June 22nd, 2012
02:01 PM ET

After more than a decade, Janet Evans plunges back into competition

By Chuck Conder, CNN

Huntington Beach, California (CNN) - It's dark. Sunrise is still more than an hour away as Janet Evans tucks a last strand of dark hair beneath her latex swim cap.

"This is the hardest part," she says as she stares into the blue light reflected up out of the pool and prepares to plunge into another day of exhausting training. By day's end, Evans will have logged up to 10 miles in the pool and 45 minutes of intense training in the weight room.

Her goal seems an impossible dream, an Olympic comeback after 15 years in retirement. She will compete in U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800-meter freestyle next week.

At 40, Evans still retains the effervescent smile that warmed the nation's heart so long ago. Gone is the pixie haircut. It's been replaced with a more sophisticated shoulder-length style more fitting a busy post-retirement career as a wife, a mother of two, an Olympics booster and a motivational speaker. She is currently representing Metamucil.

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