A Look At Some Team USA Talents Outside of the Pool
Ohio State University junior, Hunter Armstrong, wowed the swimming world last month at the USA Olympic Team Trials when he qualified for his first Olympic Games with a runnerup finish in the 100-meter backstroke. Last week, he impressed America some more via a video released by USA Swimming. The footage showed him announcing Team USA’s captains through his magic act.
Photo Courtesy: Hunter Armstrong
It is a craft Armstrong has been working on almost as long as he’s been swimming and started because one of his teammates “fooled (him) with a trick.” Armstrong says he was “determined to learn how his teammate did the trick,” so he started watching YouTube videos to learn the basics, then created a few moves of his own. Armstrong’s favorite part about magic is the fact that a “simple card trick might just be enough to turn around someone’s day.” He hopes his skills can continue to make people smile.
This rookie is not the only one with a performance-based secondary skill set. While these Olympic swimmers are revered for their in-pool prowess, there’s more to these athletes than their fast times. Several Olympic swimmers are also musicians. Lilly King, the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 breaststroke, plays the piano. Future Texas Longhorn, Erica Sullivan, who will be racing the 1500 freestyle in Tokyo, plays the guitar. University of Louisville alum, Zach Harting, also plays the guitar. Additionally, the 200 butterfly champion from Trials has taken up the ukulele since arriving in Hawaii for training camp.
Along with her speed in the 100 breaststroke, teenager Lydia Jacoby has musical talents as well. Music has always played a big role in her life and she is an accomplished bassist, guitarist, pianist, and singer. The high school senior was a member of the Snow River String Band for six years and performed with the group in festivals and events around her home state of Alaska. Since rising in the ranks in swimming, she still plays, but just for fun. While she doesn’t aspire to have a career in music, she’d “love to continue playing music and maintain and improve” her skills.
Veteran Tom Shields and Olympic rookie Michael Andrew both took their aquatic skills and love for water to greater depths. Shields, who will be representing Team USA in the 100 butterfly, dives, spearfishes, and surfs in California. Since moving to the same state in 2018, Andrew said he “has become obsessed with the ocean and all that it has to offer.” He described his love for the ocean and the vulnerability he feels when being tossed by waves as a way to get perspective and appreciation for the blessings around him. A former wakeboarder in Kansas, he picked up surfing on the west coast, after years of watching videos and documentaries on the sport. The multi event Olympian, who will compete in the 100 breaststroke, 200 IM and 50 freestyle in Tokyo, shared that whenever he has the chance, he’s “in the water surfing to get away from the stress of training and performance.”