Grant House to Take Olympic Redshirt at Arizona State

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Grant House will take an Olympic redshirt this season. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Arizona State junior Grant House is taking no chances this year to try and qualify for the 2020 Olympic team. House told Swimming World he was going to sit out competing for the Sun Devils this upcoming school year and take an Olympic redshirt to ensure he is 100% prepared at the 2020 Olympic Trials in June.

An Olympic redshirt is different than an academic redshirt in that House will not be taking any classes this school year, and will be a full-time athlete in preparation for next summer. House had the option to take a regular academic redshirt and still get scholarship money, but wanted to avoid the stressors of school and be able to mentally readjust himself moving forward.

House had the seventh fastest 200 free time in the United States in 2018. Even though he qualified 16th out of prelims last summer, House said that had he replicated that in an Olympic Trials format, then he would have been able to put himself in contention for a top six spot.

“I was nervous about how the team would react but they have been nothing but supportive,” House said. Without him, the team will have a chance to grow and be even stronger when he returns in the fall of 2020.

Now he will have a swimming focus leading into Trials, which will be a nice reset after the hectic summer he had in 2019.

Grant House’s 2019 Summer:

To start things off, House and the rest of the Arizona State swimmers could not train at their on-campus pool in Tempe due to summer renovations, so they spent the majority of the summer training abroad at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. After a five-week camp in Colorado, the team went to the Mission Viejo invite in California in June, and then after that it was time for House’s first international team trip (on the senior level) to the World University Games in Naples, Italy.

And that was when things got interesting.

The entire swim team was supposed to meet up in Newark to get on a direct flight to Italy, with House and fellow American team member Katharine Berkoff getting to the gate early.

“We got to about 45 minutes before the flight was supposed to board and there still weren’t a lot of people on the team at the gate,” House said.

Delays all around the country caused planes to not be able to fly into Newark, and roughly 15 people were able to make the Newark flight out of the 56 on the total roster. It took roughly two days for the entire team to congregate in Naples, with some people getting to the meet the day before it started.

“We really just had to laugh through it all since there was nothing we could do,” House said.

Despite the travel issues, House and the rest of the United States team had a successful meet, raking in 40 medals, with House contributing to a gold medal in the 4×200 free relay with a 1:47.89 split. His best last summer was a 1:46.9 from the B-Final at US Nationals which got him on the team for World University Games.

After he returned home from Italy with a gold medal, it was time to shift his focus to the Pan American Games at the end of August in Lima, Peru, where he would be swimming on the 4×200 free relay again. But he would also have an opportunity to swim the individual 200 free, something he never had the chance to do, not even on the junior level.

But even with zero delayed or cancelled flights, the trip to Peru didn’t go 100% according to plan.

House swam on the 4×100 free relay team for the United States on the first night of the meet. There weren’t any relay specific swimmers on the trip so he was fortunate enough to get a spot on the team. There, the team won the silver medal with House swimming the third leg with a 49.4 split and after the race, the entire relay was pulled for drug testing.

This is standard procedure at any national or international meet, but finals for the Pan American Games started at 8:30 local time, meaning they wouldn’t get to drug testing until close to midnight. The team was able to avoid any plane delays before the meet but they couldn’t avoid a delayed van that was supposed to take them back to the village after getting done with their drug tests in the early hours. It was roughly a 45 minute drive back to the village, and they finally got back to their rooms close to 3 a.m., meaning House and fellow relay swimmer Drew Kibler had only a few hours to get ready for the 200 free heats.

“I told Drew Kibler with sincerity that we should just sleep at the pool to get ready for the 200 free,” he said.

With only a few hours sleep, House and Kibler were able to get through to the A-Final, with House coming in fifth in the morning at 1:49.40. At finals, he was able to go faster but only managed sixth place with a 1:48.58, still not close to his 1:46.9 best time.

“The meet at Pan Ams was overall better for me than WUGs,” Grant House said. “It was good to experience unideal circumstances. I was still able to get into an A-Final and experience the ready room atmosphere and everything that comes with that. There were definitely positives to take away from it.”

After the Pan American Games, Grant House was able to return home to Ohio to re-evaluate his goals and hit the reset button before the Olympic year begins. This was the break House needed to realize that taking an Olympic redshirt was the right move for him. This way he will have more time to recover and rest and not have any outside stress from classes and exams.

The men’s 200 free is right now one of the most unpredictable races heading into next summer for the United States. Andrew Seliskar has the top time in the country from 2019 with a 1:45.71 while Kieran Smith is second at 1:46.21, Townley Haas (1:46.37) is third and Dean Farris (1:46.45) is fourth. Luca Urlando (1:46.51) and Blake Pieroni (1:46.62) round out the top six but there’s a whole slew of guys behind them that will be vying for spots on the Tokyo team.

The 200 free is more of a tactical race than the 100 free, which also takes six spots for relay purposes, so it will be a war zone to get through to the semi finals and the final. If you are going to advance to the final and get one of the six spots for Tokyo, then you have to show up for the prelims and the semi finals, and Grant House will be taking no chances this year.

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