When she runs into former classmates from Brookwood High, Amanda Weir has a pretty easy answer for the “So, what are you up to now?” question. It’s what she was doing when she graduated in 2004 — swimming at a world-class level.
“It’s almost like I’m still doing the same thing after all these years,” Weir said. “But I love it. I haven’t been able to pull myself away from the pool. No apologies there. I love it.”
Less than a year after appearing in her third Olympics, Weir is continuing the pool grind at 31. Competing for SwimAtlanta, the club she joined as a 10-year-old and with which she developed into a prodigy, Weir will swim in the Pro Swim Series meet at Georgia Tech’s McCauley Aquatic Center this weekend. The four-day meet begins Thursday. Olympic champions Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Anthony Ervin and Lilly King headline the event.
Weir, who owns four Olympic medals and held the 100-meter freestyle American record from 2009 until Manuel broke it at the Olympics last year, has been training practically since she returned from Brazil in August. Weir got back on a Thursday and was back in the pool by the following Monday or Tuesday, she said.
Part of her eagerness was frustration over being left off the U.S. 4x100-meter freestyle relay team for the event’s finals heat. Part of it was a concession to age.
“Frankly, it hurts too much to get back in shape at my age, so I kept on going,” Weir said with a laugh.
Weir, married and living in Decatur, practices at Tech with a SwimAtlanta high-school training group. She swims in the morning, goes through dryland work in the afternoon (weights or Pilates or yoga) and returns to the pool for a second practice in the evening.
“I always think that works out great,” she said of training with high schoolers. “They keep me on my toes. They’re always so enthusiastic about everything, so that kind of rubs off. I feel like I have to do everything right to be a good example for them. It’s good for both ways you look at it.”
She makes a modest living on a salary drawn from USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee, a program that has helped extend careers of other swimmers besides Weir. She also receives payments for participating in swim clinics.
“It’s swimming — it’s not football,” Weir said. “I don’t think the money is why we do it in this sport. Maybe that’s a good thing.”
Despite being more than 10 years older than some of her competition, Weir still is in top form. At the U.S. winter nationals in December at Tech, her 200-yard freestyle time (1:43.98) was faster than any time she had recorded in the event in more than 10 years.
Swimming the opening leg of the 4x100 free relay in the Olympic prelims in August, she put down a 53.60, which proved the 15th fastest time of the year in the world. It was also faster than the three 100-free times she swam at the U.S. Olympic trials and faster than the trials times recorded by the swimmer (Dana Vollmer) who replaced her in the finals relay.
“I don’t want to say I’ve totally trust in how we (select the finals relay team), but I will definitely go into things with my eyes wide open at this point,” she said. “I left everything I had in the pool, so it’s tough that that wasn’t enough. I hope to make it enough with every swim that I do.”
Weir will be pointing toward qualifying for the world championship team that will compete in Budapest, Hungary, in July. Not counting her three Olympic berths, it would be her seventh time representing the U.S. at a world championship meet. She can earn a spot on the world team at the U.S. national championships, which starts June 27 in Indianapolis. She’ll swim the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles this weekend.
“I’m not ready to totally say I’m in it for 2020 yet,” she said. “A lot of stuff can happen. Everything takes a lot longer to heal at 31, all the little stuff like shoulder and back injuries puts me out of it for a while. It’s hard to commit for three years, but I’m still having a blast. I can see it.”