Live chat with swimming's Gary Hall Jr.
Highlights of a live chat with former swimming Gary Hall Jr.
Gary Hall Jr., a three-time Olympic swimmer, talked about his career and his diabetes ahead of the NCAA men's swimming championships Thursday through Saturday in Federal Way in a live chat Tuesday with readers.
Q: What are you up to these days? Still swimming?
Hall: My involvement in the pool includes teaching my four-year-old son the proper form of a cannonball, and that's the extent of it.
I'm obviously a little bit biased, but I think he's got real potential.
Q: How did your diabetes affect your career?
Hall: When I was diagnosed with diabetes, there weren't any Olympians that had competed with Type 1 diabetes. And it was unknown whether I could or not, if it was possible. I was told by two doctors that it would be the end of my swimming career. Managing diabetes is really a difficult thing to do, and I tried to hide that from the competitors I had to race against. I thought it was a psychological advantage for them.
I'd have to draw blood 25 times in a day, just to manage my diabetes on a competition day. I would have to give myself up to 10 shots of insulin a day.
Q: What's your favorite Olympics memory?
Hall: Obvious answer is winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games. That medal symbolizes that you are the best in the world at something you dedicated your life to. I challenge anybody to say that modestly.
Q: Talk about the kind of hours in the pool and the dedication it took for you to succeed.
Hall: The Olympic Games' motto is "Faster, Higher, Stronger." And the point of the Olympics is to test the boundaries of human capacity. And the performances at the Olympics, you push yourself to the point of failure. So this is reflected in our daily training. And it wasn't uncommon at all for a teammate or myself to collapse or fall down and just start vomiting in the up to eight hours of training that we did daily.
Q: Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates on the U.S. team?
Hall: Yes, Nathan Adrian from Bremerton. He swam at Cal Berkeley and is the top-ranked sprinter in the United States. He's a former teammate of mine, and I'm cheering for him. I really think he's the guy to watch in London. But I stay in touch with countless swimmers that I trained with and competed against over the years.
Q: I heard you lived in Seattle for some time. What did you think of the city and what did you enjoy most about it?
Hall: The music scene. The culture and the arts. By reputation and in reality, Seattle is a very hip place. And rainy.
Q: What sports or hobbies are you into these days?
Hall: Surfing. I like surfing.
I've taken up some cycling.
Q: Who was your toughest competitor when you were swimming?
Hall: Alex Popov was, and still is, considered a legend of the sport, and our rivalry was sincere; that wasn't staged. He was tough to beat, and it gave me great pleasure to beat him.
I crank call him like three times a week, and with the time zone difference to Russia, it ends up being like four o'clock in the morning. It's hilarious. He changed his number and he won't give it to me anymore.