PHOENIX, Arizona, October 1. JACK Conger is not waiting until his freshman year at Texas to make a statement, and he talks about some of his goals in the coming months on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show.
In addition to having his eyes on Jeff Kostoff's national high school record in the 500 freestyle, Conger wants to break the 1:39 barrier in the 200-yard backstroke to send a message to his future college competitors. It's all part of the training he and Sue Chen have been putting in at Rockville Montgomery Swim Club in an effort to keep Conger from being boxed in as a 200 backstroker. Conger also talks about the recruiting experience and what got him excited about committing to the University of Texas. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Jeff Commings: This is The Morning Swim Show for Tuesday, October 30th, 2012. I'm your host, Jeff Commings. Jack Conger is going to be a Texas Longhorn next year, having made his verbal commitment to head coach Eddie Reese last week, and Jack joins us now in the FINIS monitor from Rockville, Maryland. Jack good to see you. How are you today?
Jack Conger: I'm doing well. How are you?
Jeff Commings: Good. It looks like it's good weather out there in Rockville, Maryland.
Jack Conger: Yes, it's a little warm in October but I'm sure it will cool down a little bit.
Jeff Commings: Well one thing you won't have to do in Texas is shovel snow. I'm sure you won't miss that.
Jack Conger: Absolutely not.
Jeff Commings: Well congrats on making the decision. You must feel 50 pounds lighter.
Jack Conger: Oh, thank you, yes. It was a definitely a big weight off my shoulders. It was something that I really had to think about for a long time and weigh the pros and cons and talk to my parents and talk to my coach and talk to my family and I just feel like — I feel great.
Jeff Commings: Well take us through the process. Was it always an easy choice to make or did you always kind of – were you still heavily considering other schools up to the last minute?
Jack Conger: I was definitely – it's a really hard decision to make. Texas and Cal always were kind of my one-two, not necessarily in that order, but it turned out to be. But definitely I knew that those were the two programs that I think I'd fit best and those were the two trips I had and I loved them both, they're great. It really came down to I just feel that Texas was the best fit for me and I'm really looking forward to going down there next year.
Jeff Commings: Did the fact that your friend and longtime rival, Ryan Murphy is going to Cal? Did that kind of factor to your decision?
Jack Conger: No, not really. I've really never been one to try and make my decision off someone else. I kind of have wanted to guide my own path and lead my own way. It certainly would have been great to train with him and train with Jacob but I think it would have been cool for him to go to Texas too, but I know he'll be great out there at Cal.
Jeff Commings: What was it about the University of Texas that influenced your decision?
Jack Conger: Right when I got there I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. It was a really cool thing to have the whole team just click together. I got to meet Eddie and Kris right away. They sort of showed me around the campus and then we kind of went into the city and it was just a really cool town and I really, really just enjoyed being there and I felt like I could really see myself succeeding there as a student and athlete and as a swimmer so I feel like it was a good decision.
Jeff Commings: When you were watching the workouts there, watching the Texas team do a workout there, did it seem like it was different or the same from what you do currently in Rockville?
Jack Conger: I went and I think my weekend was September, I think the 4th to the 6th so it was really early in their season. They were practicing outdoors because the pool was getting renovated. But from what I could see it was definitely different from what I'm doing right now. They were at first just doing just like a lot of just loosening up and at the end they were doing a lot of dolphin kick work which I think I need to work on actually so I think that will be great. But I know that's not what they always do, that's just kind of I think what they do in the beginning of the season to loosen up but I think that I should adjust fine to their workouts.
Jeff Commings: Yes, having gone to Texas and having swam for Eddie I have a feeling that the high yardage you and Sue Chen do at Rockville is pretty much equal to what they do down in Texas with a lot of quality work and work on the technique too.
Jack Conger: Yes, absolutely. I think the yardage that we do now will definitely translate and help me out next year and years to come. I think that weights will be a little bit different for me. I have never really lifted before so I think that it will – I kind of do that right now like ab work, pushups, that kind of thing but I think that weights will definitely help me a lot, it will take a little time to get used to, but I definitely think it will help out my water work.
Jeff Commings: Do you know what your major is going to be? Have you decided on any kind of career path you might want to take?
Jack Conger: I'd like to be a Business Administration major and then maybe a minor in Criminal Justice because that's kind of what I want to do, maybe going to that field. But that's as of right now, it could change.
Jeff Commings: Well you've got plenty of time, they don't expect you to know right away when you step on campus. Just kind of last question about recruiting – is there any part of the recruiting process that you didn't like or you wish could have gone a little bit better for you?
Jack Conger: I'd say it went pretty smooth for me. One thing I would say is try not to take trips back to back because they – as fun as they are they really do take a toll on you just from all the travelling. So try to space them out as best as you can just so that you're resting and you can really get good thoughts after each trip. But my process went pretty smoothly, so it was good. I'm really glad to have it over but it was a long process, in the beginning it's always fun to get all the calls from the coaches and towards the end it's really stressful but then when you make your decision, you feel great.
Jeff Commings: Yes, I'm sure you do. You are wrapping up your senior year at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. Has senioritis started to creep in at all?
Jack Conger: Oh no, I've still got a lot of work to do. Definitely I'm definitely not trying to have that happen to me, still going to try and maintain a good GPA for my senior year just to show that I don't really want to slack off.
Jeff Commings: What's your GPA there?
