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Shannen's Heap o'Random Babblings

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I really need to move....
chris fall by rainbowkisses31
shannenb
To Austin:

Pool of Olympic talent is deep
Peirsol, Crocker and Hanson living here, training for more gold.

By John Maher


Former University of Texas swim stars Aaron Peirsol, Ian Crocker and Brendan Hansen aren't homegrown talent, the way most of the Longhorns' Texas-bred football standouts are, but imports from such far-flung places as California, Maine and Pennsylvania.

They came to Austin, won NCAA titles, set world records and struck Olympic gold. Now, the three have bought houses here and put down roots as they begin a four-year cycle that will set them on course for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

"Now, when the plane lands in Austin, I feel like I'm at home, and that's a good feeling," Hansen said.

The three are resuming training here after recently making the U.S. team for the World Championships in Montreal this summer. They're all finishing up their studies at UT while pursuing careers as professional swimmers.

None is quite as well-positioned in the marketplace as eight-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, whose deal with an MP3 maker figures to double his earnings to $2 million a year, or Amanda Beard, who'll soon be hawking a line of signature fragrances and hair care products. But all three are current world record-holders who could command six-figure incomes as some of the most recognizable names in the increasingly global sport of swimming.

Crocker's main endorsement deal is with Speedo, while Hansen and Peirsol are with Nike. Peirsol, along with Beard, also endorses a bottled water, Penta.

"Every four years it gets a little better," Texas ex Josh Davis said of the earnings power for top swimmers. "Back in 1988, there were only three swimmers making a living from the sport."

The three Austin swimmers also cashed in on the bonuses awarded by USA Swimming for medal-winning swimmers at the Athens Olympics -- $50,000 for individual gold, $25,000 for silver and $12,500 for bronze (with relay awards shared among team members). Peirsol won two individual and one relay gold in Athens. Hansen had individual silver and bronze medals and a relay gold, while Crocker had an individual silver and relay gold and bronze medals.

Their winning ways continued last month at the U.S. trials in Indianapolis, where Peirsol stunned almost everyone, including himself, by setting a world record in the 100-meter backstroke. He broke his old mark of 53.45, set last summer, with a 53.17. The record came despite taking it somewhat easier this year after trying to peak for the U.S. Olympic Trials and Athens Games in 2004.

Peirsol won both his events in Indianapolis, as did Hansen.

"The Texas guys were better prepared than most," Hansen said. "It gave me a marker going into the summer what I need to do. And getting into racing again got me excited."

Crocker finished second to Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly, just as he did in the Olympics after beating Phelps in the Olympic Trials.

"The main job there was to qualify for the team, and I did that, just get it done and start working again," Crocker said.

Now back home in Austin, Crocker and Hansen have bought houses not too far from the pool in the Circle C subdivision of Southwest Austin, where they do some of their training. "It's pretty convenient," Crocker said. "Getting furniture and getting the house set up has been a lot of fun and it keeps you busy as well. I'm just trying to find some cool furniture, antiques, something that makes it look unique. I've been getting an eclectic mix."

Crocker has been running his errands in his pickup. The classic muscle car he's been restoring, a Riviera, has been in local shops longer than a lot of mechanics. It's been two years now and counting.

"The motor started for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It sounds great," Crocker offered.

The car was briefly assembled for a photo shoot for ESPN The Magazine, for a feature about athletes and their cars, but then torn apart for more work.

Of his Olympic experience, Crocker said, "It was definitely a learning period. It didn't turn out the way I wanted, but at the same time I'm not too disappointed because I felt like I was given my challenges and did the best I could to meet them."

Crocker is currently taking nine hours at UT but plans to scale back and chip away at his degree while concentrating on his swimming, doing clinics and making appearances.

Hansen is going the other route, taking 15 hours and planning to graduate in December.

Hansen, who grew up in Pennsylvania, enjoys hunting and has a 14-foot boat that he and fellow swimmer Neil Walker like to take fishing.

Austin suits him well. "You can drive 10 minutes and be in the city or 15 minutes the other way and be in the middle of nowhere," Hansen said. "You can go camping on the lake and be in solitude or you can go downtown and be shoulder to shoulder with people watching a concert."

For Peirsol, the ocean has always had pull, and he thought he'd go back to California after college, maybe even open a surf shop. But he and his father recently bought some property in Costa Rica. He figures that getaway, a four-hour flight from Houston, might turn out to be the beach house of his dreams instead of something in California. In the past few weeks, he's become the newest Austin homeowner of the three.

"The more I come back here and the more I see of Southern California, the more I have a passion for Austin," Peirsol said. "Southern California is so crazy right now. I love it here in Austin; there's so much character, so much culture.

"Austin is not what you think of Texas as being. I think it's an oasis. It's got lakes, water, and it's very wooded. The atmosphere is great here, and the music. Great bands come through and good bands that you've never even heard of."

Peirsol new home is centrally located, not far from the UT campus. Like Hansen he plans on keeping it even after he's done with swimming.

"If I moved," Hansen said, "I'd like to have a house here so I could always come back. Austin is a tough place to leave."

jmaher@statesman.com


Everyone I know who has lived there or been there tells me they just love the place. One of my co-workers moved from Texas (the Dallas area) but she's lived all over Texas and tells me daily, "You'd love Austin. You should move there." Of course, she doesn't know that the place is littered with hot swimmer boys! LOL!


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Seriously. Shannen we should ge get an apt together right in the middle of all the swim hot. I'm serious about this. Lets go. Now.

Hehe--well, it *is* cheaper to live there than it is to live in Ohio.... ;)

But man--getting my agent license transferred would probably be a pain and a half. Texas probably isn't like Arizona, where they'll just give your a resident agent license as long as you have a license in good standing in another state. I really wouldn't want to take those classes or the exam again. Blech!


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Hehe--well, Brendan does need a roomie now. If you can cook (not Ramen noodles) he'd probably be thrilled! LOL!

Count me in..more people, less everyone pays in rent :)
Shannen, I was telling Sarah earlier about, when I went to Maryland. We are sitting in IHOP waiting on our table, when the lady next to me points to my Texas bracelet, and goes "Oh, do you go to UT?" I couldn't help but laugh, I go " Hah! I wish I did. Sadly no, I don't" She continues to tell me she went there, and that of all the places she has ever lived, she loves and missed Austin the most. She talked about how awesome Austin was for a good 15 mins, and I sure didn't mind hearing all about it.

Hee--I'm wearing my Texas swimming T-shirt to work today (which my co-worker loved) and while I was in line to get coffee this morning, the dude at the counter was all, "Wow--I miss Austin!" I'm thinking why in the heck did you move to Ohio to work at a Starbucks for then! LOL!

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