U.S. swimmer Brendan Hansen is no stranger to the medals podium, but for this four-time Olympic medalist, the path to success outweighs the rewards.
"At the end of the day, it's not about medals or podiums or anything like that. It's really exciting, just the journey in general," Hansen, who swims 12,000 meters per day, six days per week, according to his USA Swimming bio, said.
That doesn't mean Hansen, who takes the most pride in reaching a third straight Olympics, will not be giving it his all to add another piece of hardware to his already overflowing trophy case. The Havertown, Pa., native will take the starting blocks in London with the hope of acquiring his first-ever Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, while aiming to add his third Olympic gold in the U.S. dominated 4x100-meter medley relay.
After taking silver in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2004 Games in Athens and settling for a disappointing fourth place at the 2008 Olympic in Beijing, the former world record holder in both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke retired from swimming.
But Hansen, who turns 31 immediately following the completion of the London Games, dove back into competition in 2011 with his sights set on finally taking Olympic gold from his signature event, the 100-meter breaststroke. The former University of Texas star claimed gold in the event at the 2005 and 2007 World Championships.
"I think my favorite thing is setting a goal and going after and trying to achieve it," Hansen said.
"To me, that's one of the greatest things you can do as a human being."
Hansen will face stiff competition in London as he prepares to go after his latest goal, including 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter, Kosuke Kitajima of Japan. He also will square off against the event's reigning world record holder, Brenton Rickard of Australia.
If Hansen is unable to reach the podium in the 100-meter breaststroke, he still has a shot of helping extend the United States' remarkable streak in the 4x100-meter medley relay, in which Team USA has claimed gold 12 out of 13 times since the event was added to the Olympic swimming program in 1960.