Love” showed their love and appreciation towards their hometown hero.
The trip was a homecoming of sorts for Brendan who grew up about 20 miles away in Havertown, PA. I had the privilege of staying with Brendan’s family who hosted us that weekend.
One of the messages I always share at the BREAKout! clinics is the idea of unconditional love. A parent’s unconditional love is a big part of any swimmer’s success, both in and out of the pool. I saw this truth in action during my stay with the Hansens. His parents and two siblings are such kind and genuine people, and they were amazing hosts. Now I know why Brendan has so much motivation and love for a sport that is so demanding…his family loves him no matter what!
The atmosphere at the clinic was truly electric as the Upper Dublin swimmers spent four hours with their hometown hero (and the fastest breaststroker in the world!).
The highlight of the day was when I pulled Brendan aside and challenged him to break a pool record. He said he would give it a shot.
I then turned to the swimmers and parents at the clinic and announced, "You've seen Brendan Hansen break records on t.v. at the biggest meets in the world. How would you like to see him break a record right here in this pool??!!”
My question was met with wild cheering for several minutes while Brendan tightened his goggles and prepared for 100 yards of breaststroke.
To set the stage a little bit, Brendan had not warmed up and we had already been teaching in a chilly pool for two hours. The pool record in the 100-yd. breaststroke was :58 seconds. I had seen Brendan pull off a :56 second 100 breast in the middle of a clinic before, so I knew the pool record was probably going down. I had no idea what Brendan was capable of though.
The swimmers and parents grew quiet for the start, anticipating that something special was about to happen. I grabbed the microphone again and turned to Brendan on the blocks, "World-Record Holder, take your mark!...Go!!!"
What happened next was one of the most amazing swimming displays I have ever seen.
Brendan was in a strange pool, unshaved, and probably tired after already working with kids for several hours. But anyone who says that cheering and support from the deck does not help a swimmer go faster should have been there that day.
Brendan knew how important his swim was to those kids. He realized that he used to be one of those kids.
He swam the first 50 yards in a blazing :25 seconds and came back in :28 seconds to finish with an amazing time of :53.9!!!
Not only did he destroy the pool record, but he swam one of the fastest times in the country this year!!!
Those swimmers will never forget when they witnessed a living legend do something amazing.
Brendan is an awesome example of a world-class athlete who is so generous with his time and continues to give back to the sport and its next generation of swimmers.
As Brendan competes in the Missouri Grand Prix this weekend and the World Championships next month, a group of swimmers in Pennsylvania will cheer him on with added interest and say to each other, “Remember when…”
We’re proud that you are representing Team USA, Brendan. And on behalf of the Upper Dublin swimmers, Happy Valentine’s Day! You are loved!
5-Time Olympic Medalist