PHOENIX, Arizona, December 3. TODAY'S edition of The Morning Swim Show features a conversation with South Carolina's Michael Flach, one of the top collegiate swimmers in freestyle and butterfly so far this season.
Flach, who posted quick times in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles recently at the Virginia Tech Invitational, talks about returning to collegiate competition after taking off last season to prepare for the Olympic Trials. He said that redshirt year paid off dividends in the short term with a place in the 200 fly finals in Omaha, and he said the long-term effects means he'll have a shorter postgraduate season in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Trials. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Comings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Monday, December 3rd 2012. I am your host Jeff Commings. Today in the FINIS Monitor, we will talk to Michael Flach. He is primed to be one of the best mid-distance collegiate swimmers in the country this season after a strong showing at the Virginia Tech Invite, and Michael joins us now from Columbia, South Carolina. Michael good to see you, how are you today?
Michael Flach: I am doing good Jeff. Thanks for having me.
Jeff: Our pleasure. So the Virginia Tech Invite is where you swam really fast in the 200 free, 500 free and actually 200 fly as well. Were you fully shaved and tapered for that meet?
Michael: I wouldn't say fully. I mean the way the season's set up this year and the selection processes, we knew we could play around with it a little and kind of get into the meet differently than we have in the past, so we wanted to do enough to get me a qualification for the NCAAs in March and I think we did just that so it set us up really well.
Jeff: I would say so: 4:18.38 in the 500 free which at that time was the fastest collegiate time in that event and not too far of your lifetime best, right, if your best is 4:16?
Michael: Yeah that is correct.
Jeff: So, I mean for not being fully tapered you have got to be pretty happy to be so close to your lifetime best.
Michael: Yeah definitely, I mean it has been awhile since I got this one, the 500 yards since the redshirt last year but I think it is a really good meet for m. I could kind of shake off the cobwebs and get back into racing mode for college.
Jeff: Now tell us about that race especially since you didn't have anybody to swim against. So you are basically racing the clock. Tell us what your focus was like and how you were able to maintain that pace knowing that you were out there alone?
Michael: It is that feeling going to set yourself up that first 200 or so and my main focus in the 500 is finishing strong, so working those last walls and getting home and just finishing hard is usually what my focus is on. So I was happy that I got out fast enough to put myself in that position.
Jeff: And as I said you also had a good swim in your 200 free. You are just tenths off your lifetime best, so this is going to be a major turnaround here for you, would you agree?
Michael: Yeah, definitely. I think since that we have been playing with the speed a little bit more, getting the chance to swim on some sprint relays that I hadn't really had the chance to swim on in the past and I think that is showing. My 200 free is giving me a little bit more speed in the shorter distances which I really like I think it is good for me.
Jeff: Yeah it was interesting to see your name on some of those shorter relays. It's like Michael Flach doesn't do anything under a 200, so is this something that you kind of want to play with as you move along here trying to get into those shorter distances at least for relay purposes?
Michael: Yeah for relay purposes definitely. I would love to help out the team on relays and to be a part of that and just putting myself up on those relays to help the team any chance I can get, so I think being able to focus in training on more sprints is helping my 200 free about the same time it is also helping the team out with those relays.
Jeff: Yeah, so as I mentioned it is a turnaround here for you. Tell us how South Carolina is doing. It looks like there is a lot of great things happening there as well.
Michael: Yeah, it has been a huge season for us so far just setting ourselves up for the second semester and ACC championships. We have got a lot of great senior leadership on the team this year and a huge freshman class to come in and help add to that so we have definitely been having a really good season and hopefully continuous over into the next semester.
Jeff: What did your Head Coach McGee Moody say to the team at the beginning of this season to kind of get you guys pumped up and ready to want to swim fast?
Michael: He knew as well as we did that this was a breakout season for South Carolina swimming. Everything was in place for us to have just a huge season across the board and he has been there every step of the way just keeping us focused, keeping us motivated, keep our eye on the prize kind of toward the end of the season. It has been a blast this season so far.
Jeff: As you mentioned you took that Red Shirt Year last year in training for Olympic trials. You finished 8th in the 200 fly, a really big moment for you I am sure so looking back were you happy with the fact that you took that redshirt year?
Michael: Definitely, yeah. No regrets on the redshirt I think it definitely paid of and for the long run and just in the short run being able to put that focus on the Olympic trials and having it turn out the way it did. Yeah, I have no regrets in what the choice I made and I figured it really helped my career overall.
Jeff: Tell us what it was like to walk out there in front of 13,000 people in the final of that 200 butterfly?
