VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Josh Prenot, University of California Berkeley Physics major and swimmer, recently returned home to Santa Maria for the first time since his silver medal performance in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Josh was recognized by the city of Santa Maria for his achievement in Rio during the men’s 200-meter breaststroke.
“It’s good to be back,” said Josh. “I love this place.”
In addition, Josh stopped by his old swimming grounds at the Santa Maria Swim Club. With tons of new and familiar faces looking on, Josh reflected on his journey to Rio and his experience at the Olympics.
“It was sweet being down there, just being in the Athlete’s Village,” said Josh. “It truly didn’t set in that I got to do it until I got back here. Just walking through the village, to see a guy like [Rafael] Nadal, [Novak] Djokovic, or all the U.S. basketball guys, I was just like, ‘man, I can’t believe I get to be here and do this.’”
Despite being on an international stage, Josh felt no anxiety or concern during the race.
“At the Olympic Games I was just swimming with no nerves,” said Josh. “I just kind of looked up at the stadium behind all the streets and appreciated the moment. I knew what I had to do for my race strategy. With the breaststroke, you’re looking forward as you swim, not to the sides. The only place you can kind of tell where people are is when you’re coming off the walls. So each wall is where you gain information about where the competitors are. It was a super close race the whole time and I was just stoked to get on the podium. Everyone was within .9 seconds of each other, which is unheard of in a 200-meter race.”
Josh’s father, Bill Prenot, retired Lieutenant Colonel and current 30th Space Wing director of plans and programs, recalled the incredible experience.
“Our expectations were exceeded,” said Bill. “The experience was tremendous. The safety and security there was paramount. The Brazilians did a great job executing this Olympic Games. We were thrilled to be there for as short a time as we were. We wish we would’ve taken a longer amount of time and been there to experience more of Rio.”
The build-up to the Olympic Games was rocky, with concerns surrounding the health of the athletes, as well as the conditions of the sporting venue. These qualms were immediately extinguished upon arrival, claims Bill.
“All of the gloom and doom hype that surrounded the lead up wasn’t there at all,” said Bill. “Rio is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. The geography, the geology and the culture were so stunning.”
With Rio in the rear view and his first silver medal in the bag, Josh has big plans for his future, both academically and physically.
“Pro swim life, it’s going to be awesome,” said Josh. “I’m traveling a ton in the next six months just to do competitions, clinics, and everything related to pro swimming. I’ll get back on the Physics grind in January and finish out my Cal education, and then just continue moving forward in the sport to see what I can do. I definitely plan on competing in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games. I will do this sport for as long as I can – I absolutely love it.”