Van Dyken Rouen back in broadcast booth

Six-time Olympic champion Amy Van Dyken Rouen made her return to the broadcast booth on Friday when she called the live telecast of No. 14 USC and No. 3 California for the Pac-12 Network.

Van Dyken Rouen, who was paralyzed in an ATV accident last June, has been inspiring many people with her gung-ho attitude and belief she will walk again. Her legion of fans are now known as Amy’s Army. Van Dyken Rouen is also slated to call the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming Championships Feb. 25-28.

Here’s a video by the Pac-12 Network featuring Van Dyken Rouen as well.

And Janie McCauley of the Associated Press did a nice story on Van Dyken Rouen…

Amy Van Dyken

Amy Van Dyken returns to broadcast booth after ATV accident

BERKELEY, Calif. — Amy Van Dyken pushed herself across one of Berkeley’s busy streets in her wheelchair and up a ramp into her special broadcast booth overlooking the pool deck, beaming the whole way.

The six-time Olympic gold medal swimmer returned to work with the Pac-12 Networks on Friday, nearly eight months after an all-terrain vehicle accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Van Dyken flew into the Bay Area from Arizona to call the USC-California women’s swim meet, and she figured it was a perfect return given there would be about a dozen potential Olympians — including Missy Franklin — in the pool on a picture-perfect day.

Van Dyken is thrilled people are getting to know her in a far different way than the ultra-competitive person she was as an elite swimmer who became one of the best in the world despite her asthma.

“A lot of people didn’t get to see that, they got to see the staring the competitor down, the slapping, the grunting, the spitting,” she said. “So they thought that I was a grumpy grumperson. I love that the world gets to see the real me now. That’s really cool to me. Being the Olympian and the gold medalist helps me get through therapy every day, because there are days that I don’t want to do it. I want to just go home and cuddle with my dog.

“I’m going for more than a gold medal right now. I’m going to get my life back. So, suck it up buttercup and get it done.”

Her triumphant return Friday was a huge step toward that, “getting back to normalcy.” She has long hoped to impact one person. Now, she knows the numbers who might find inspiration in her story are in the thousands or millions.

“She was a champion in swimming,” Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans said. “This redefines champion.”

From the second she came out of surgery last June, Van Dyken planned for this day. It was about two months ago when she began calling her agent again. She was ready.

“Listen, I knew that I wasn’t ever going to walk again, that was pretty much a given. And I knew all the things that come with being a paraplegic, I got that,” she said. “But I knew it wasn’t going to change me as a person, especially if I’m doing my broadcasting. The fact that I can sit here, the paraplegia does not affect my brain or my mouth. This job is perfect.”

Once Van Dyken said her hellos and got settled, she went to work writing lineups and prepping. She repeatedly clicked a pen with her right thumb, inquiring about the lane configurations and other meet details.

While visiting with the producer and director for the broadcast, Van Dyken was as upbeat as ever.

“Really good to be back,” said Van Dyken, wearing a navy Pac-12 Networks polo with black leggings. “I love my setup. Thank you guys so much. Awesome, love it — love it!”

Van Dyken had a flight home to Phoenix scheduled later Friday. She knows that’s an exhausting day for an able-bodied person.

“For a paralyzed person, it’s really tough, but you know what, I’m going to rock it out,” she said. “That’s getting my life back.”

Van Dyken, who turns 42 on Feb. 15, severed her spine last June in a crash when she and husband, Tom Rouen, who was on his motorcycle, were on their way to dinner. When he found her, she wasn’t breathing, and it took four minutes before she did. Leading up to surgery, they were told to prepare for the worst, because a vertebra was right up against her aorta and with one slip she could be gone.

“Her attitude has just never wavered through this whole thing,” Rouen, a former NFL punter, said. “She’s really done it with a smile on her face every single day. … You want to feel normal. This goes a long way toward that.”

Van Dyken reminds herself to cherish how far she has come after surviving such a frightening ordeal.

