Morning Swim Show, Dec. 17: Rich DeSelm Excited About North Carolina’s Prospects in 2013


PHOENIX, Arizona, December 17. NORTH Carolina swimming head coach Rich DeSelm joins today's edition of The Morning Swim Show after what he calls a successful mid-season meet in Ohio.

DeSelm was pleased with the performance of his Tar Heels at the Columbus Invite a few weeks ago, especially since they were not at full tapers. The swimmer of note was Stephanie Peacock, who managed to break her own NCAA record in the 1650 freestyle. DeSelm talks about how he believed Peacock was going to have a great mile after her fast 500 freestyle, and whether they use Katie Ledecky's recent mile swim as a bar to reach. He also discusses the upcoming winter training plans and how his philosophy about holiday training factors into getting ready for the championship season. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Tiffany Elias: This is The Morning Swim Show for Monday, December 17th 2012. I'm your host, Tiffany Elias. Our guest in the FINIS monitor is Rich DeSelm, the head coach of the University of North Carolina's men's and women's program. Now although the college teams are mid-season, UNC is off to a great start, including an NCAA record in the ladies' 1650. Joining us from Chapel Hill to share more about the Tar Heels – Rich, welcome to the show.

Rich DeSelm: Thanks Tiffany, it's great to be here. Good to see you again.

Tiffany Elias: Great to see you again. I just saw you a few days ago at the Tom Dolan Invitational out at the University of Maryland. Now your daughter was swimming, how did she do this past weekend?

Rich DeSelm: Oh, she did great. I'm really proud of her. She's a hard worker and had some great coaching here in Chapel Hill with Kathy McGee and Sean Quinn and it's the third year she's been at the Tom Dolan meet and she did one best time and got close in some others so hopefully she feels good about it.

Tiffany Elias: Well this meet was really fast this year, quite a few age group records. Were you also keeping your eye out for recruiting purposes?

Rich DeSelm: Oh absolutely. That's fertile ground for us, that DC Metro area and northern Virginia and Pennsylvania so we get every year a lot of recruits, some of our very best have been from that area, and they just run a great meet, it's fast as evidenced by all those age group records this weekend so it's great to just be able to go with my daughter and also be able to recruit and look ahead to the future.

Tiffany Elias: Yes, this weekend did not disappoint. So let's go ahead and talk about where you're at mid-season. You guys are already off to a great start, in particular Stephanie Peacock breaking her own NCAA record in the 1650. Prior to that swim where would you say you guys were at at the season training wise and just overall your thoughts on how the season is progressing.

Rich DeSelm: I think we've had a good start to the season. We haven't had as many meets as we normally have this fall but we had some good ones. We opened up down at South Carolina, we had Texas A&M and I thought we swam very, very well and we got a lot of energy coming off that meet and then hosted Virginia Tech and swam well there and our women went to the Dallas Classic Meet and I was pleased with those meets, those results as well so what we did do I thought was very good. Again, not as many meets as we're used to having. We hosted our Nike Cup before Thanksgiving but our top 20 men and women only swam in that meet really for relays at night and maybe sporadically on Thursday and Friday and then definitely one event at least on Saturday but we were focused on two weeks later so went up to Ohio State with those 20 and that was a great meet, Ohio State did a great job putting it on and there was great competition and I think out of the weekend we got – or at least out of the fall we had 55 lifetime best time swims so very good in the weekend.

Tiffany Elias: Were you guys fully tapered for that meet?

Rich DeSelm: No, not at all. We did let them go home for Thanksgiving but we were in a full training cycle and we did singles the last couple of days before going up to Columbus.

Tiffany Elias: Well that's really promising, that very best times off of coming off of some heavy training. Was Stephanie 15:37 in the mile a shock or was that about where you were expecting her to be?

Rich DeSelm: Well I'd be lying if I said I expected her to be there, but after her 500 free on the first night where she did a lifetime best time for which I have to thank Coach Troy and Coach Wilby at Florida and Elizabeth Beisel for matching up with Stephanie. Those two young ladies went stroke for stroke in the 500 free at night first night and both were 4:34 I believe and that is Stephanie's lifetime best time, so once that happened two days later we felt like she could certainly be close to what she did last March. So she started off and had a nice first 500 racing a young lady from Florida again and then her middle 500 was just outstanding, faster than her first 500, definitely faster than her middle 500 at the NCAAs and Stephanie essentially swam more or less alone from 500 on but she kept her pace going and actually dropped her splits each 50 down to faster pacing than she did at the NCAA. At NCAAs she was neck and neck with four people for a while and then ultimately she and Haley Anderson were stroke for stroke down to the finish but Stephanie had a great weekend for sure.

Tiffany Elias: Does she happen to have now a goal time in mind for NCAAs now that the bar has been raised mid-season? What does she need to do in her race in order to get that down?

