May 18, 2012
Michigan men's swimming head coach Mike Bottom will accompany a large contingent of former and current Wolverines to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, scheduled for June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb. A veteran coach of international swimming, Bottom has coached at each of the last four Olympic Games, and from the 1996-2004 Olympiads, he guided his athletes to nine of the 18 medals awarded in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events. In the 2012 London Games, Bottom will serve as the head coach of the Serbian Olympic team.
Since the end of the NCAA season, what have you been up to?
There's been no break for me or our team since the end of the season. We traveled 13 hours via plane and bus from NCAAs, and when we got back, the guys got off the bus, threw their stuff down and swam out the trip. The next day, they were back to training due to the quick turnaround between the NCAA season and the Olympic Trials at the end of June. The team went to the Olympic Training Center right after final exams, where we ate great, had a full 50-meter pool and a full weight room to train in for about a week. We then headed to Charlotte, N.C., for the Charlotte Grand Prix and swam in full force with our guys battling against some of the best swimmers in the entire world.
What are some of the events at the Olympic Trials in which Michigan fans should keep an eye out for current and former Wolverine swimmers?
In terms of our current swimmers, we have Sean Ryan, Connor Jaeger and Ryan Feeley in the mile. Sean swam one of the best times in the mile in the world last year, while Connor continues his amazing improvement this season. We have a contingent of guys that went to school here, go to school here and train here that are excellent in the 200-meter butterfly, beginning of Michael Phelps, who trained here, as well as former Wolverine Davis Tarwater, who is really swimming well right now. If you look at guys here now, like Dan Madwed and Kyle Whitaker, both of them are great in the event and swam well at Charlotte. Each of them has a good shot at making the final in that event at the Olympic Trials. We also have Chinese swimmer, Wu Peng, who trains here, who beat Michael Phelps at the Charlotte Grand Prix and took fourth in the event at the 2008 Olympics.
How many Michigan men and women will be competing at Olympic Trials?
We will have over 30 current and former Michigan male and female swimmers competing at the trials. Not all of the swimmers there are necessarily competing for a spot on the Olympic team, as there are only two people that go from a field of 60-100 swimmers in each event. However, if swimmers can get to an 'A' or 'B' final and get a second swim, that's a huge deal for the swimmer individually as well as his or her coaching staff. If any of our returning male or female swimmers can make one of the finals, that would really do wonders for their self esteem heading into next year.
What nation will you be coaching at the 2012 Olympics?
I'll be traveling to the Olympics with Serbia and will be their head coach. I will coach a young swimmer named Milorad 'Mike' Cavic, who had a great battle in the 100-meter butterfly in the 2008 Olympics with Michael Phelps and took silver after narrowly losing out to Phelps. It's very difficult to wait around to see who is selected for the United States team, and if you are thinking of coaching for another country, you had to make your intentions known about a month ago. So, I decided to solidify my spot with Serbia.
How will your previous coaching experience in the Olympics help you this time around?
The pressure isn't as high on me as it has been in the past with this being my fifth Olympics. There has always been a lot of pressure to put my guys on the medal stand, but being at Michigan this year, it has allowed me a bit of space knowing that my job is to get these guys to the Olympic Trials, because just swimming at the trials is a big deal. Our whole staff will be at the Olympics. Our assistant, Dr. Josh White, will be there with Barbados while our other assistant, Mark Hill, will be there with the Irish team.