MESA, Ariz. — Five days after their wedding, Matt Grevers whisked away his bride to a cozy, little place on the water.
The locals refer to it as the Skyline Aquatics Center. That’s where the two-time gold medalist at the London Olympics is competing this weekend in the Mesa edition of USA Swimming’s Grand Prix Series.
“It’s kinda part of the honeymoon,” Grevers, who struck Olympic gold in the 100–meter backstroke and 400-medley relay last summer, said Thursday morning. “It’s a very open, public part of it . . . but I wanted to come to this meet, a lot of friends are in this meet, it’s so close to home and every meet I go to in Phoenix is such a warm, welcoming meet.
“What wife would let you go to a swim meet the week after you get married?”
That would be Annie Chandler, whose own elite-level swimming career ended with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke at last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials.
“Ah, the life of a professional swimmer,” said Chandler, who married Grevers last Saturday in her hometown of San Antonio, with a smile. “This is kind of fun for us. It’s just really where our social group is. It’s kind of another reunion after the wedding.”
It had been rumored that Grevers was going to compete in a swim cap reading “Just Married,” but the texture of this sport-specific wedding gift created too much drag in the water. He did wear the cap while warming up Thursday morning.
Chandler and Grevers, who live in Tucson and have been a couple for five years, were engaged for 14 months. Grevers’ well-chronicled proposal occurred on the gold-medal stand at the Missouri Grand Prix and became a YouTube, swimming-community hit.
“Completely,” Chandler said when asked if the down-on-one-knee, black-box moment caught her by surprise. “I thought he was going to wait until after the Olympic Trials, because that’s what we were both training for.
“We were very swimming-centric at the time, so I didn’t think he’d want to distract himself with planning a proposal.”
It doesn’t take long to realize Grevers’ obvious, long-term commitment to swimming is a distant second to his relationship and marriage.
“We’re in the clouds right now,” he said, “nothing bad can happen. But it’s great being able to rely on someone and just know that she’s there no matter if I mess up, no matter what.
“It’s cool having that sense of security, knowing that someone has your back . . . forever.”
For Chandler — whose father, Tom, played linebacker in the NFL — coming from the same sport at the same competitive level should be beneficial moving forward.
“It’s neat that we both know the ins and outs of the sport,” she said, “and I think it’s a metaphor for the obstacles that we’ll face in life.
“I’ve seen him after a bad race and how he handles that situation. It’s an important thing to us. It’s presented us with a lot of real-life experiences that will be useful in our marriage.”
To make a relationship work, those involved typically are advised to make certain personal sacrifices. But for Chandler, 25, the list of sacrifices doesn’t include swimming. Her retirement, she said, was more a function of timing than circumstance.
“It’s great,” she said when asked about attending a meet as a spectator only. “I would be swimming the 200 back today, and I have no envy for those girls swimming that this weekend.
“I think it was the perfect time to for me to hang up the goggles.”
Chandler, who still works out in the pool two or three times per week, has started to focus on her career. She studied journalism at the University of Arizona, but is taking a broad approach to deciding on a long-term occupation.
For now, her hubby is vigorously committed to Chandler and swimming.
“I’m going to compete as long as my body lets me,” Grevers, 28, said. “I don’t really put a limit on it one way or the other. My sights are definitely going to be Rio (de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympics) and I would love to continue swimming after that. It’s something I really enjoy and love.”
So was World of Warcraft, where — known as the character Nu among his videogame cohorts — he used to invest a nice chunk of his down time.
“She nixed that,” Grevers said. “I haven’t played that in a while, unfortunately. Video games were the first to go.”
Yeah, marriage really does require sacrifice. But listening to Grevers suggests he has no regrets.
“The biggest part for me was the first time I saw her in her wedding dress,” he said. “It’s like I got hit in the chest . . . I didn’t think I’d really cry or tear up, but I did. I cried. I was kind of embarrassed at first, but I embraced it.
“It was a beautiful moment. I get to marry this beautiful woman, the most beautiful woman in the world . . . greatest woman. When I saw her walking toward me down the aisle, that was it. The rest was kind of a blur.”
Well, it certainly seems that Matt Grevers is in deep. And it has nothing to do with the swimming pool at that cozy, little honeymoon hideaway in east Mesa.