Go Away With … Jason Lezak

Photo courtesy of FINIS

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
August 7, 2012

The 2012 London Olympics is the fourth Olympics in which American swimmer Jason Lezak, has competed. He swam in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay preliminaries, which helped the United States reach the finals, where they won a silver medal. While this race wasn’t quite as exciting as the same race at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 — where Lezak swam the crucial anchor leg that helped propel the U.S. to a gold medal — the California-based athlete says every competition at the Games has been memorable in its own way. Lezak, 36, spoke from London, about how swimming has given him an opportunity to see the world.

Q. Besides winning for Team USA, what did you hope to get out of the London Olympics?

A. I wanted to enjoy the Games from a different perspective. This is the first time I was done (with all my races) so early. Now I can fully support my team without having to worry about preparing for the next race.

Q. Do you have a difficult time finding the right type of food to eat when you’re in a foreign country for a competition?

A. In the Olympic Village, it’s no problem. They have food from all over the world to choose from. When I travel for meets without Team USA and I’m on my own, it can sometimes be difficult to order when you can’t read the menu. I have often gotten things that I didn’t expect.

Q. Have you been to London before?

A. I have been here before, but I never really did any sightseeing. I’ll see as much as I can in the short amount of time I have once the swimming is over before I head home

Q. How much opportunity is there to see the city you’re competing in when you’re at a major competition such as the Olympics?

A. There isn’t time when the competitions are going on. If you want to see the city you need to stay around after.

Q. Of all the Olympics you’ve been to, what has been your most memorable Olympic moment?

A. Easy. The 400-free team relay in Beijing.

Q. When you visit other countries where swimming is a high-profile sport, are the people nice to you?

A. Australia is actually one of my favorite countries to visit. I’ve been there about 10 times. They love swimming and it was unusual for me to be recognized so much in public. But the popularity of the sport is amazing in Australia and they know their swimmers. They are actually really nice people and treat me well, even though we are their biggest rival in swimming.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Bora Bora.

Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. There’s so much to do. I loved swimming with the sharks. I was definitely afraid of the sharks, though. They came straight toward us and veered off at the last second. We went snorkeling, canoeing, went on a Jeep tour of the island, saw a Polynesian show. … We also ate at the famous Bloody Mary’s.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. I went to Japan when I was 11 and had a great time. I stayed with a Japanese family, so I got to see the culture from their perspective. Every year, a team from Japan would come train with our club and stay with our families, and we did the same. I went with several of my teammates and coach.

Q. How was your introduction to authentic, Japanese food?

A. I was so young and not adventurous at all when I was 11. So, I had a difficult time eating a lot of the food.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Anywhere that is warm and relaxing.

Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?

A. Nowhere. Nothing beats home.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Africa. I really want to go on a safari.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. If I’m not swimming, all I need are clothes and a wall adapter.

Q. What would be your dream trip?

A. One thing that I’ve never done, which I’m really looking forward to doing one day, is to go on a cruise.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. If I’m not swimming, then lots of desserts!

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. I usually don’t do that much and just figure it out when I get there.


© 2012 JAE-HA KIM


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