Brandi Chastain talks 'Splash,' staying fit

Brandi Chastain, flanked by host Charissa Thompson and Nicole Eggert, joined the show last week. Kelsey McNeal/Getty Images

Growing up in San Jose, Calif., you'd think that Brandi Chastain would have been really good at swimming.

But that wasn't the case.

Chastain instead focused on soccer and became a two-time Women's World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist.

She made the right move as a kid. Now, at 44, she's getting back in the water, hoping to try something new.

"I had little to zero training. I would play around in a friend's pool, but that's about it," Chastain said. "My brother was quite a good diver with no formal training. He would go up there and do all these tricks. I was always like, 'That's crazy!' I stay pretty much on land."

That was until last week, when she joined the ABC show "Splash," replacing injured reality star Chuy Bravo. Chastain is one of three athletes -- joining basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and skier Rory Bushfield -- on the show. (Detroit Lions player Ndamukong Suh was eliminated last week.) Chastain talked with Playbook about the show and staying fit.

You aren't the greatest swimmer. So why do this show?

"This is the kind of opportunity you get once in a lifetime. Gosh, that looks really scary but wouldn't it be cool to try something and learn something. And it's been really life-altering. Sometimes it comes up good and sometimes not so good. It's really a great challenge."

Have you been up to the high dive yet?

"I first started by looking up and saw how far it was. That's not happening, I said. I hadn't gotten as much training as other celebrities, but I have several weeks under my belt. One thing you realize is how much closer the platform is to the water."

It started out all fun and games. But preview clips show things are getting serious.

"I always thought uh-oh when asked to do this show. There is potential for a lot of things to happen. Diving is not a joke. It's very serious. It takes tremendous strength and awareness. When you watch the divers in the Olympics, they make it look so easy. But it's really difficult. At first it was fun. Then the challenges are getting exponentially greater and greater. You really have to push yourself. You have to make sure your ability matches your courage."

Have your competitives juices taken over yet?

"I like to think I'm intelligent enough to show competitiveness and my desire to win within my limits. You have to have a lot of attention to detail, no matter what sport you're in. You need to build a foundation and go up. You don't go from the platform down. You go from the water up."

TMZ ran a photo of you a few weeks ago and you were rockin' a two-piece. At 44, you're still in great shape. Tell us your secret.

"Well, I'm riding my bike while talking to you. I'm a multitasker. I have a young son who is 6 years old, and I always enjoyed being active. So when my son started school last year, I didn't know any of the other parents. I figured that we're dropping our kids off together, and I'll see these people probably for the next nine years. So I put all these workout equipment in my Land Rover and I asked the other parents whether they want to work out after dropping off their kids. We have upwards of 15 women and one man. Every day we run through all these exercises, and we're getting to know each other. Now it's almost two years later and we're still working out. It can be social. It can be life-affirming. All you need to do is make it happen."

Talking with fellow soccer great and reality star Mia Hamm, she feels the same way about exercise and helping others. How did you guys get so much drive?

That 1999 World Cup team was a really unique group of people. It's not unlike a lot of people today with jobs and kids and family. We always enjoyed challenging each other and see what we can do and what we can't do. They are always there for me. They inspire me to do things that maybe I thought I wasn't capable of doing and maybe I can do it."

Winning in the World Cup in 1999, you ripped off your jersey. What's your plan if you win "Splash": Put on a jersey?

"Maybe. It gets cold coming out of the pool. There isn't much room for celebration with those diving outfits. I don't know what I'll do. It's hard to know. That was a spontaneous celebration then. I wasn't planning on anything. Something, I'm sure, will come up organically."