Fun on the White House lawn

A couple weeks ago, the Olympic Team was able to travel to the White House.  Aside from enjoying the company of one another, we were able to shake hands with the President, VP, and First Lady.  It was a tremendous honor.  What do you think Schmitty, did we have fun?

Allison Schmitt, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, cheesin’ big before shaking the President’s hand.

 

 

Interview with Beyond the Ultimate

Here is an interview I did for Beyond the Ultimate (www.beyondtheultimate.org) in the Olympic Village one afternoon.  We didn’t let a little rain get in the way of a good time–thanks to Tim, Nate and everyone else at the Olympics representing Athletes in Action!

Having perspective during the high’s and low’s in life and my swimming career have always helped my focus.  Here’s where I gain my perspective.

Thank you

Charlie Houchin & Sean Hutchison at Petco Park in San Diego

I have had the privilege to work with many great coaches throughout my career. The following three are most responsible for my development as an athlete.

Ron Turner was my coach at the YMCA of the Triangle and served as the catalyst for my Olympic pursuit. His knowledge and ability to execute in developing talent in our sport is extraordinary. I was so grateful Ron was able to be in the stands for the finals of my 200 Free at Olympic Trials.

I began training with Sergio Lopez at The Bolles School eight months ago. He has successfully guided his high school athletes to unbelievable performances while simultaneously guiding our professional training squad of just over a half-dozen athletes. This season, Sergio guided 4 athletes to Olympic births–two of them American. Throughout my career, I have witnessed how difficult it can be for a coach to direct both developmental groups as well as a professional squad. Sergio does it all.

I was able to learn from and swim for Sean Hutchison for a year after my collegiate career. His approach to teaching is unparalleled. I utilize what I learned from him everyday in practice. I was lucky to swim for him for that short time. You can get a glimpse of his teaching style by checking out his company, IKKOS.

Thank you Ron, Sergio, and Sean.

 

Another great opportunity!

If you’re like me, then you know how much fun it is to capitalize on the opportunities presented to you! Although my 400 Freestyle at Olympic Trials did not go as I had hoped, I was lucky to have an equally great opportunity in the 200 Freestyle–fortunately, I capitalized on that swim!

I will be representing the United States in the 4×200 Free Relay at the London Olympics. Team USA has an exciting journey ahead of it as we travel to Knoxville for domestic camp, and then on to France before arriving in the Olympic Village.  Hope to include some great pictures of the experience in the coming weeks!

Brazil

I had the privledge of representing Brazilian club Fiat Minas at last week’s Maria Lenk Trophy Meet in Rio de Janeiro.  I competed with my fellow [iX3]sports and Jacksonville, FL based teammates Diogo Yabe and Fabiola Molina.

The five days of racing served as terrific preparation for the US Olympic Trials–now less than two months away!  The highlight of the meet was watching Fabiola qualify for her 3rd Olympic Team, winning the women’s 100m backstroke.  Enjoy the pictures from the week!  Thanks again to Fiat Minas for the opportunity to compete at such a great event!

 

Passion & Purpose

Recently, I spent the afternoon working on a project that was completely unrelated to my life as a professional swimmer.  At the conclusion of the day, I came home, satisfied with how the work had gone.  As I rehashed the days’ events in my mind, I was overwhelmed with how passionately I had tackled this new project.  If my older brother was the catalyst for the beginning of my swimming career, I had no parallel to draw to this new endeavor.  Seemingly, no mentor or external seed had been planted to help push me into striking out in this new undertaking.  I really could not pin point any reason for feeling so passionate towards a brand new pursuit.  Yet the satisfaction I felt from the new work, although in its infancy, was the same sense of accomplishment I feel at the end of a great race or great workout.

Surprised that the new project had conjured up a passionate sense of drive I usually get from competing as an athlete, I asked myself a deeper question.

If I can enjoy the same passionate drive in two forms of work that are totally unrelated, where does the root of this passion come from?

And, moreover,

What is the purpose of my swimming if I can find the same passion in different areas of my life?

