PHOENIX, Arizona, May 13. IN the latest edition of our Promising Seniors-To-Be series on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com, we spoke with A.J. Tipton, who swims for Lauren Hancock at Bearden High and Gardner Howland at the Pilot Aquatic Club in Knoxville, Tenn.
As of the May 8 National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) release of All-American candidates, Tipton is the top rising senior in the 100 fly with the second-fastest time in the country of 48.07. He also stands sixth in the 500 free in 4:27.22.
His other times on the All-American consideration list are a 45.95 in the 100 free and a 1:43.19 in the 200 free.
Here is our interview with Tipton:
Was there a watershed mark in your career that made it clear you had a gift for the sport and could achieve big things?
When I started training under Gardner Howland, my career changed completely. I realized I had a future in competitive swimming. My first year with him, I went to Long Course Sectionals and just barely missed the National Cut. I was still pleased, because I went 15 or more seconds faster than I had the year before.
What type of interaction do you have with your coach when it comes to training? What kind of input do you have?
My coach and I have a good relationship. Whether we are doing an aerobic freestyle set or a quality set, he is interested, looking down at his watch every repeat, and giving advice. We both try to make the most of our practice time, so we talk a lot about technique and how I am feeling. He is always interested in what I have to say about how my stroke feels and whether I am worn out or not. Most of the time, he gets frustrated because I don't tell him enough.
What are your goals for your senior season?
The Olympic Trials will be my main focus next summer. I hope to post some fast short course times at Nationals in December as well.
Who has made the biggest impact on your swimming career to this point?
Gardner Howland, my coach at Pilot, has made a huge impact on my swimming career. I owe much of my success to him. He has helped me to enjoy swimming while taking my career to the next level.
Have you verbally committed to any University? If so, which one and why? If not, who is in your top five and why?
I have not committed to any university. There are so many great programs, that it is very difficult to select a few. I am interested in Georgia, Texas and Michigan to name a few. These schools have great programs and great butterfliers.
What has the recruiting process been like for you?
The recruiting process has really just started. I have just gotten letters and e-mails. July, I hear, is very stressful. But, I'm still looking forward to it. If all goes as planned, I will sign with a school that I feel is the best place to swim fast.