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Tom Malchow Talks About His World Record -- June 23, 2000

(Last Saturday, June 17, Tom Malchow broke the world record in the 200 meter butterfly at the Charlotte UltraSwim meet in Charlotte, NC, clocking 1:55.18. His time broke the record of 1:55.22 set five years ago by Russiaís Denis Pankratov. Swiminfo chatted with Tom recently about his record-breaking performance.) -Phil Whitten


SWIMINFO: Tom, Congratulations on your spectacular swim.
TOM MALCHOW: Thanks, Phil. It was a very emotional experience for me.

SWIMINFO: Were you expecting to challenge the world record in Charlotte?
MALCHOW: I donít really know what I was expecting. A few weeks ago I went a 1:55.68 in Ann Arbor and there were several things I knew I could improve on. So, yeah, I knew Iíd be in the ballpark, but breaking a world record takes a lot of focus and I didnít know if I would be that focused in Charlotte.

SWIMINFO: So what happened?
MALCHOW: I donít really know. I just had a great swim where everything fell into place at the right time. Was I fixiní to break the record? No, not specifically. But in the back of my mind I knew it was a possibility.

SWIMINFO: As you were swimming, were you aware you were on record pace?
MALCHOW: Yes, from the crowdís reactionóthey were great! That was definitely a big factor. I could hear them at the 100 and when I turned at the 150 they were going crazy. So I figured I must be on pace and I told myself I just had to hold on for one more 50 (meters).
Later I found out I was on pace for a 1:54-high at the 150, so I died a little the last 30 meters. I started to shorten up.

SWIMINFO: Were you rested or tapered for Charlotte?
MALCHOW: No, not at all. The only thing we did differently is that we only worked out for 75 minutes on Thursday morning before we left for Charlotte, rather than the two hours we usually do.

SWIMINFO: Were you wearing a body suit?
MALCHOW: Yes, the Speedo Fastskin.

SWIMINFO: How much difference do you feel it made?
MALCHOW: Itís hard to give you an exact percentage, but I think it probably helped me.

SWIMINFO: More than shaving?
MALCHOW: Thatís hard to say. I like the way it feels; it helps me ride higher in the water. Every swim Iíve done in the suit has been a good one, so I feel confident and comfortable. That might be a big part of it: I think itíll work, so it works.

SWIMINFO: Do you wear the full body suit or the sleeveless version?
MALCHOW: Sleeveless. I think you need some flesh in contact with the water. I like to feel my hands and arms touching the water. Also, I donít like the constriction around my shoulders in the full-body version.

SWIMINFO: After swimming your 1:55.18, have you reset your goals?
MALCHOW: Yes. Jon (coach Jon Urbanchek) thinks I can go a 1:53. I hope he means a 1:53-highÖ1:53.8 or 9Öor a 1:54-low. I think those are realistic times. After I taper and shave I think itís reasonable to pick up a second or a bit more. Normally when I shave and taper thatís good for three or four seconds. But if I can go a 1:54-low to 1:53-high Iíll be very satisfied.

SWIMINFO: Switching gears for a moment here, have you thought about swimming the 200 free at Trials?
MALCHOW: Thatís a little tempting, with six spots available as opposed to two in the 200 fly. But with the overlap in the two events, itís a lot to concentrate on. If I made the relay, Iíd have to swim three 200 flys plus two swims in the 200 freeóthatís five high-intensity 200s in two days. I think a better strategy for me is to focus just on the 200 fly.

SWIMINFO: What about the 100 fly? Youíve never been known as a sprinter, but you swam a 54.0 unrested at Charlotte.
MALCHOW: Yeah, Iím going to swim it. Iím definitely not the favorite, but I think Iím in the ballpark. Iíd have to say Dod (Wales), (Bryan) Jones, (Bill) Hargis, (Brock) Newman and (Nate) Dusing would all have to be picked ahead of me. Theyíre all drop-dead sprinters, so they have to be favored.
I havenít swum a 100 fly rested, so weíll have to see what happens when I taper and shave. I think Iím capable of a 53-low and maybe a 52-high if all goes well.

SWIMINFO: Why do you think youíre getting faster in your "old age"?
MALCHOW: I donít really know. It could be experience and the fact that Iíve had the opportunity to focus on swimming and not be distracted by school. Thatís meant more sleep and Iím eating better. Iíve also toned down some of the aspects of college life.
This is my opportunityómy moment. Iíve made every sacrifice possible for the Olympics, and I hope it will all pay off. I probably wonít be competing in 2004, so this is it for me. If I donít succeed, itíll be my own fault.

SWIMINFO: So you plan to retire before 2004?
MALCHOW: Probably. If I swim well in Sydney, Iíd like to continue at least through the World Championships in 2001. After that, weíll see.

SWIMINFO: How do you size up your competition for Sydney?
MALCHOW: Itís a little scary right now. If you compare where we are today with 1996, weíre miles ahead. There probably are six or seven people now who can swim faster than Pankratov when he won in Atlanta.
A few days after I did my 1:55.68 in Ann Arbor, (Franceís Franck) Esposito did a 1:55.61 in Rome, and he commented through SWIMINFO that I had my work cut out for me and not to expect a cakewalk, not to picture myself with a medal around my neck.
If Iím fortunate enough to swim the 200 fly in Sydney, aside from Esposito, there is (Denis) Silantiev from Ukraine, Yamamoto from Japan, the two British guys (Steve Parry and James Hickman) and the two Russians. Even though Pankratov isnít swimming all that well, you canít dismiss a guy who went 1:55.22. Then there are some Americans who are no slouches either.

SWIMINFO: Finally, Tom, how do you feel about the decision by USA Swimming yesterday to ban the body suits from U.S. Olympic Trials?
MALCHOW: I was a little ticked at firstóI like the suit and find it comfortable. But they talked about fairness, and I guess they have a point. Right now, some people canít get the suit and lots of people have a problem of getting one that firs perfectly. So I guess the decision is a good one.
From a personal standpoint, Iím thinking that if I can put in a good swim at Trials without the suit, having it at the Olympics will be a bonus. Iíll go to Sydney knowing I can swim faster.

SWIMINFO: Tom, thanks a lot for spending this time with us. And good luck at Trials.
MALCHOW: Thanks, Phil. It was my pleasure.