PHOENIX, Arizona, August 24. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show Davis Tarwater relives the experience of competing in his first Olympic Games.
Tarwater, who earned a gold medal as part of the prelim foursome on the United States' 800 freestyle relay, talked about the atmosphere of the Olympics and how he was able to handle the pressure while swimming his leg of the relay. His life since the Olympics has been a whirlwind, including visiting his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn. Also discussed on today's show is Tarwater's future plans, which could include swimming, as well as two very diverse career paths. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Commings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Friday, August 24th, 2012. I am your host Jeff Commings. Today in the FINIS Monitor is Davis Tarwater, who finally got to achieve his goal of competing in the Olympic Games, and Davis joins us right now on Skype from Knoxville, Tennessee. Davis good to see you again. How are you doing?
Davis Tarwater: I am good, good. Thanks for having me.
Jeff: I am sure you are actually more than good. You finally got to go to the Olympics. You got a gold medal in that 800 free relay. You were a prelim swimmer. What are your emotions right now when you think about your Olympic experience?
Davis: It was just an absolutely unbelievably magical experience. I mean, I am really tired you know coming back from it all. It was just such an emotional experience not only competing, but just being part of the village, being part of the whole Olympics seeing the other sports and seeing the energy. It was just you know I didn't know what it was going to be like. I thought I had an idea and it just completely surpassed all my expectations.
Jeff: This isn't your–wasn't your first national team experience. You have travelled internationally to a lot of meets. How does it compare to the atmosphere you know any of the other big meets that you have been to?
Davis: It is not even close. I mean there is a sense of urgency with the Olympics and a sense of importance of the Olympics that is a lot different from a world championships or any other kind of meet. There is an understanding of how important it is for the sport for every 4 years. It is on display in an Olympic year and it raises the level of competition from everyone and so I just think that you can just, you can feel that energy you know as a competitor and as a spectator as well.
Jeff: And you swam the prelims of the 800 free relay for U.S. How did you feel about your swim?
Davis: Well actually hang on a second I got put this hat on first.
Jeff: Oh that makes it so much better. I like that.
Davis: Yeah. All right, we can proceed now.
Jeff: You got the official U.S.A. beret there.
Jeff: That definitely adds to it.
Davis: If I don't have this on, I can't do a very good interview and like it is like my thinking cap. I have been wearing it everywhere.
Jeff: Well it is not only obviously probably makes you smarter, but it makes you look even better.
Davis: Yeah, I mean it is fashion forward. It is probably the most important piece of fashion that I own right now and I have been accessorizing it with literally everything in my wardrobe. So yeah anyway, I swam in the morning and even in the morning it was just absolutely unbelievable. There is you know 20,000 people in the stands and they were going berserk for a morning prelim relay swim you know, and just it was unbelievable and then on top of that actually have to take a relay exchange you know and seeing in your periphery just the expansive crowd in the stands that just kept going up and up and up. I mean it was intense. It was the most intense swim I have ever had at any point in my life. I am just so blessed to have had the experience.
Jeff: Now seeing as you had, I think this was unlike the 5th day of the meet. You had the whole time to kind of soak up the Olympic experience, did that kind of help you prepare for it or was it still just one of those things where it was like this is still not real for me?
Davis: Yeah it was just like still not real for me. You know I mean being able to go out there and walk out, you kind of take a deep breath and say this is the Olympics and for me the Olympics had been such an elusive thing. You know it was just like time and time and time again I had you know been so close and not made it, including this previous Trials and when I finally walked out there and kind of took a deep breath and said to myself you know this is it. This is what you have waited for. It was really a kind of a magical moment for me and I just think I was so emotional but I just you know I had a great swim and I had a great time.
Jeff: Now clear up some things that were going on before the 800 free relay. There was some talk of Peter Vanderkaay, who had had a very good 400 free a few days before might get selected to swim in the prelims. Was that ever something that was discussed?
Davis: It wasn't anything that was discussed with me. I mean obviously I am sure that discussion was happening at the staff level it was not something that I was ever informed of. Peter is great veteran of that relay and he has been on there the previous two Olympics obviously and he was swimming great and you know he probably deserved a chance to be on there, and that is the thing about those relays, is it is completely coaches discretion. You know you could have won the event at the trials and then not be put on, so I am sure there is a lot of discussion. I am just glad I had the opportunity. If it could have gone with Peter that I would have you know supported Peter and cheered Peter on because he is one of my best friends and, but I am just thankful that I had the opportunity to go.
