PHOENIX, Arizona, October 29. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show we meet Notre Dame junior Frank Dyer, who made history last season at the NCAAs and hopes his teammates will feed off that success this season.
Dyer placed fourth in the 200 free at the NCAA championships, and he relives the experience of racing swimmers from more notable swimming schools, and why he was not afraid of representing Notre Dame in that race. He also talks about his relationship with head coach Tim Welsh, and how the team is working toward getting more male swimmers to the championship meet in March. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Commings: This is The Morning Swim Show for Monday, October 29th, 2012. I'm your host Jeff Comings. Notre Dame's Frank Dyer finished fourth in the 200 freestyle at the 2012 NCAA Championships, the highest placing for a Notre Dame male swimmer in the program's history. Dyer is now a junior in Notre Dame and he joins us right now in the FINIS Monitor. Frank, welcome to the show. How are you today?
Frank Dyer: Doing pretty well. How about yourself?
Jeff Commings: Doing well, thanks. Thanks for joining us. So, you're the first All-American swimmer at Notre Dame, at least on the men's side. How does it feel to be attached to that distinction?
Frank Dyer: You know, I think it just comes with the school that I go to. Notre Dame has such a rich history of excellence in sports and just football, basketball, what other sport it may be, and I just think it's really cool to be the first one for the swimming and diving aspect, at least on the male side, like you said.
Jeff Commings: When you came back from NCAA's getting fourth in that 200 free, was there any kind of celebration going on at the school? I mean, did the athletic department kind of do anything that would kind of rival what they do when Notre Dame football wins?
Frank Dyer: You know, football kind of takes priority over swimming, but one thing we do have every year at that end of the year is called this Oscars Program, which basically celebrates all the student-athletes here at Notre Dame, and our emcee, which is named Keith Embrey, he's one of the directors here for the Student Welfare and Development Program, he basically gave me a little shutout. We had all the student athletes in the room and he said where is Frank Dyer? And I stood up and he said — he gave me a little props for being the first All-American on the men's side, so that was pretty cool. That made me feel really awesome.
Jeff Commings: Probably got chills to be in that room.
Frank Dyer: Yeah.
Jeff Commings: It's really cool. So you dropped two seconds in getting that fourth place in your 200 freestyle from your freshmen to sophomore year. I mean, what happened in that year to make you drop so much time?
Frank Dyer: You know, I think I really kind of found a place on this team. I came in my freshman year and we had a lot of really good guys older than me and a lot of strong leadership on the team. And my first year was kind of getting my foot in the door and seeing where it could take me. My second year, I really felt like I found my place on the team and developed my own leadership role and found out where I could excel and do a lot better in. And that definitely brought me through my second year especially coming off such a fantastic freshman year, and I just let that positive energy from my first year definitely brought it over to the second year where I definitely thought I could succeed a lot more.
Jeff Commings: Was it kind of just this mental just breakthrough between your freshmen and sophomore year you just kind of said, you know, look, I actually feel like I'm a part of this and I'm going to step up know?
Frank Dyer: Yeah. I definitely knew that after my freshman year I exceeded the expectations that I had set for myself, maybe not for my coaches, but definitely for myself I felt like my freshman year was just kind of test drive to where I could go in the collegiate athletics. And going into my second year I felt like I could just do so much than I had done, and I'm a big fan of positive energy like you said. I think it was just a mental thing that I just kind of had to sit myself down and say I've had so much success in my freshman year and it has to continue on to the my sophomore and, hopefully, to my junior and senior year as well.
Jeff Commings: Tell me what was like to be in that A final in that 200 freestyle NCAAs.
Frank Dyer: That was pretty cool, I mean, especially my freshman year at the meet, as you know, Cal won its first national championship and the atmosphere at the first meet out in Minnesota was just unbelievable. I mean, like, they had double the size of — half of the crowd was half of Cal's alumni. So, then, going into my sophomore year I knew that that meet, the atmosphere would just be so amazing and intense and I had Dax Hill next to me from Texas and the USC guy, unbelievable guys. A lot of big schools in there and this was the first time Notre Dame would be in an A final. And I just knew that I had to represent my school well and it was a really incredible feeling. I was going in second, I got fourth, but it was still — I was so proud of the accomplishments that I'd done and what I had done for Notre Dame, so it was really awesome.
Jeff Commings: Knowing that you had these big schools representing in these lanes next to you, you know, was there a little bit of butterflies in your stomach, like, do I actually belong in this or did you kind of feed off that?
Frank Dyer: You know, all year I think my 200 time had been on collegiateswimming.com that I was up there third, second, fourth, or whatever, and I don't look at those, but my — a lot of my teammates and my coaches do and saw that I had been in the mix for a little while, and I think going in to that meet I kind of had a little something in me that I knew that I really was capable of swimming at that meet with those guys, and just because this was the first time that Notre Dame had been in that final heat. It doesn't mean that I didn't belong there, not at all. And I felt even these were big schools, I mean, just the powerhouse swimming schools you hear Notre Dame may not be one of them, but we're definitely trying to get there, and that meet was I think the first step in the right direction for that.
Jeff Commings: I would say so. Now, Tim Welsh has been leading this program at Notre Dame for many years. What was it about him as a coach that made you feel like he was the right fit for you?
