PHOENIX, Arizona, November 5. ON today's edition of the Morning Swim Show, Caitlin Leverenz talks about “getting back into the swing of things” in training at UC-Berkeley coming off a bronze medal in London. She also discusses racing China's medley breakout star Ye Shiwen in the 400 and 200 IM at the Olympics.
Listen to her plans for the coming collegiate swimming season as well as her personal and team goals for the NCAA Championships. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Tiffany Elias: This is the Morning Swim Show for Monday November 5th, 2012. I am your host Tiffany Elias our guest in the FINIS Monitor today is Caitlin Leverenz. Last year she made her mark as one of the top swimmers in the NCAA and now she came out a bronze medal in the 200 IM from the London Olympics Games to her resume. This senior from Cal joins us today from Berkeley. Caitlin, welcome to the show.
Caitlin Leverenz: Thank you.
Tiffany: So you must be getting back to some normalcy in your life post London being back on the Cal campus, is that right?
Caitlin: Yeah, just getting back in the swing of things in the school and training and life is busy as usual.
Tiffany: So is it busy with school and training or any different than the start of your other years?
Caitlin: I may think a little bit. I mean definitely there is still a lot of you know post-London hype and doing some interviews and that kind of thing here and there so on and a little bit about to it makes it a little busier, but just school is always keeps me on my toes and again back in the training obviously.
Tiffany: All right, well let's start off with talking about London. The IM events were among some of the most exciting and controversial in London. So you were a big player in that 200 IM. Overall bronze medal, must be pretty happy with that performance, right?
Caitlin: Very, very happy. I — you know, I knew I could be in medal contention and be close to it and you know I went a best time and I put everything I had on the line and I am really happy with how I did.
Tiffany: So on the first night we were able to watch the 400 IM and everybody saw what Ye Shiwen did in that 400 IM, particularly on the 100 freestyle leg. Did she play a factor in your mental preparation at all? Did that get to you? Did you use it in your strategy at all knowing that you would be swimming next to her in finals for the 200 IM?
Caitlin: I mean I think I used in my strategy of kind of just tuning her out because I didn't really know or expect what I was going to get from her especially on the freestyle so you now I knew to be in middle contention I had to be first at the 150 anyway, no matter what anyone was going to do on the freestyle leg because that is not my strongest. So when we turned for freestyle, I kind of just put my blinders on and went for it and just gave it everything I had and crossed my fingers that I got to the wall.
Tiffany: Well, it was still pretty close race at the 150 but you were ahead. Did you know that you were ahead or could you tell at that turn?
Caitlin: Yeah when I turned I could tell when I was in first, but I knew it wasn't by a lot. I knew that both Alicia and Ye were pretty close behind and both of them are phenomenal freestylers so they have a great back half.
Tiffany: So your overall London experience then was definitely a success?
Caitlin: Absolutely, for a sure. I mean even just so in the 400 IM and you know being in my first final in the Olympic Games and finishing 6th and then being able to you know learn that you use that and learn from it and come back and come home with a medal. It was absolutely amazing.
Tiffany: Did you change anything or what did you learn from your 400 IM that you were able to apply to the 200?
Caitlin: I think the 400 IM just gave me a much better idea of kind of how finals felt and the atmosphere at the pool and just like a swim under my belt to get the nerves out of the way more than anything, and you know I was a little bit off kind of my best in the 400 IM but I think you know I was really, really nervous for it and I think I got that first like, you know overly nervous swim done before the 200 IM started.
Tiffany: And wrapping up with two final swims and a medal, did that sort of take the sting off of missing out on the team on 2008?
Caitlin: Yeah, definitely and absolutely. I think obviously you know I would have loved to make the team in 2008, but I just don't think that was in the cards for me at that point in my career, and I was incredibly happy to make it this time around and then really .. like in making it I was like I don't want to go home empty handed. You know I really want to come back with something to show for it, so I am really just really happy with how it ended up.
Tiffany: Yeah, well you definitely did that. So transitioning into NCAA's or college swimming, that is going to be some huge momentum. You already had a great year last year. You won the 200 IM, you were just out touched in that 400 IM, completely dominant in the breast stroke and now you are coming back off of the London. Where are you at mentally going into your final collegiate season?
