LONDON - On a team full of previous gold medalists, Olympic rookie Shannon Vreeland was probably the least-known member of the gold medal-winning USA women’s 4x200m relay swimming team.
That’s beginning to change though, as the Overland Park native was the first guest to appear Thursday on NBC’s “Today Show.”
In an interview from London with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie (Watch: on.today.com/PBPRB4 ) , Vreeland said she was a bit nervous heading into her, the third leg, in Wednesday’s final.
“I was thinking I can’t mess this up,” the 20-year-old Blue Valley West graduate said through smiles. “If I leave Allison (Schmitt) in a bad place, I’ll feel really bad.”
The interview, which led the first hour of the program, wasn’t her only appearance on the show. She returned with British chef Jamie Oliver, who prepared Eton mess, a classic English dessert (Watch: http://on.today.com/Qj22Hi ).
The “Today” appearances weren’t the first interview she had done since helping her team win the gold medal on Wednesday.
In a Skype interview Wednesday night with 41 Action News, she said the media rounds began immediately after the medal ceremony, where she joined teammates Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt atop the gold medal pedestal.
"It was really cool,” Vreeland said of getting her medal with her teammates, recalling watching ceremonies in previous Olympics. “I would just watch some Olympians get their medals and if they were crying on the stands, I would be crying at home.”
It was an emotional day for Vreeland, but she says she didn’t cry. “I think I was like smiling too big the whole time.”
She says the medal ceremony has always been the most special part of the Olympics to her. “Getting to actually experience it myself was more than a dream come true. I don't even know how to describe it.”
So what’s next for Vreeland, who will begin her junior year at the University of Georgia this fall?
The 4x200 is her only Olympic event, but she plans to stick around for the remainder of the Olympics.
“I'm going to swim for a couple of days,” Vreeland told 41 Action News. “Maybe do some cardio to stay in shape. As soon as swimming is over, we're going to stay here until closing ceremonies and then just try to make it to as many sporting events as we can.”
She says she looks forward to seeing more of London and being able to cheer on Team USA in other sports.
You can watch Shannon's entire interview with 41 Action News in the video player above.
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