Jeff: Yeah obviously because you got a gold medal from it so you didn't get to stand on the podium with the guys in the finals. Tell us how you were actually given your gold medal.
Davis: It is done internally the next night. We have a team meeting at like 5 o'clock right before the session every single night of the meet and the prelim golds are given out in front of a team internally and it is a pretty cool moment and it's cool to be recognized you know by the guys that won the medal and also the guys you know that are just the other guys on the team so you know Coach Troy presented me and Matt and Charlie with our medals the next day.
Jeff: Really nice. So last time we talked to you, you were in Knoxville for training camp and you had said you didn't really know what you were going to do after the Olympics. Is that still true? Are you still kind of got a lot of things up in the air?
Davis: Yeah, I definitely have a lot of things on the air and you know I don't know exactly what I am going to be doing. I would like to continue to swim I think for a little while. I don't know exactly what that means and what format that will be, but I was swimming really well at the end of the summer and you know I was swimming really well in freestyles which I think that was a bit of a surprise for me because I had really kind of put all of my eggs in the 100 and 200 fly basket. I think I am just too old to swim butterfly now. I am like 28 which is like a dinosaur so I think maybe I should start in freestyle like an old man, like Jason Lezak. You know this is like when he just really started hitting his stride at 28.
Jeff: Well you know maybe the butterfly will be more tempting the way that now there is one less person in it.
Davis: Yeah that is true. That is true as well, but I mean there is also the old man factor that I have which you know I don't think means anything. I just made that up.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. I think a lot of people have proven that wrong. I mean Ryan is going to be in his 30's in Rio and probably doing the 400 IM so you know 200 fly is probably nothing.
Davis: Yeah, the 200 fly is definitely nothing. It is like the easiest event.
Jeff: So you know I got to say that is a big statement to pull. A lot of people won't say the 200 fly is the easiest event but I guess when you have been doing it all your life you probably think it is easy.
Davis: No I don't think it is easy. I think if anybody went back and watched my performance from the finals at the Olympic trials they would know that I was in a lot of pain.
Jeff: Yeah, I think that is a light way of putting it. Going vertical with 5 pianos on your back is the way it looked, but you definitely hung on there. So yeah, talking about you know a lot of things up in the air. I know that you had talked about you know law school kind of up as one of your decisions and you know with swimming in there. Have you had a lot of discussion with Dave Marsh your coach, Matt Kredich who coached you as well, about any of your options that you might have going forward?
Davis: No not really. I mean I only got home two days ago. You know I think any time after a quad is over you know it is really a good time to really reflect and really look at you know what the future might bring, and I just really haven't had the time to internalize exactly what that means for me. You know, I am coming out of a period where I am really motivated in the sport, but I am also really motivated to you know pursue other interests and in terms of school I don't see myself as having the desire to go back to school. You know I am content with the Masters that I have and ultimately I would hope to be able to do some kind of international business or national finance type work at the end of the day, or takeover for Anthony Bourdain. If Anthony Bourdain offered me to right now to be his replacement, I would retire from swimming.
Jeff: Well those are two very diverse careers: international business or traveling around the world eating food like Anthony Bourdain.
Davis: Yeah and I'm good at eating food and I think that any coach that has had a chance to train me after I have had a little bit of a break will understand just how much I like to eat food.
Jeff: Well you will definitely have to keep training if you are going to do that.
Davis: Yeah, yeah.
Jeff: Well for now you are right, you got to take the time to kind of enjoy the experience and everything, and I am sure you will be excited to walk around the streets in Knoxville especially with that hat on and get some recognition.
Davis: Yeah for sure. Knoxville has been so unbelievably supportive of me and also of Claire Donahue. It is just it is really special to have a town really rally around you and really — they really been bitten by the Olympic bug. They came out in full force to see us when we were in town out for the Olympic training camp and it is just it does my heart good when you know a city, you know this is a decent sized city, is so supportive and I just, I can't thank this town enough and I am really looking forward to being able to share those this gold medal with the town in support of me, you know. I am not going to put this thing in a box and worship it on the wall you know I want to share this and help inspiring Knoxville's youth and that is something I am really serious about and so I am really looking forward to that element of this whole thing.
Jeff: Well good I'm sure that will be appreciated to be able to see that gold medal Davis. Thanks so much for joining us today and best of luck in whatever your future holds.
Davis: All right, thanks for having me.
Jeff: All right that is Davis Tarwater in probably the best head attire we have seen on the Morning Swim Show here. I am Jeff Commings and that is going to do it for today's show. Be sure to always join us on Facebook and Twitter and join in on the conversation. Thank you for watching.
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