Caitlin: You know I have some people ask me like you know is it hard to come from the Olympics and go back to NCAA swimming, as if it is supposed to be a letdown which is coming from people who don't understand NCAA swimming because I absolutely love college swimming and I am so incredibly thankful that I can come back to another year of it and you know come back to my team and just the adrenaline and the excitement of an NCAAs is you know it is unlike anything else, and so I am incredibly just excited and ready for this final year that I have and just you know use every moment I can and just enjoy it.
Tiffany: So will you be – can we expect you to be swimming the same events this year as last year, the 200 IM, 400 IM and the 200 breaststroke?
Caitlin: I mean it's probably a good guess but I always like to throw in the 100 breast and 200 fly in there as well and you know I think I have gotten to be a lot stronger in both of them so I never really fully choose I mean even last year until NCAA's I was debating what to swim in so yes those are definitely my three usual ones, but we will see what I throw in there.
Tiffany: Would you consider the 200 IM your baby of the events now and since you have seen so much success in it over the last 2 years?
Caitlin: You know what, I didn't use to think so, I used to think I was much more of a breaststroker and a longer IMer, but and that is how I train. I train much more for a 400 IM but I think that is kind of why my 200 IM has become so good and yeah I think it is probably my baby event. My most emotion behind it now that it just that you know I broke the American Record title last year and then medal in it and so I mean it is a good and a bad thing. It kind of puts me in a place where I put a lot of pressure myself going to NCAAs but you know I can use that pressure also to make my swimming faster.
Tiffany: Right so a year ago you had mentioned that you were really trying to work on your backstroke and it looks like your freestyles improved pretty drastically over the last year as well, so was that still your focus or where is it now as far as strengthening your strokes for the IM?
Caitlin: I mean, I think it is still, you know in that heat in London I think I still had like the slowest backstroke and then like one of the slowest freestyle splits, so you know so I still have a lot I can work on there. I think that is kind of always going to be a weakness of mine that I am always going to be able to find ways to get better in both backstroke and freestyle. You know and luckily now I am training with you know arguably the best backstrokers in the world with you know Cindy Tran, Elizabeth Pelton, Rachel Bootsma like everyday, and so I think that was really fun for me. I have done a few backstrokes and got my butt actually absolutely kicked, but it is good. I mean it will only make me better in the long run and the same with freestyle you know just the more it can you know get better. The 200 free or the 500 free or you know do more freestyles so I think is it will really help out that back end.
Tiffany: Well that is one thing for sure out there in CAL is that you have got a variety of all the strokes and all the distances they are going to push you regardless so.
Tiffany: So it makes perfect sense for training.
Caitlin: Yeah. It is great for an IMer.
Tiffany: Now this might be a little premature, but you have one year left of college swimming. Have you already started your next — if there is a 4 year plan for Rio have those thoughts started turning yet?
Caitlin: Yeah, I mean I definitely and there had been thoughts going through my head, but you know it is hard to say 4 years seems like a long time away and you know even though I look back on 08 and it seems like it was just yesterday, but right now from where I am standing you know in 2016 is kind of there but I mean I would love to keep swimming you know and I would love to be able to make a career out of it and find opportunities for myself in that way and so I have been thinking about it, but right now I have my focus has just been on this last year of NCAA swimming and just you know enjoying that.
Tiffany: Well that is definitely going to be a fun one to watch again this year. Now before we wrap up, we just want to talk about another Leverenz. Your sister is doing some great things on the high school level. Brianna has been making a name for herself among the high school girls. Now she is showing some potential, has Terry started recruiting her yet?
Caitlin: Well she is always sophomore so not – it hasn't officially you know they haven't spoken to her really because they are not allowed to.
Caitlin: But she is definitely on you know Teri and Kirsten's radar I think and you know Kirsten will ask me like you know, “How is Brianna doing, how is training?” And like she is just so excited. She was so excited to be in London and she was like a little kid in a candy shop and everything she saw was unbelievable to her so, but I am really glad she is doing well and you know I think it is good that we kind of have strengths in very different places. I think it is good for both of us, but yeah she is at a great club team in Tucson and hopefully she keeps doing well and we will get highly recruited by her senior year.
Tiffany: Yeah, well it must be exciting, a lot to look forward to for her future. All right great job in London and we really look forward to the college season.
Caitlin: Thank you very much.
Tiffany: All right thanks Caitlin. That is Caitlin Leverenz in the FINIS Monitor. That will conclude today's Morning Swim Show. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest. I am your host Tiffany Elias. Thanks for watching.
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