Michael: It was just surreal. I mean just took every ounce of concentration I had to not lose myself in that moment and just kind of keep my focus on the pool and on the race because just to walk out next to all those guys, those Olympians and all-Americans and National Team members and to be mentioned in that heat and then just swimming in front of the huge crowd, like you said 13,000 people. It was an amazing moment.
Jeff: Now you said obviously the redshirt year helped you in the short term in training for trials and you also say that it would help you in a long run. Explain that a little bit.
Michael: For the long run I think that was more what we were looking at when we first decided on the redshirt was the long run being 2016 in the Rio Olympics. We knew that it was a long shot for me to make the team this past year in 2012, but looking ahead if we set myself up the right way it could give me an extra year of college swimming and then just keep me in the pool longer and keep — make that decision to go for 2016 that much easier when the time comes.
Jeff: I see so basically reduced to your post grad years leading up into 2016?
Michael: Yeah pretty much.
Jeff: Okay, well that definitely make sense so final in the 200 fly at the Olympic Trials you are swimming very fast in the 500 made the consol final on that in 2011 in NCAA's. What would you say is your best events? It seems like they all could be.
Michael: Yeah it is kind of up in the air I guess. I came in to South Carolina kind of more of middle distance freestyle or pretty much just the 500. I didn't even swim the 200 free in my freshman year and then as I began to progress in the training and weight lifting and such with the program we started to notice that my 500 free was getting a lot better. My 200 free is getting a lot better. My 200 fly was getting a lot better. So we started to focus more on those events and then in the long course season my 200 fly just kind of took off. I don't know really how to explain it, but it did and so that was my focus this past summer. We really put everything into that 200 fly and just saw how far we could take it, but yeah I mean I guess you could say I am a butterflyer with a pretty good middle distance freestyle or in a middle distance freestyle with a pretty good butterfly. I don't know how you put it.
Jeff: I think those are – that is a good way to put it. It keeps your options open, especially maybe even your senior year in college or when you go into your post grad year is what events you could really start to focus on.
Jeff: Well it is no surprise you are a great middle distance swimmer, you grew up swimming with the FISH in the DC area where Kate Ziegler came from as well. I mean talk about training with her growing up and also how being on a team that had a big distance background is helping you now?
Michael: Yeah, I think that the training we had with the FISH that set me up really well for what I am doing now. I got a lot of good distance training when I was younger to kind of set that base for what I am doing now and being able to train next to Kate every day in high school, it was just huge eye opener for me on what it takes to get to that next level and the dedication and the just — being there every day in practice and putting everything into it every day. That is what you see from Kate Ziegler, she was just, she is one of the hardest workers you will ever meet and so I was very fortunate to have her as a mentor and to learn from her the importance of training hard and keeping focused.
Jeff: That is great. What are you studying there in South Carolina?
Jeff: Business, yeah it said in your bio I think that you chose South Carolina because of the business school, at least one of the reasons you chose itself. Has the business school so far met your expectations?
Michael: Yeah it is a great school.
Jeff: And what do you plan to do with that degree down the road?
Michael: I am not sure just yet, but I think that it leaves my options pretty open so this thing is definitely something that I can work with in the future.
Jeff: Absolutely. Well, before we go I noticed also that you have four sisters. Are they all older than you or do you have some younger?
Michael: Two older and two younger.
Jeff: All right so you are the middle child?
Jeff: There are some advantages and disadvantages to that I guess. Do they all swim?
Michael: In the summer like the summer league they all swim, but I was really the only one who took it year round and really took it further than that.
Jeff: Well that is probably a nice escape for you being in the house with 4 girls.
Jeff: What was it like growing up in a house with 4 girls?
Michael: It is interesting. Yeah, but definitely always trying to hang out with friends doing something different. I didn't want to have to be stuck in with my sisters all the time so I made a lot of friends growing up.
Jeff: I am sure there are probably all of them in the pool. I am sure your sisters are big supporters of what you are doing now?
Michael: Oh they are. Yeah.
Jeff: It is great to hear Michael. Thanks so much for joining us. Congratulations on your great mid-season swims and we are looking forward to see how well you do the rest of the season.
Michael: Thank you Jeff.
Jeff: All right, see you down the road.
Michael: All right.
Jeff: So that is Michael Flach joining us today for the Morning Swim Show. We are glad you joined us today as well. Be sure to visit us on swimmingworld.com on Facebook or on Twitter for all the latest news. I am Jeff Commings. Thanks for watching.
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