It took years of training for Winnetka swimmer Conor Dwyer to earn his Olympic ticket, and this week he returned home with the ultimate prize: a gold medal.
"It was a dream come true," Dwyer told NBC Chicago. "I worked ... a long time, four years, with not many days off and just to be up there with three great friends and good guys is something I'll never forget."
Dwyer won his first gold medal July 31 in the 4x200 freestyle relay and became part of history as teammate Michael Phelps won his 19th medal to become the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Looking back on the event, Dwyer said his teammates gave him simple, straight-forward advice before the race to keep his eyes on the gold and take comfort in the U.S. Swim Team's long success in the event.
"They just said it's like any other race, so go out there and swim for your country and bring home a gold medal," he said.
Two weeks later, he arrived in Chicago to a hero's welcome at O'Hare International Airport and, finally, two or three weeks of rest.
He won't rest for long, though. Training resumes for more big-time meets, including the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he hopes to swim in even more events.
For those hoping to stand in his place, Dwyer gave a few words of advice.
"Just to set a goal and if you put in hard work, it can come true," he said. "It may take six hours a day, but it can come true."