July 9, 2012
Michigan at the Olympics
What does it mean to you to be the lone current U-M swimmer heading to London?
I'm just happy to keep the tradition of U-M Olympic swimmers alive. The way everyone was training this summer, it could have been any number of guys to make the squad, but I was fortunate to be the one that made it. I'm also ecstatic to be on a team with all of the former U-M swimmers, with guys like Peter Vanderkaay, Charlie Houchin, Davis Tarwater and Tyler Clary.
There were five U-M milers in the top nine in the mile at the 2012 United Olympic Trials, what does it mean to you to represent that group on the largest stage in sport?
Training this summer with guys like Sean Ryan, Ryan Feeley, and Matt Patton, three guys that were in contention for those spots, we knew all summer that if two of us made the team how great that would be for all of us, but we knew a couple of us who worked really hard for the spot would be left out. Either way, training here all summer together we knew we were going to be happy whether a Michigan swimmer got on the team or not.
Have any of the past swimmers from U-M on the U.S. Team reached out to you and taken you under their wing?
Definitely. Meeting all of the guys on the team, especially the veterans like a Peter Vanderkaay is neat, but you kind of feel like you're the new kid at school, and you don't really know who to hang out with. Having the four Michigan guys definitely makes me feel more at home, and so far it's been great.
All three of your current coaches -- Mike Bottom, Josh White and Mark Hill -- will be in London guiding other swimmers, and even past coaches Jon Urbanchek and Bob Bowman. Do you think that will benefit you?
That will definitely help. Being there and having all of my coaches there with the amount of support that they give from getting warm-ups and advice from Mike and Josh and their ability to keep me calm will make a world of a difference.
You've only swam 1,500 meters a handful of times. Does that help you? Hurt you?
Everyone is always surprised that I've only swam the race five times, and that I am already this fast, but the way that we train, I feel like there is no reason I shouldn't be going so fast when I already have such great training partners. Guys like Sean and Ryan have been swimming the race their whole life, and just push me to that next level. I felt prepared going into my first 1,500-free race because I'm training with teammates that give me confidence in my abilities, so I don't think it hurts me at all.
Chad La Tourette of Stanford beat you in the 1,650-yard freestyle at NCAAs, and was a major competitor in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the trials. Was there any added motivation for you coming into the race after suffering the defeat?
It was definitely in the back of my mind, but he came out so strong in the beginning of the race that in my mind I definitely saw a repeat of NCAAs, where he had a great race and set the American record. I wasn't prepared to chase him down in the beginning, but then I saw Andrew Gemmell, who started to catch him, and the thought of passing him started to become more of a possibility as the race went one.
What's been the outpouring like, coming in from the being a freshman only a year ago to now being an Olympian?
The support that I've received from the coaches here at U-M has never changed along the way, and I think that is a great thing because they don't play favorites with anybody on our team. When I wasn't having a successful year, they didn't pay any less attention to me, and they're always really supportive by making sure they are getting us the right workouts and they want every single swimmer on the team to be the best they can be. Whether you score points at Big Tens or make the Olympics it doesn't matter to them, because it is all about getting better. I've also had a ridiculous amount of support from my town back home and all my relatives back in New Jersey. Everything has been really great with that and just really feeling some love from back home.
What are you most looking forward to about Olympic Experience?
I'm really looking forward to the training trip. I'm excited to be training with the best of the United States. I think we already have the best of the United States training here at Michigan, but it'll be a different group of people, a different group of the best and I'm excited just to see what that's like. Also, the traveling we get to do I am excited for. We'll go to Tennessee, and then we'll stop in France and then to London, that's going to be really cool. Then, being a part of the show that is the Olympics, being a part of the opening ceremonies potentially or seeing the closing ceremonies and things like that and seeing not only myself racing, but going to the other races that the United States guys are swimming in.All the great athletes of the world are going to be there, whether it's swimming or gymnastics or anything else; all the sports.
Has making the Olympic Team hit you yet?
I don't think so, not fully. There are moments when I think about things like the opening ceremonies or the closing ceremonies and it's like wow, I'm going to be there, it's the Olympics.The next time I'll go home I'll have participated in the Olympics already and crazy thoughts like that. It's going to take time and I'll definitely enjoy it once I'm over in London and it will be obvious what I'm being a part of.
Have you given any thought to other Olympians you may want to meet in London?
No, I haven't really thought about that yet.I am excited to be around the veterans of the Olympic swim team, that's going to be really cool.Not only the swimmers, but the coaches too like Jon Urbancheck, who was a Michigan coach, has been on multiple Olympic teams, and I'm going to be training with him and that's going to be really cool.