Frank Dyer: When I was looking at schools, I really, really valued the coaches. When I came out, actually, I met Tim, it was December of my senior year out at Ohio State, the Junior Nationals. And Tim spoke with my parents before he spoke to me, obviously, 'cause he had to wait until the last one of my races. And I remember speaking with Tim and he had so much experience about the sport and so much knowledge that I've never really seen in a coach before until I met him, and I really saw that he was so passionate about Notre Dame swimming and where he's led the program. And I think my freshman year they had just come off a win in 2009 in the Big East, and he was really, really passionate about where Notre Dame, where he wanted Notre Dame to go and where he thought I could take it. And he instilled that in me the moment I met him. And I was fortunate to go out on a trip in January and, eventually, I just fell in love with the school and definitely know that it is the right fit for me based on that first meeting with Tim I thought.
Jeff Commings: Well, even though you are kind of top name in the Notre Dame swimming program right now, you're not the only name, so how does the team look this season?
Frank Dyer: Actually, we have — every single one of our scoring swimmers from the Big East Meet last year returning, so we have a very strong senior class, a very strong junior class, and a very, very strong sophomore class. We've brought in, I think, it's about eight or nine freshmen that I really think that we are better than last year already time-wise. And our coaches have instilled in us over and over again that we won last year, we won the Big East, but that doesn't we're going to win it again. We've got a lot more hard work to put into but we do know that the talent we had last year is here and it's just a matter of how we're going to be able to tap into that talent and how are we going to be able to drive ourselves to succeed to this season.
Jeff Commings: You think we might see somebody else going at the NCAAs besides you?
Frank Dyer: That's absolutely true. We've — we're having — currently, we just had our fall break last week and we are talking about goal meetings and goal setting and this year it's a little bit different. For the past years I think for me it's been individual and time wise, and now it's time to kind of talk about relays and especially with the changes in the NCAA selection process. We feel that we definitely will have some more guys get there and, hopefully, with the improvements that we will make this year will definitely have some more guys score.
Jeff Commings: Now, at the NCAAs your 200 was better than your 500, but at Olympic trials your 400 was better than your 200. So what could you say is your better event?
Frank Dyer: You know, it's funny, people ask me that and I say that I know how to swim eight lengths of a pool. I just know how to do eight lengths. So, obviously, the 200 yard freestyle is eight lengths and the 400 meter freestyle is eight lengths. And it's funny because at different times I'm a different — I have a better race. My freshman year was all about the 500. Last year was about the 200. And this year I'm really thinking about trying to guide both of those into where they should be equally as good. And I think that that comes with lot of kind of mental training that — I think I just had a really spectacular year with my 200 last year and that was me thinking that I'm – I was going to continue that success with the 200. But I know that I'm also — I have a lot of success in the 500 as well, so this year I think we'll have to be kind of finding that balance between the 200 and the 500 and, hopefully, improving equally upon both.
Jeff Commings: Well just think of your 500 as two eight-length chunks and then an extra 100 at the end.
Frank Dyer: Yeah, yeah, that's right.
Jeff Commings: I saw that you were member of your chorus in high school. Are you still musically involved in Notre Dame?
Frank Dyer: Yeah, actually, well, yeah, when I was in high school, I was in a select chorus with actually, like, 11 of my best friends were in that group with me. And my freshman year I didn't do anything, I just kind of stuck to swimming, but last year one of the women's team members, Kelly Ryan, who also swam at the NCAAs for Notre Dame, convinced me to join an a cappella group on campus called Half Time. And we perform — we practice twice a week and it's something that I really value 'cause it's not swimming and it's not school, and it's definitely taken my mind off those two things where I can relax and enjoy myself and it's something that I've really enjoyed in the past and I'm really glad that I've taken that opportunity to do it here at Notre Dame.
Jeff Commings: Well, I'm just going to put you on the spot to end the show here, if you want to kind of take us off with singing a little bit of a tune. We've had a lot of musical talent on the show and we could add you to that list.
Frank Dyer: You really want me to sing something?
Jeff Commings: If you want. I'm not going to pressure you to do so.
Frank Dyer: Okay. I'm going to say that I'm not going to, but I will tell you who I am a really big fan of. I — in my group I sing the song “Everything” by Michael Bubl?, and a lot of my friends know that I'm a huge fun of Michael Bubl? and he's — I like singing his music. I like Frank Sinatra. I like the songs he does by Frank, and so that's one of my big fans. I'm not going to sing 'cause the connection is probably bad and I don't want to sound too terrible, so I'll just leave it at that.
Jeff Commings: All right, well, it whets our appetite. Maybe we'll have you back on the show when you are more a little bit more prepared and –
Frank Dyer: Oh, yeah.
Jeff Commings: We'd love to hear Frank Dyer singing for us on the Morning Swim Show sometime.
Frank Dyer: Okay.
Jeff Commings: All right, Frank, thanks so much for joining us, and congratulations on the past success, and we'll look forward to all your future success.
Frank Dyer: Yeah, I really appreciate it. Thank you for having me.
Jeff Commings: No problem. That's Frank Dyer joining us on the Morning Swim Show today. We'll have him back to sing for us. And that's going to do it for today's Morning Swim Show. I'm Jeff Commings. Thanks for watching.
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