Jack Conger: My GPA there is currently a 3.1
.Jeff Commings: That's pretty good, pretty good. I know those private schools really put a lot of focus on academics. It must be a really tough school.
Jack Conger: Yes, definitely with missing a lot of schoolwork it's hard but I make do, I manage, I try.
Jeff Commings: Well I'm sure they're excited to see what you're going to do in the pool this upcoming high school season, particularly the DC Metro Meet which is your high school championship meet. Do you know what events you're going to swim there yet?
Jack Conger: Sue and I have talked about what we might do. I definitely want another crack at Jeff Kostoff's National High School record in the 500 so I think that will be something definitely that I'll do. And now I'm sure I'll do the 200 medley and the 400 free (relay). I haven't talked to my high school coach yet, it's not — swimming season doesn't start for another month. But what I want to do is I want to wait, I want to have my 500 to be my first event so — I'll do relay before but my first individual just so I can be fresh and loose. So I'll definitely do that first and 500's toward the end of the meet so I think I'll do 100 back after but that could change, it all just depends on what Sue and I decide on.
Jeff Commings: Do you think that swimming the 50 last year before the 500 affected you in the 500?
Jack Conger: No, just because it's a 50 and if you warmdown right, it shouldn't really take that much of a toll on your body, but I think I didn't warm down enough, I was a little nervous with the time in between so I sort of rushed through and I paid for it a little bit in the middle of my race but definitely it should be a good one this year.
Jeff Commings: Well last year was the kind of first time we'd ever seen you do a 500 freestyle. What was the thinking behind adding that event to your program?
Jack Conger: Well I mean most people know me as like a mid-distance, like a 100 to 200 guy, and I just wanted to show people that I was versatile and I could do a 500 with the yardage and aerobic base that Sue does such a great job with training me. I knew I could have a great race and believe it or not I wasn't even tapered for that meet, I had a couple of days rest. I should get a little more this year since I'm a senior, so I definitely feel like it should be a lot faster.
Jeff Commings: Well that's going to be one of those – it's been around, it will be coming up on 30 years, so it's going to be one of those records that everybody is kind of like “When is it going to happen?” Last season, did you think you were going to get that close to it?
Jack Conger: It was in the back of my mind. I try not to think about times when I'm swimming just because I'm kind of superstitious that if I think about them when I swim then I won't hit them. But I kind of felt like once I went out that fast, I think I was a 1:39 low, just when I went out that fast I feel like I was close to it and I sort of faded a little bit in the middle at that like 350 to 400 mark so I think that's the time I'll kick it in gear, this time with a little more rest, a little bit more muscle, that kind of thing.
Jeff Commings: Okay, so is the 500 maybe going to be an event that you'll do in college?
Jack Conger: Eddie and I have definitely talked about doing that. It really depends on the scheduling of the meet and what we both want to accomplish. It's definitely an option that could happen, it might happen in my freshman year or it might not, it should happen even in my senior year. We'll see how I train and then we'll decide from there my three events.
Jeff Commings: Well the 200 back is always going to be your best event. Are you going to go to Nationals in December?
Jack Conger: Yes, at Nationals I will be doing fly and free and then I'll come home and a week later I'll swim my backstroke events that I always love doing at the local Tom Dolan Meet at Maryland.
Jeff Commings: Yes, we remember that meet very well, you went 1:40.4, it was just like last year. Are we going to see a sub 1:40 200 back this time around?
Jack Conger: I'm hoping so. I've been working real hard, all my numbers are adding up right now, so I certainly would like to be under 1:40 but we'll see.
Jeff Commings: Well it will definitely send a message to everybody who will be getting ready to swim in college. You remember David Nolan did the same thing in 200IM. His 200IM national record turned out to beat all the college guys, that would be something that a lot of college guys will be kind of scared to see.
Jack Conger: Yes, I mean it would be really nice to go into college being under sub-1:40 but if I go a best time and I don't break 1:40 there's always – I can re-taper, re-shave in the spring so it will be good. I'm really looking forward to it.
Jeff Commings: Well it's going to be exciting to watch you not just in your senior year in high school but also your four years at Texas. Are you the type of person who plans their swimming goals four years in advance or do you just take it one meet, one year at a time?
Jack Conger: I do both, I have short term and long term goals, so I definitely have goals that I want to accomplish when I'm a freshman and I definitely have goals that I want to accomplish when I'm a senior.
Jeff Commings: Care to share maybe just a couple of those?
Jack Conger: I'd like to be as close as I can to the NCAA record in the 200 back my first year or second year. I'd like to try and win my freshman year. I know that Ryan, Jacob, and David Nolan will all be right there and Pat Murphy on Texas is doing some real good things out there right now. I know that by no means it will be easy but it's just a goal of mine.
Jeff Commings: Yes, it will definitely send a statement, that's for sure Jack. Well thanks for joining us today, again congratulations on your decision, good luck with your high school season, and we'll see you on deck at Nationals.
Jack Conger: Absolutely, thanks for having me.
Jeff Commings: My pleasure, see you down the road.
Jack Conger: Absolutely.
Jeff Commings: All right, so that's Jack Conger joining us in the FINIS monitor and that's going to do it for today's show. As always we remind you to log on to swimmingworld.com on Facebook or on Twitter for the up to date swimming news. I'm Jeff Commings, thanks for watching.
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