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10 Things We Learned About Team USA At The 2016 Media Summit

By Lisa Costantini | March 10, 2016, 8:05 p.m. (ET)

LOS ANGELES -- You might know everything there is to know about Olympic and Paralympic sports, but do you know everything about the athletes who play them? Here are 10 things we learned at this week’s Team USA Media Summit in Los Angeles.

1. Conor Dwyer went to school with Michael Jordan’s kids

“I had sleepovers at the Jordans’ house all the time,” the Olympic champion swimmer said. “Marcus and Jeffrey (Michael Jordan’s sons) are good friends of mine. Michael would watch us play hoops. He would take us to Bulls games, to Cubs games.”

2. Ashton Eaton made his now-wife pick him up for their first date

"I was a sophomore in college, she was a freshman,” the Olympic decathlon champion said, to set the scene. “We had been showing interest for months. I think she was just waiting for me to ask. So on Valentine’s Day I finally said, ‘I’ll take you on a date.’ So I got a mixed tape CD — when CDs were still used — and put some songs on it, and wrote the titles in Sharpie. I got one rose and said, ‘OK, can you pick me up?’ Because she had the car — I didn’t. We went to Olive Garden. College budget.”

3. Missy Franklin’s mom is afraid of the water

“My mom was terrified of the water,” the five-time Olympic swimming medalist said. “She grew up in Nova Scotia and no one’s going to hop in the water in Nova Scotia – it’s frigid. So she really never got comfortable with it, and she’s still not really comfortable with it. She didn’t want me to feel like that, so she signed me up for a mommy and me class when I was 6 months old, and after that they just couldn’t get me out of the water.”

4. Trevon Jenifer was an extra in a movie

“When I played professional in France for two years, I was an extra in a movie they were filming,” the Paralympic wheelchair basketball bronze medalist said. “It was about a vet who was making the transition from an able-bodied to a person with a disability.”

5. Elizabeth Beisel gets ready for a race by talking

“There are two kinds of people in the ready room: people with their hoods on listening to their music not speaking to anybody and then you have people like me,” the two-time Olympic swimming medalist said. “And I’m like, so what’d you have for lunch? And they’re like, oh my God, can this girl not be doing this — we’re about to swim the Olympics in like three minutes. But that’s just what works for me. I need to keep my mind off the race and I do that by annoying everybody else.”

6. Lauren Crandall took some time off to work in a bakery

“I took some time off to take a position in Biloxi, Mississippi as baker number three or something,” the two-time Olympic field hockey player said. “It was just something so wild and out there, and a totally different experience. No connection in field hockey got me that job. It was cool because I love baking.”

7. Jamie Whitmore loves paintball

"I love paintball. I love shooting people," the seven-time Para-cycling world champion said. "Everyone takes everything so seriously that it's just fun to go out and shoot somebody with paintballs. And you're all covered in paint and somebody wins at the end of the day. It's awesome. You get out a lot of aggression. If I wasn't a cyclist, I would be a professional paintballer."

8. Seth Jahn has (very) varied taste in music

“I’m a Florida boy so I do like country, but I also like classical music: Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff,” the Paralympic soccer hopeful said. “When I was living in Europe for three years I would go to every concerto or symphony I could. I loved it. It’s awesome being in some of those halls and thinking about composers actually composing hundreds of years ago.”

9. Dawn Harper-Nelson worked three jobs at once

“One of my jobs was as an academic coordinator at UCLA,” the two-time Olympic hurdles medalist said. “That was so stressful because you have these young adults’ careers almost in your hands. They were like, ‘What classes should I be taking?’ ‘When should I take it?’ I was like ‘Listen, I’m trying to go to the Olympics. I can’t help you with your schedule.’ [Laughing]”

10. Madison Kocian is the chef of her family

“I like going on Pinterest and finding different recipes and cooking things for my family,” the Olympic gymnastics hopeful said. “Usually it’s all healthy foods because that’s kind of our training schedule and my lifestyle. I like to try different things. One of my favorites is this chicken stir fry because it has a lot of vegetables in it and some teriyaki. My dad and brother really like it, too.”

Related Athletes

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Conor Dwyer

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Ashton Eaton

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Missy Franklin

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Trevon Jenifer

Wheelchair Basketball
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Elizabeth Beisel

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Lauren Crandall

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Jamie Whitmore

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Seth Jahn

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Dawn Harper-Nelson

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Madison Kocian