FORT WORTH, Texas, March 22. OUR series highlighting some of the first-time qualifiers for next week’s NCAA Men’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championships continues today with a backstroker who just missed out on last year’s meet.
Name: Cooper Robinson
Year, school: Junior, Texas Christian University
Events he’ll swim: 200 IM, 100 back, 200 back
Swimming World: The final of the 200 back at the Big 12 championships featured a few people who might be in the top 16 at the NCAAs. What did you learn from that race that you’ll take to the NCAAs next week?
Cooper Robinson: For me the biggest thing I always had to deal with are my nerves before races. At Big 12’s I learned how to control my nerves a lot better than I ever had before, so I’m definitely more excited going into NCAAs than nervous. I just want to go out there and swim.
SW: The 200 backstroke is becoming an event that is getting close to 100 yards underwater. How much work each week do you devote to working on your underwater kicks?
Robinson: I try to focus on my underwaters as much as I can in each practice. Whether it’s a kicking or backstroke set, I do believe the little things in sets will make the difference when it comes to taper time.
SW: After winning the Big 12 title in the 200 back in 2013 but missing out on the NCAA championships, what did you do this season to give yourself the opportunity to qualify for the meet this year?
Robinson: It gave me a lot more motivation to work harder this year. I sat down with my coach at the beginning of the year and we decided that we either needed to work more on underwaters or technique. Mentally, I was hungry for the chance to compete at the NCAAs. It’s always been a goal of mine, so for each practice I really pushed myself in sets and the weight room.
SW: You’re the first male Horned Frog to go to the NCAAs in three years. Is this the start of a new era for TCU Swimming?
Robinson: Each year I feel we keep getting better and better. I do believe that more TCU swimmers are capable of making the NCAAs. The work ethic of this team is amazing and the coaching is phenomenal.
SW: Describe the dynamic between you and head coach Richard Sybesma.
Robinson: I am very grateful for all the coaches at TCU. They have helped me to achieve many things in the sport. Richard always pushes his swimmers to be the very best they can be. He knows many things about the sport and has a lot to say in practices. I’m always asking Richard for advice on my stroke during sets. It is an extreme privilege to have him as a coach.
SW: How has the rest of the team helped support you as you prepare for NCAAs?
Robinson: The team has been very supportive and has been wishing me luck for next week. They push so mush during practice thought the year. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have the whole team and coaches helping me. I’m so happy that I can have a supportive team with me.