ATLANTA — Andrew Wilson made history in Tokyo.
He didn't stop there. Wilson came home with a gold medal.
"I don't know if it is ever going to sink in honestly," Wilson said.
Wilson's momentum from the summer games is not slowing down. The gold medalist is now inspiring a new wave of swimmers to train in Atlanta with Emory's team.
The school's head swimming and diving coach, Jon Howell, said Emory is seeing an influx of recruiting interest since Wilson's gold medal achievement.
Howell, Wilson's former coach, said Wilson's accomplishment is changing the perception of what is possible for swimmers at D-3 schools.
"Our hope is really to create something that is really uniquely us and to really push the envelope on what's possible in terms of balancing a high level of swimming with a high level of academics," he said.
As for Wilson, he said he is grateful for his alma mater.
"I'm glad I could give Emory some visibility on that level," Wilson said. "It's a great place, and obviously, the swim team did a lot for me. I'm sure that it can do a lot for people in the future."
The pool just went through some changes, too. From new bulkheads to a fresh coat of paint, the training area looks different than the last time Wilson trained there.
Now, Wilson is changing, too.
11Alive caught up with him via Zoom from England.
"There have definitely been times especially in the fall where it was tough and I was really missing swimming," he said. "Being busy made it so I didn't have time to kind of miss it or dwell on the past. So, yeah, I mean, I think that that's made it so much easier."
His former coach said it is good for Wilson to take one challenge and replace it with another.
As Wilson moves on to his next chapter, he said he isn't leaving his time in the pool behind. His gold medal will always serve as a reminder.
"I don't necessarily view the medal as much as like one specific race or moment or anything," he said. "It's more a reflection on kind of like my entire swim career."
Coach Howell said of all the swimmers he has coached over the years, Wilson's story stands out.
"The most satisfying swimmers are the ones who set a goal and really work hard," he said. "No matter what that success or failure along the way, they persevere and they really reach that goal, and then have a breakthrough at the end and he's a great example of that."