News & Media


Six Pack: Talking Olympics and more with Donahue

September 18, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue grew up around NASCAR in her hometown of Lenior City, Tenn. (Getty Images)

U.S. swimmer captured gold medal as part of 4x100 medley relay team in London

Claire Donahue, who grew up around NASCAR in Lenoir City, Tenn., and went on to recently claim an Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. swim team, answers this week's six questions.

1. So how long did you get to take off after winning your gold medal?

Donahue: Well, my last race was the (4x100 medley relay), so my break started when that race was over. But I've got some meets in December so I actually went back into training at the end of (last) week. Usually there is a meet every six months, but for me, I guess the next big goal is the next Olympics.

"I'm all about speed in swimming -- and here they're obviously faster, but it's still all about that speed and who's fastest. I love that."

--CLAIRE DONAHUE

2. So you had no hesitation at all in declaring that you want to compete in the next Summer Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016?

Donahue: Well, four months ago, it was a hard decision. Four years is a long time for me to train. ... But after thinking about it a lot, I already have decided to make that leap and commit to it.

3. What's the coolest thing about competing in the Olympics, outside of having that gold medal?

Donahue: There are so many things. I loved the racing, most of all -- just being in the venues and competing. But outside of that, just being there and being around so many great athletes. When you get there, you see the vastness of it. You're not just with USA Swimming and you're not just with the USA. You're with all the best athletes from all over the world. For me, to wrap my head around that, it took a while.

And outside of all that, London was awesome. I mean, I loved London. I can't wait to go back and explore it more.

4. How about getting to wear that gold medal?

Donahue: It's heavier than you think. That's a little bit surprising when they first put it around your neck -- but you get used to it in a hurry.

Making the Olympics was always my goal since I was a little girl. So when I achieved that, it was amazing. It felt like that was the best I could ever do and the furthest I could ever go. But when I got the gold medal, it was kind of just this 'awe' moment. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I've done the ultimate!' Getting to earn it with the group of girls I did only made it more special.

Hopefully I can do it again. But yes, when they first put it around your neck, you don't expect it to feel like that. It's pretty heavy and it takes you by surprise a little bit. But trust me, you don't mind much.

5. Do you know much about NASCAR?

Donahue: A little bit. It's pretty big around here where I grew up. And last year, I got to go to my first race in Nashville with my mom and my dad. That was pretty awesome, and we loved it. Just the atmosphere, and we love the loudness of it and the speed of it. I'm all about speed in swimming -- and here they're obviously faster, but it's still all about that speed and who's fastest. I love that.

6. We understand that you got a tattoo of the Olympic rings above your left ankle recently. Was Mom okay with that?

Donahue: Actually, yes. So much so that my entire family -- there are six of us -- but they all decided to get one Olympic ring tattoo. They split up the colors -- and so my Mom got a tattoo of the yellow ring even before I got my tattoo. That's when I knew it would be okay for me to get mine.