March 23, 2005
Q: What were your goals when you arrived at Notre Dame?
A: I wanted to make NCAAs. I thought I could make it in the 100 fly last year, but I didn’t. I stayed at my best time right out of high school. In terms of time goals, thought I could break 48.00 in the 100 fly. I also wanted to win the BIG EAST as a team goal.
Q: How did you feel about your freshman season?
A: It was pretty disappointing in certain events, but I can point to where we could improve, with a training perspective and tapering perspective. That helped out in the offseason, and it also helped out with that last-chance meet [Boiler-Make-It Invitational], as we continued the taper and I kept going pretty fast during the taper. That helped [head coach] Tim [Welsh] out a lot to see how long you can hold the taper and how much better you can get. It wasn’t all a loss; it was a solid season because we got second in the BIG EAST. I didn’t accomplish my goals, which leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Yet, it was a decent season.
Q: What was the thought process behind resting and shaving for this season’s Notre Dame Invitational?
A: At the beginning of this season I knew I was going to shave for NDI. Last offseason I knew I was going to shave because I wanted another shot of getting a fast time. I think it is a good thing to rest more than just twice in the year. To get three rests to build up to a hard taper, then rest and recover so you can build muscle and develop to get better. It would also give the coaches a chance to try out what we learned during that taper for the last-chance meet, which proved to be valuable. That was my reasoning.
Q: Describe your performance in the Notre Dame Invitational, swim by swim.
A: In the first morning, I swam the 200 IM, and it ended up being our team and not too many other people. It was us swimming ourselves, and I knew I could get into the finals if I just won my heat so I did a decently fast time. I didn’t try very hard on butterfly or backstroke, but I ended up going fast in the splits, which was a great confidence booster, because I knew I could go faster but didn’t have to. In the morning I just shut it down and cruised to the end. We had six people back [in the A final], and that’s so exciting to have that many people from our team, knowing exactly how everyone swims and where they’re going to be at all the points in the race. There is definitely some inter-team rivalry. It’s fun and made the evening exciting.
At night, we did the 200 free relay first, and I had a good split, pretty much the same as I did last year. During the 200 IM, I felt good even though I didn’t think I trained as much breaststroke as I should have. But I did pretty well in my splits, and I did my best time by a tenth of a second. I wasn’t expecting to have gone faster than my best time, since it’s not as big as a BIG EAST meet [where I swam my best time]. Then in the 400 medley relay, I went about 47.5 [in the butterfly] or so. It was decent, and I was feeling the air starting to get bad. I knew I could go faster in the morning in the 100 fly.
The next morning I wasn’t expecting much out of that race, and I knew I was going pretty fast. [Assistant coach Matt] Tallman asked me if I wanted to cruise the race and try to get into the finals and try to go faster there, just because of the number of relays that I had. But I thought I’d try hard in the morning because the number of relays I had meant I’d be more tired at night. I took the fly out pretty fast and didn’t know how fast I was going until I looked at the clock on the third 25 and saw it was around 20.00. That’s pretty quick, and I was impressed and thought I’d have a chance to break 48.00. When I got 47.6, I was surprised and happy for myself.
At night, the 200 medley relay was probably my worst swim of the meet. I thought I could break 21.00 and I didn’t. In the 100 fly at night, I was pretty tired from whole day and went 48.1, which was still fast.
On the third day, the air was bad in the morning, which was similar to the BIG EAST last year. The air progressively gets worse and by the second night I could really feel it. The next morning my lungs still hadn’t recovered.
Q: Can you describe what happens when your asthmatic condition makes it difficult to breathe?
A: Because there are so many people in the pool, the chlorine reacts with the sweat from the swimmers. Chlorine reacts with urea and creates a nasty layer about six inches above the water. So if you don’t purify the air and push the air out, it will grind on your lungs and can get so bad that it’s like chemical burns in your lungs. My asthma doctor in high school told me it was due to these chemical burns and is ripe for infection. I had bad asthma attacks and sometimes get infections, coughing up a lot and bronchitis. I am more prone to it because of my asthma, even though I take a lot of medicine, and I’m the first to feel the effects from the bad air. They did a good job this year as compared to last year, opening the doors and getting lots of ventilation. But it still got bad the second night and third morning. In the BIG EAST last year, I was able to recover on the third night, but it was really bad on the second day. Right after you swim, the warm-down pool is awful, because the air is really bad. You want to get all of the lactic acid out of your body, but can’t do it, because you’re coughing up a lung. There’s a little bit of getting used to the air, but also I decided to not go really hard that third morning, so I wasn’t beating them [my lungs] up enough. So they could still recover throughout the day from that second night.
On the third night, it went really well at NDI. It was a lot better in the morning, just like at the BIG EAST. I didn’t think I could go as fast as I did in the 200 fly [last year] either, because I’d been training a lot more for the 100. I thought I could go 1:48.00, but not 1:47, and I was surprised when I touched the wall. Pablo Marmolejo from West Virginia really pushed me to that time. So overall, it was a really great meet.
Q: What are your goals?
A: I want to score at NCAAs, because that would get Notre Dame an established spot [among the nation’s elite]. That’s a huge goal for me to help out the school. When I was in high school, I’d look at NCAA results, and there were all these teams listed. But there are more teams that showed up at the meets and had someone there but didn’t score. To get into the top 25 [which is a goal] at the meet, there needs to be more than one person to get there and score. So we are going to need to get more people there and score to get in the top 25 at NCAAs. I’m sure that’s what [assistant coach] Matt [Tallman] and Tim ultimately want to happen, as well as going up in the national rankings. To do that, I probably have to go a little faster to get in the top 16. If I drop time again, which I think I can do, I can definitely score [top-16 finish].