Published: June 25, 2013
This will be a milestone summer for Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt regardless how she does at the U.S. national championships.
The former Georgia standout, who won three gold medals and garnered a silver and bronze in London last summer, will become a professional before July's world championships in Barcelona, Spain.
"It's not much of a change other than you're getting paid to swim and for making appearances," she said. "Swimming will still be my top priority."
She enters the national championships in Indianapolis, which began Tuesday with Schmitt in the 100 freestyle consolation finals, hoping to qualify for the U.S. team at worlds and return to form by Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"I am just taking it summer by summer," she said. "This is always the toughest year because you're getting back into gear training-wise."
Many Olympians use the months after the Olympics to rest or focus on college, as Schmitt did. It doesn't mean she took it easy.
She won the 200-yard freestyle and helped the 400 and 800 freestyle relay teams to NCAA championships. Those wins pushed Georgia past California for the team title after three-straight runner-up finishes to the Golden Bears.
Schmitt, who is known for her dedication to training, used a recent high-altitude camp at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center to get back into her usual regimen.
Her pursuit of Olympic success led to coach Bob Bowman when he coached in Michigan, her home state. She followed him to the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Bowman may be best known as Michael Phelps' longtime coach.
"I know he knows how to get me to the places I need to (go)," she said. "I fully trust whatever he does."
That trust makes Schmitt excellent to mentor, Bowman said.
"She is willing to work very hard," Bowman said. "She's really open to making improvements. That is why she has improved each year."
She is also listening to Bowman and Phelps for tips on becoming a pro.
"They have really helped me with advice in how to get started but ultimately it's up to me," she said. "It's exciting for me to move on to another chapter in my life."