Though I know the answers to the stated questions, it was the first time I had thought about my gift from God in this particular way.  I have always been thankful for the way He has blessed me with my swimming ability.  My passion as a swimmer comes from placing my purpose in Him.  No doubt that if my trust is in Him, and he provides me with the gift of swimming, then the purpose of my gift is to deflect any glory derived from swimming straight to Him!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.   Colossians 3:23-24

Acknowledging that He is the root of my swimming passion poses two seemingly incongruent thoughts.  On one hand, I am totally aware of the insignificance of this temporary pursuit of swimming.  Whether or not I win a medal or break a record is utterly unimportant.  This should be a somewhat deflating discovery, right?  However, I place my purpose in Him—and not in the swimming itself, receiving from Him a passion for the sport I could not otherwise enjoy.  Acknowledging the relative insignificance of swimming is really a burden lifted off me, allowing me to appreciate my swimming gift to the fullest.  With this understanding I am able to achieve at my highest personal level!  Because the sport itself is not the root of my purpose, I am not subject to the roller coaster of emotions that tend to come with an obsession over one’s personal career advances.  I cannot hang my hat on nor allow myself to be defined by that which was merely a gift in the first place.  A gift can be taken back.  I could lose swimming tomorrow.  How many more days do I get to enjoy my life as a professional athlete?  Who knows!  Indeed, it is because of this acknowledgement of uncertainty that I am able to approach my work as a swimmer with a renewed since of passion daily—and attack it with a reckless abandon!  The passion is visible between the lane lines because the purpose resides in something greater and unseen.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.   2 Corinthians 4:18

Kicking 101

The year before I arrived at the University of Michigan, Coach Bowman had the guys do a 400 kick (LC) for time.  We had some very talented kickers, and when I got to school, it was a thrill to challenge my Michigan and Club Wolverine teammates in kick sets.  Yesterday, I finally got around to doing a 400 kick of my own.  My time was 4:56

This is a great challenge–swimmers of all ages can try this one out!  According to Coach Bowman, the fastest 400s kick he is aware of are, Phelps/Thorpe: 5:08; Erik Vendt: 5:04; Chris DeJong: 4:56

Training Trip to Miami

iX3sports enjoying a morning practice in Miami

This week, we at [iX3]sports have taken our talents to South Beach.  We have enjoyed the training, the South Florida sun, and the camaraderie of teammates who all share similarly high expectations of what’s to come in 2012.  I have been challenged in many new ways by our coaches, Sergio Lopez and Gustavo Calado.  With only six months until U.S. Olympic Trials and seven months until the Olympic games in London, we are preparing for exciting things to come!

Risk averse swimming–not ProDual1 athletes

ProDual1 held in Ann Arbor, MI was a success–probably one of the brightest spots of the year for swimming. The stands weren’t full, and the format of the meet didn’t turn the sport on its head.  The wheel hasn’t been reinvented.  But two things happened because of ProDual1 that indicate untapped potential (in the athletes and the sport):

  • 30 men participated in the competition

I believe nine of these athletes represent Club Wolverine.  That is, 21 Olympic caliber athletes were willing to fly to Detroit, get a ride into Ann Arbor, secure lodging for the duration of the meet, and compete in front of a guaranteed crowd of precisely 0.  Assuming a round trip ticket to Detroit for $400, only 7 athletes made enough medal money to break even (winnings of each individual).  This of course excludes any costs associated with food, lodging, and ground transportation.

These 30 athletes actions represent a desire, and possibly, a need for a better stage for our sport.  The motives that spurred these 30 men to compete in ProDual1, if uncovered, would reveal a lot about the professional potential of swimming in this country.

  • ProDual1 created an environment where I saw more personality from individual athletes than I’ve ever seen at a swim meet.

The meet was fun (Bobby Savulich did a great job both organizing and competing in the event).  We woke up mid-morning, ate breakfast at Benny’s (the best diner in Ann Arbor), briefly warmed-up at the pool around 11am, played video games, and awaited the great races that began at prime time.

Whatever the factors were, I observed athletes reveal much more of their personalities (myself included) before and after races.  Guys were giving waves and other personal salutes to the crowd prior to competing.  This was a breath of fresh air!  Those individuals who give us memorable athletic performances should be celebrated!  Having a stage where personality and individual success are championed are crucial. ProDual1 gave us this invaluable insight.