That had easily been the highlight of an up-and-down four years — mainly down the past two — for Grevers since becoming a surprise 100-meter backstroke silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics.
Until Wednesday night, that is, when he also became the guy headed to the 2012 Olympics as the second fastest ever in the event.
The Lake Forest High School and Northwestern grad utterly dominated all three of his 100 back races at these U.S. OIympic swimming trials, taking the final in 52.08 seconds. Only two-time Olympic 100 backstroke champion Aaron Peirsol has swum faster (51.94).
When the race ended and he saw the time, Grevers alternated pounding the water with one fist and pounding the air with the other. Then he raced across the deck to hug his parents, sister and brother-in-law, all of whom were crying.
“Ryan Lochte, (Michael) Phelps, they know they are going to make it. I didn’t,” Grevers said. “Of course, I’m going to get pumped up. (The world record) is in my sights now. It’s not just a dream. … Right now I’m in the league Aaron was in.”
Chandler would have to wait to share her fiance’s excitement because she was swimming in the next race, the 100-meter breaststroke final. She watched Grevers with some of their Tucson Ford teammates on a big screen television near the warm-up pool.
“I wasn’t surprised by the outcome, but I was elated,” Chandler said. “I know Matt has incredible swims ahead of him. His goals are lofty ones.”
Chandler would finish fifth, so her swimming career likely is going to end after the 200-meter breaststroke later this week. Then she can begin planning so the wedding isn’t as big surprise as the proposal.
“It’s sad because it is kind of a new beginning for me, and the end of a chapter for her,” Grevers said.
Chandler was wearing a sweatshirt and a towel around her waist when Grevers dropped to a knee on the awards podium where she had presented him the first-place medal at a Grand Prix meet in Columbia, Mo. He popped the question, dug a ring box out of his warm-up pants and gave it to his longtime girlfriend, who soon collapsed to her knees under the weight of the emotion.