He's back. And we're really @$*$&@ing excited.
This weekend at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, Brendan Hansen returns to the pool. I imagine a scenario in which he arrives to Palo Alto, gets off the plane, and his entourage with a boombox plays "Hanson." Or something similar to Zoolander, with "Hansel." Something. Something will happen. It has to. Because this is one of the more exciting comebacks we've seen in the last ten years. (Will someone please play "Hanson" super loud during warm-ups at this Grand Prix?)
Why? Why is this so exciting? Well, a number of reasons.
1.) Hansen is the Karl Malone of swimming. Arguably, Hansen is one of the best 'strokers in history never to have won "the big race." He never has achieved that individual gold. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm rooting for Brendan just because it's great to have a veteran back in the pool. I couldn't care less if he wins a gold or not -- I just like to watch great legendary swimmers. But... this could be a motivating factor for this comeback. He'd be lying if he said he never thought about it. He came up with silver in 2004. Then, when everyone was seeking a Hansen vs. Kitajima 2008 Beijing show-down, Hansen missed the medal podium in the 100m breaststroke and didn't qualify in the 200m distance. He joins the list (is there a list?) of world record-holders to never have won an individual gold medal, and I'd love to see him to it.
2.) Hansen has been training. He hasn't really been taking "time off" from being "athletic." He's been rumored to be doing triathlons. He's been keeping fit. In shape. This will help, obviously, his comeback aspirations. Maybe he just needed a few years away from the pool, to try out other activities, to regain his love for swimming again. And that's really what this is all about. Getting that love back, yo!
3.) HE'S STILL YOUNG (sort of)! Hansen is only 29. Torres, Lezak, and, um, other people.... they've all taught us that swimming is like a fine wine. Gets better with age (sometimes). Hansen's comeback is more believable than someone like Janet Evans, only because he's only been a few years removed from being at the top-of-his-game-status. It wasn't THAT long ago that we saw him winning breaststroke races. Though he'll be 30 in August, what better way to celebrate the big 3-0 than by whooping on some youngens?
4.) Breaststroke events are up for grabs. Shanteau is dominating that 200m distance, but the 100m sprint breaststroke looks like it's anyone's ballgame (although Shatneau's been showing speed lately too). This comeback wouldn't nearly be as exciting if the event was in something uber-competitive, like, say, the men's 100m backstroke/freestyle. But that 100m breaststroke event is just wide freaking open. There are 53,000 guys who could win the 2012 Olympic Trials, according to Chris DeSantis. Hansen's comeback is exciting because HE ACTUALLY COULD DO IT.
5.) This video. This video is why I am, personally, excited for the return of Brendan Hansen. Enough said.
So welcome back, Brendan Hansen sir! We here at The Swim Brief look forward to living vicariously through your comeback, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend. And though this isn't at all appropriate coming from a guy who grew up in Michigan who now lives in Brooklyn, in the words of one of my favorite TV shows, Friday Night Lights.... "Texas forever, Hansen. Texas forever."