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Lucas Oil Stadium pool wows gold medal-winning Hoosier swimmer

Olympic champion visits Daybreak

IU's Zach Apple talks about U.S. Olympic Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Hoosier. A World Champion. An Olympic Gold medalist. And, this year, a spectator.

“I get a little FOMO (fear of missing out),” Zach Apple admitted Tuesday in a visit with WISH-TV’s Daybreak.

Apple’s record-breaking swimming career included an All-American season at IU in addition to soaring international success. Now he’s retired and in Indianapolis to watch friends and former competitors battle for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, starting Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I was there helping with some volunteer stuff and got to see the pool, see the set up,” Apple told us about his first visit to the football field-turned-temporary Olympic pool. “It’s amazing. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the swimming world.”

Apple is eager to see how the athletes and officials handle the stadium. For instance, the roof is 270 feet in the air, so it’s far too distant for the customary painted ceiling lines that serve as a guide during the backstroke.

“I was a freestyler, so I was always looking at the bottom of the pool. So that makes it easy. But for the backstroke, it can be tough sometimes,” explains Apple. “A lot of times they’ll run lines over the pool so they can keep their whereabouts with them.”

Apple gets a bit wistful when asked if ever wishes he was still competing. “Usually, I don’t miss it too much, the day to day grind. But, as you know, all the hype starts to build around events like this…”

Apple is such a decorated swimmer that, when asked, he humbly admits he’s lost count of his haul.

“I don’t know how many World Championships and stuff I have. But two Olympic gold medals. One from the 400 freestyle relay, and one from the 400 medley relay where we broke the world record back in Tokyo.”

In retirement, Apple is leveraging his success in the pool into a partnership with one of the sport’s iconic brands, Speedo. He says the company turned to him during research for the current generation of high-tech suits.

“I actually got to help put some tweaks on to these suits when I was an athlete,” he recalls. “They would give us samples and we would give them feedback on what, what felt good, what felt bad, where, how they could shift the panels of the suit around.”

Come Saturday, Apple will take a still-unfamiliar spot, far away from the starting blocks.

“I will be sitting in the stands for the most of it, just watching and cheering on. It’s actually a little more nerve-wracking now because I can’t control anything that’s happening. I’m just sitting in the stands watching, but it’s fun.”

The U.S. Olympic swimming trials run through Sunday, June 23.

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