Rich DeSelm: Well she and I met about that and I probably won't – it's not completely formulated in all honesty but she's not the type of person that sets time goals, she loves to race and the way the times are going this year with so many people swimming faster and the miles certainly being deeper at this point in the season than they have been for sure there will be a great race going on and I think Stephanie, I think she needs to get stronger so that she can go out a little faster. There's no doubt in my mind that she can endure the distance. She's just a great racer, she loves it, she's one of the sweetest people you'll meet but she is fierce in the water. So she'll be eager for racing and I know there will be people definitely gunning for her, just a lot of people that are swimming very, very well right now.

Tiffany Elias: Well you're right. It was a very close race last year and it most likely again will be. I would be remiss not to bring this up – with Katie Ledecky's mile being so outstanding at this point she's really raised the bar here for the standard of miles with her 15:29 so we're left to compare that to our NCAAs and where our girls are at. Has Stephanie shared her thoughts on where the future of the mile is and your guys' opinions on how that compares to the club level and where younger swimmers are at in the mile?

Rich DeSelm: We haven't expressly talked about that but Stephanie's aware of what's going on out there. I saw Katie swim this weekend, she's obviously a real talent, doing what she's done at the age she is remarkable and she's clearly one of the greatest ever. And I suspect this weekend that she was training through the meet and doing some great times even in the midst of what I suspect would be pretty hard training if I knew Bruce very well at all. So given that that's sort of a home pool or a home meet for nation's capital still Katie's at a level that certainly Stephanie would aspire to and I look forward to the day that the two of them can race and hopefully Stephanie can be competitive with Katie. There are just a lot of other people out there as well – Sarah Henry who's from our backyard here in Raleigh North Carolina down at Texas A&M had a spectacular meet and they're doing a great job with her and then obviously out in California what's going on there and down to Florida and I'm obviously missing some people. But there's some great, great swimming going on and I think there's going to be an explosion in the 500, the mile on the women's side this year and hopefully it will carry over to a much deeper field in the 800 meters next summer.

Tiffany Elias: I think you're completely right. Those events are – there's a lot to look forward to in our distance freestyle events. So looking ahead we're getting ready for Christmas training. What's on the agenda for UNC?

Rich DeSelm: We're in exams now, Tiffany, and the last exam is Friday and we're going to train Saturday morning and then we let our folks go home. I like to let them be home for about nine or ten days and then we're getting together down in Naples, Florida at T2 Aquatics, really nice outdoor 50-meter pool and the team stays in a condo beach hotel area over on the Gulf and we've got a really good setup down there through Kevin Erndl who's Erica's husband. So we'll be down there for about 10 or 11 days and then come back here, train a few more days before school starts, and then right back into the fire. We go up to Navy to swim them the 12th and then we're up at Virginia the 19th and have Duke and State and then head into the championship season.

Tiffany Elias: So do you follow the tradition of bumping up the yardage during that holiday training?

Rich DeSelm: Well we do but maybe not as much as I used to. We try to encourage everybody to just be very consistent. This week during exams, next week when they're home we're in touch with club coaches of our folks at home and just updating them as best we can and I was able to see a few of them over the weekend up at the Tom Dolan meet. And our group does a really good job when they go home so when we get down to Florida it's doubles just about every day, we don't take many practices off, we'll have a meet with Penn State toward the end of the trip. But the very nature of going doubles every day does jack up the yardage and we'll use it as an opportunity to make sure that we're at the fitness level that we want to be at but also coming into January we've got to be fast. As we were just discussing swimmers are swimming fast and the faster we can go in our dual meets I think builds confidence and gets you a better speed time and I've always prescribed that the faster you can go before you rest and shave the likelihood is you'll go faster when you do.

Tiffany Elias: I think that's a valid philosophy. You are the head coach of both the men's and women's programs. Now we're seeing a general split across the country as far as coaches that have a combined team versus the separate men's and women's programs. What would you say is an advantage of being the head coach for both the men and women?

Rich DeSelm: I've only known one way from my years of coaching since the late '70s when I graduated from Carolina I've always coached men and women. And I enjoy it, I think it's healthy, it's more fun to me. Again, I don't know the other side. But certainly we have control over the pool time, we have great racing going on, we've got a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, we move as a group, almost always there's a few meets a year that may be separate and that's healthy too. We just have a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm for each team for the other team and certainly being able to control our environment and not have to negotiate with perhaps another coach of the other team so that we can utilize the facility in the best manner and at the best times that makes the lives of our swimmers here at UNC work and divers. So again I only know the one way but I've enjoyed coaching both men and women throughout my career. It can be busy and you're probably going to ask about what the other side might look like but to me it's natural, normal, and it's just what I've always done.

Tiffany Elias: Well if it's working then you don't want to fix anything. I would imagine that those would be some big advantages of just controlling your pool time. But Rich thanks for sharing the inside on UNC and good luck at ACCs and we look forward to seeing you at NCAAs.

Rich DeSelm: Thanks Tiffany. It was great to see you last weekend and I appreciate the time being with you today.

Tiffany Elias: Great, thanks Rich.

Rich DeSelm: Bye.

Tiffany Elias: That is Rich DeSelm in the FINIS monitor and that's going to conclude today's Morning Swim Show. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest news. I'm your host Tiffany Elias, thanks for watching.End.
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