Amanda Everlove (right) and Anna Johannes (left) celebrate a gold medal in Women's 100m Butterfly S9 during the 2011 Parapan American Games on Nov. 13, 2011 in Guadalajara, Mexico.
It’s been a long road from world class swimmer to heartland pharmacist for Paralympic medalist Amanda Everlove.
Twelve years after breaking a world record and winning three silver medals at the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008, Everlove has settled in Columbus, Ohio. She bought a house with her new husband, Bob, and splits her time as a pharmacist between Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and a Walmart pharmacy in nearby small town Washington Court House.
“As difficult as this year has been, it’s had a lot of highs for me,” she said. “I feel like I’ve hit a lot of my goals.”
It has been eight years since Everlove officially retired from international competition, her last Paralympic meet coming at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. She finished out that season swimming for her collegiate team at Ohio Northern University, but was ready to “hang it up” after her final meet.
“That year was kind of a struggle. I had reached a point where I just didn’t enjoy it anymore,” she said. “After London, honestly, I was counting down the days until I was done. I was committed to finishing that last season, but basically didn’t enjoy it anymore and wanted time away to focus on school and just to enjoy life away from the pool.”
The competitive life she had lived for the better part of 20-plus years had taken a toll on her personally, both physically and emotionally. She was ready to focus on school, and simply to live the kind of “normal” life that many take for granted.
“I had reached a point where I just had to shut down the competitive side of me, because it was making me unhappy,” she said. “I don’t miss the competition.”
Far from being bitter, Everlove looks back quite fondly on her experiences as an international athlete and still enjoys the occasional trip down memory lane to reflect on her experiences with Team USA. She still loves reminiscing with friends, as well as pulling out her medals for speaking engagements and visits to schools.
“I feel lucky that I was able to retire on my own terms, where a lot of people are forced out due to injuries or other circumstances,” she said. “While I don’t miss the competition, I do miss the experiences and the camaraderie with teammates and coaches.”
Everlove remains in contact with some of her teammates and touches base with others that became friends during her years in the pool. Facebook memories pop up from time to time to remind Everlove of her past achievements. A recent one brought to mind the time she tied for gold in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in a curious American medal sweep in the event that year.
“We tied for the gold and another American took third, so they had to figure out a way to raise two American flags on the top bar for the medal ceremony, nothing on the second bar, and another American flag on the third one,” she laughed. “I kind of threw a wrench in their plans by tying for first, but it was a good wrench.”
Many of Everlove’s fondest competitive memories come from the high point of her Paralympic career, the 2008 Beijing Games. She excelled at that meet, winning silver medals in the 200-meter individual medley, the 50-meter freestyle and the 100 butterfly. She set a world record in the latter, setting the mark during the preliminary round before finishing second in the finals to teammate Jessica Long, who would eventually break Everlove’s record three years later.
“It was interesting coming home and telling people that I broke a world record, but also finished second,” she said.
Her third silver medal from Beijing, the 50 freestyle, was also the most unexpected — to her, as well as everyone else in attendance both in person and around the world.
“I finished second from Lane 1 after barely squeaking into the finals as the seventh swimmer out of eight,” she said. “You can’t even see me on the recording, I’m cut off on the bottom of the screen. Nobody expected me to finish with a medal. My parents didn’t even bring their camera, so they don’t even have a record of it.”
The three medals she brought home from Beijing serve as the most enduring reminder of Everlove’s Paralympic glory. However, she has not yet had a chance to fully display them, having moved from place to place during her post-swimming years as a student. Now, having found a permanent home in Columbus, she is looking at ways to properly display her achievements.
“Until about a year ago, the medals — which come in a box inside another padded box that is very pretty — were being stored in my parent’s closet,” she said. “When I finally settled in Ohio, my parents sent me the medals, saying, ‘You’re an adult now, you can be in charge of your own medals.’”
After the bulk of 22 years spent as a competitive swimmer, as well as nine as an undergraduate/post-graduate student, Everlove is now settling into her everyday role as wife, homeowner and pharmacist. While she jokes that, “It’s a little hard when you feel like you peaked at age 18,” at least competitively, she now relishes her new roles as her future looks every bit as splendid as her past.
“This year, as difficult as it has been in a lot of ways with COVID-19, has had a lot of highs for me,” she said. “I love my husband, I love my house, and I love what I do for a living. I feel like I’ve hit a lot of my goals, and now I’m just settling in and looking forward to what’s to come.”