“Here’s the thing, I look at it and I say, ‘I almost died,'” she said. “I would hate for my last day to be remembered as a sour puss. I look at it now and say, ‘You don’t know what’s around the corner, don’t be a sour puss.’… I never had an ‘Oh, poor me moment,’ I never had a ‘What if?’ I never had a ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ I got into this accident. That’s what happened. Take what you’re dealt, learn from it, and then move on.”

Adrian edged by Fratus in 50 free finals in Austin

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus edged Nathan Adrian of Bremerton in the finals of the 50-meter freestyle Friday at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas.
Fratus won in a time of 21.91 seconds, to set a world junior record. Adrian touched the wall in 22.17 while Kristian Gkolam of the University of Alabama was third in 22.31.
Adrian had already won the 100 freestyle on Thursday and was looking to make it a clean sweep of the sprint freestyles.

Adrian wins 100 free at Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin

Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian won the 100-meter freestyle at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet at Austin, Texas, Thursday.

Adrian touched the wall a half a bodylength ahead of Conor Dwyer in 49.11 seconds. Dwyer finished in 49.60 and Ryan Murphy was third in 49.88.

It was Adrian’s first race of the calendar year. He was in second place in the APS series’ overall standings behind Tyler Clary heading into Thursday’s event.

Adrian is in training for the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, July 24-August 9. The worlds are a pre-curser to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Adrian back in water at Austin Pro Series

Bremerton Olympic champion Nathan Adrian is one of several headliners that is scheduled to compete in the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin, Jan 15-17. The series was formally known as the Arena Grand Prix. Also scheduled to swim are Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte, Tyler Clarey, Ntalie Coughlin, Anthony Ervin and Matt Grevers.

The three-day meet will take place at the University of Texas’ swimming center. Prelims are at 7 a.m. with finals at 4 p.m. Pacific time.

Universal Sports Network will air TV coverage of the meet Jan. 16 and 17 (check local listings for time). Also, USA Swimming will webcast the complete meet.

Adrian interview from Golden Goggles online

If you haven’t checked it out yet, go to Eve And Candace’s YouTube page (or click here) to watch the “worlds’ foremost unknown swim vloggers” interview Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian at the Golden Goggles earlier this month.

It’s pretty good stuff as the ladies and Nathan discuss his Christmas list, his love of all things Pixar, training for the 2015 World Championships in Russia and more.

Locals fare well at PNS Champs

There are some local swimmers I wanted to mention who swim for Tacoma Swim Club that competed at the Pacific Northwest Swimming Short Course Championships Dec. 18-21 at KCAC in Federal Way.

Tyler Stewart of Silverdale, 10, qualified for every event offers for his age and out of the six individual events, Stewart medaled in all of them — fourth in the 50 free, third in the 500 free, fifth in the 50 breast, sixth in the 100 breast, third in the 100 IM, and third in the 200 IM. He also swam in two relays, in which the team earned ribbons, and has earned six regional times.

Stewart’s brother, Curtis, 9, also earned two individual ribbons and two relay ribbons.

Here’s the link to check out how all our local swimmers fared. The season is somewhat quiet with a handful of January challenge meets before the 39th Washington Open Jan. 15.  The Washington State YMCA Championships are slated for Jan. 31. The schedule heats up again in the spring with the Speedo Championship Series March 15, NWAG Regionals March 22, and the Spring Divisional Championships March 29.

Adrian rattles own American record at Oklahoma Pro-Am

Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian came close to breaking his own American record in the 50-yard freestyle Saturday at the Oklahoma Elite Pro-Am.

Adrian touched the wall in 18.67 seconds, just off his record of 18.66, to earn $5,000 for the win. Josh Schneider was second in 18.96. Adrian was second in the 200 freestyle on Friday. He will compete in the 100 free Sunday.

Adrian second in 200 free at Oklahoma Pro-Am

Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian was a close second to Dax Hill in the 200-yard freestyle at the Oklahoma Elite Pro-Am on Friday, hosted by the American Energy Swim Club in Edmonds.

Hill touched the wall in 1 minute, 33.15 seconds to claim the $5,000 winners check. Adrian was right behind in 1:33.18.

Adrian is also scheduled to swim in the 50 free on Saturday and the 100 free on Sunday. Prelims are at 8:30 a.m. (CST) and finals are at 5 p.m.