Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace Dishes On Handling External Pressures With Former Coach Brett Hawke

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bahamian Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace talked with her own college coach at Auburn Brett Hawke on his podcast about her career where she was a multi-NCAA champion for the Tigers and swam in three Olympic Games for the Bahamas.

Vanderpool-Wallace came from the Bahamas, a country primarily of track and field runners, and she talked about why she decided to start swimming after her mom (3:00) when she was young. She talked about the difficulties of finding places to swim in the country and how a lot of people on the islands don’t know how to swim.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace talked about how she ended up swimming at the Bolles School (10:00) in Jacksonville and how that helped push her career beyond new heights. She swam for Jeff PoppellRick Bishop and Sergio Lopes in her three years at Bolles (13:30) and was able to become one of the top sprinters in the high school class of 2008. She talked about her first Olympic appearance in Beijing 2008 (16:00) as she started college at Auburn immediately upon returning home from China.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace talked about her freshman year swimming for legendary coach Richard Quick (20:00) in 2008-09, and how it made her a tougher swimmer. She had a big breakthrough in her junior year (23:00) where she broke the NCAA record in the 100 freestyle at the 2011 SECs and won the NCAA title in the 50 and 100 freestyle. She said that the reason why she had such a huge breakthrough was because of the extra level she was pushing each day in practice.

She was the first woman in the NCAA to break 47 seconds in the 100 freestyle in 2011 and was also the first woman to split under 21 seconds in a relay in the 50 free.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was only 5’6″ and she went over why her height was not a disadvantage (30:30) when racing against women that were taller than her. She had a lot of pressure on her during her senior year (32:00) when she had the potential to break 21 seconds for the first time from a flat start as she was swimming her final NCAAs in her home pool in 2012. Vanderpool-Wallace finished third in her best event in the 50 free on the first night of NCAAs and fifth in the 100 fly the next night.

On the final night of the meet, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace won the 100 freestyle in front of a stacked field with Megan Romano and Margo Geer in one of Hawke’s favorite races in his coaching career as she went over what she learned from that meet. That summer she represented the Bahamas at the London Olympic Games and reached the final in the 50 freestyle and finished eighth. She discussed the nervousness of making the Olympic final in the 50 (41:30) and how difficult it was to hone in on the race itself that day.

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