Hansen, Peirsol Speak to the Media

PHOENIX, Arizona, March 6. IN a USA Swimming-sponsored teleconference call, world record holders Brendan Hansen and Aaron Peirsol chatted with media from around the globe. Here are some of their thoughts on various issues:

Brendan Hansen
On comparing last summer's success to the upcoming meet:
"You can only compare them so much to each other. Last year, I was the only member of my team not to break a world record, so I was motivated, and then I went on a tear. Going into this meet, it is a different time of the year with a lot more travel involved. I feel stronger right now and am about 2-3 pounds heavier than last summer. At least physically, I think I am better than last summer. Now, it is just mental."

On acclimating to the time change:
"A lot of the swimmers on our team are veterans. USA Swimming does a good job of acclimating us to swim our best. That won't be an excuse for any swimmer on our team. Going into Beijing, that just gives us more experience in getting used to the time zone change."

On the dominance of the U.S. men's team:
"There is a sense of pride. It is more of the atmosphere of the team. When we get together, there is a camaraderie and pride. When I leave and meet up with the guys, we are going to feed off each other. That is why I think we have been so successful in the past. We're going to continue to do that."

On whether a lack of another tough team causes any lack of motivation:
"I don't think, as a team, we think about other teams. We worry about certain competition, but we don't care who is the second-best team. We just keep feeding off each other. If someone goes out there and breaks a world record, it fires me up. That is our mentality. Not having another powerhouse out there is not stopping us from being motivated."

On who is your major competition in your events that motivates you:
"There are a lot of strong competitors. I just know what I did last summer and since the Olympics has drawn a bigger target on my chest. There are a bunch of guys, including Eric Shanteau because he looks that good. Overall, it is the same competitors like Brenton Rickard in his home country. It is going to be a battle, but that is the fun of this sport. The racing is the fun part."

On staying motivated after owning the breaststroke:
"I surround myself with people that don't let me slack at all. It is not so much my personality, but the people I train with every day. They see so much potential, and they continue to try to get me to reach new levels. That is a decision I made, and it has worked for me in the past and the future."

On surrounding yourself by other veteran male swimmers:
"Eddie Reese said it best one time. You don't pick swimming, swimming picks you. When you surround yourself with people with the same goals and mentality, you go into a meet with a lot of confidence. It is important to have other guys pushing you."

On whether Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time:
"I think it is hard to say that somebody is the best swimmer of all time. The best way for me to describe Michael Phelps is that he is a clutch guy. When he gets into a pressure situation, he performs. That makes him a great swimmer. With the different areas and categories of swimming, I don't think you can outright call any swimmer the greatest swimmer of all time. There is probably some 12-year-old out there that will do better at some point."

On the advantages and disadvantages of swimming in the Michael Phelps era:
"He has elevated our team. When you compete against the best there is, your game improves. When I played golf one time with a professional, I had my best round ever. The younger kids get to see how successful we all are. One of the greatest things about Michael is that he lets all the star stuff go. When he hangs out with us, he is a regular person. He takes a lot of pride in what we do as a team. I have been faster because we are all thinking the same thing and are in the same boat. That is a pretty cool thing."

Aaron Peirsol
On whether this meet is an indicator for Beijing:
"I think it is and it isn't. One way it is, this time of the quadrennium, a lot of people start coming up and showing their colors. You will see a lot of that these championships. In another respect, it is a year and a half out from the next big meet we have. Everyone on this team right now is more or less a veteran of this sport. They have shown they can stay around for quite some time."

On the difficulty of Eddie Reese's training:
"A lot of the way we have been training is similar to last year. Last year, we did get pretty beat up. I'm not sure if we went as much in terms of quantity as last year, but our quality has been the best since I have been here. The way we have been swimming as a team is a lot better. We have just progressed. It seems to be working a whole lot better."

On acclimating to the time change for Beijing:
"We have a year and a half to train and get prepared for Beijing. If that isn't enough time, I don't know what is."

On the World Championships not being in the summer:
"The only thing that will be different is the break that we will have to allocate to other meets this summer. Now, it gives us a chance to swim more meets in a row and do a circuit. Just get some racing in, and not just that one big race. I think that will benefit us. When you focus on that one race so much, you don't do much until then."

On whether his winning streak in the 200 back adds any pressure:
"I don't see it as pressure. I just look at it as one year at a time. I just try to get better and better. People have been starting to step up, and that is motivation for myself. I know that one time will come when I can't go any faster. If I reach 10 years before then, I might call for retirement."

On the dominance of the U.S. men's team
"We have had a certain amount of experience, and that helps. A lot of these swimmers have been around since 2001. If you've done it once or twice, you can do it again. After that, it is staying consistent. Getting over breaking the ice is the hardest thing."

On whether a lack of another tough team causes any lack of motivation:
"Australia will probably do really well, and there will be some good European teams. Just overall, our depth is getting better and better with our youth and experience. It is fun to be part of. I can sit back and watch a meet and enjoy myself."

On what he has told his team about swimming a major meet in Australia:
"I love that country. There is not much to really tell the team, except that the population is smaller than in California. A lot of what I tell people is to just soak it in. It is neat for us to go down there. We have a lot of young guys on the team that are going to enjoy the trip. It is such a swimming-loving country. It is fun to be in an atmosphere like that. A lot of people know what swimming is there. That is something we are trying to change in the U.S., but it is already there in Australia."

On whether Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer of all time:
"You could argue that Michael is the best swimmer of all time. I certainly do think he is one of the most well rounded as far as being complete. He is one of the most complete swimmers I have ever seen. I also remember watching Ian Thorpe swim, and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my entire life. It is so hard to tell. I look at a swimmer as what they do in the water is artistic. Some people have some of the most beautiful strokes you could see. As far as being a complete swimmer, you could argue Michael is the best swimmer of all time."

On the advantages and disadvantages of swimming in the Michael Phelps era:
"About 10 years ago, Tiger Woods came into golf and elevated everyone's game. So, everyone started trying to catch up to him. Michael has elevated swimming. When I broke a world record in the 200 back, I had some times I could relax. Then, he came around and pushed me. He's done that against about everyone he has swam against. He is an amazing swimmer and competitor, but our U.S. team hasn't really accepted giving first place to anyone. Swimming against Michael, you are going to have to earn a gold medal. But, no one has given that up. People realize that anyone can be something if you want it. Certainly, Michael has done something to the sport that hasn't been done in a long time."