LONDON -- When these gilded American swimmers leave London and return home, off to do the obligatory sitdowns with Letterman and Leno, Hoda and Kathie Lee, Kelly and whomever, the inevitable question (after “how does it feel?’’ of course) will be “So what are you going to do next?’’
Michael Phelps is retiring and wants to travel the world, maybe play some golf. Ryan Lochte is going to jump back in the pool and is eyeing Rio in 2016. Ditto 17-year-old Missy Franklin and 15-year-old Katie Ledecky.
As for Tyler Clary, 23, who set an Olympic record in winning the 200-meter backstroke, he’s likely to keep on going, too, But what he really aspires to do after he’s done splashing around is to sit for a while. Behind the wheel.
“I want to take a serious shot at being a professional race car driver after swimming’s over,’’ he said in an interview on SPEED that aired Sunday night. “ It’s funny because when you initially tell people that, you get laughs, complete surprise, but I know that this is something I could be really good at.''
Clary, 23, who hails from Riverside, Calif., said one of his former swim teams ran one of the merchandise booths at Auto Club Speedway. “So I’ve seen plenty of NASCAR races and just something about it, I always wanted to be in the driver’s seat.’’
Last year, in fact, Clary said he was part of the off-road racing team with La Paz Party Mixes, learning a few things about the sport. And by the time the three-time former NCAA champion at Michigan told his new buddies he really had to get back in the pool so he could fully focus on the Games, he was doing everything except stepping into the car.
“I was working with them as kind of a fabricator, welder, mechanic and pit man, and basically doing everything except for driving,’’ he said. “I’m really looking forward to using all that and trying to take a step forward.”
But expect him to keep going backward going forward. At least in the short term. A gold medal will do that to a guy.
“There obviously is more motivation to continue going now,’’ he told SPEED. “Not that there was a lack of motivation before; it’s just that extra kick in the pants because of what happened [in the final last Thursday]. But I still really want to make that endeavor after swimming’s over, and over the next couple of years, I really want to do everything I can to get as much experience in the seat as possible so that once it comes time for me to make a step away from swimming, people really can see that I’m not just talking about it.
“I just really have a passion for auto racing and I really want to drive.”