Michael Andrew On Cusp Of Realizing Greatest Career Achievement – Olympian

michael-andrew-

Michael Andrew On Cusp Of Realizing Greatest Career Achievement – Olympian

Officially, work remains. The amount? Somewhere on either side of 58 seconds, dependent on the crispness of his performance. But in less than a minute on Monday night, Michael Andrew – barring an all-time disaster – will fulfill a career goal that has been in construction for more than a decade. He will soon be called an Olympian and bound for next month’s COVID-delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Ahead of this week’s United States Olympic Trials, Andrew was considered one of the safer bets to earn a Team USA nod. That status was derived from Andrew’s multi-event schedule, a program that offered qualifying opportunities in the 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley and 50 freestyle – to name his primary trio of options. If one attempt did not work out, another would be available – albeit with increased pressure.

It is not going to matter.

The 100 breaststroke is a first-and-second-day event at the Olympic Trials (and Games), and the way Andrew has flourished through two rounds has made him a given for a berth when the final is held in less than 24 hours at the CHI Health Center in Omaha. Already, he has set American records of 58.19 and 58.14 in the prelims and semifinals. His next closest pursuer is Nic Fink at 58.50, and it’s another .58 back to third seed Andrew Wilson.

So, Andrew will almost surely be an Olympian in a matter of hours, exactly what has been anticipated from the 22-year-old since he first emerged as an age-group standout. It is tradition in this sport to routinely tab teenage females as can’t-miss stars. Debbie Meyer. Mary T. Meagher. Tracy Caulkins. Janet Evans. Missy Franklin. Katie Ledecky. They have all been identified as such and managed to meet their billing.

And while Bob Bowman once met with Michael Phelps’ parents and informed them that their 11-year-old son would one day rule the swimming world, those types of predictions are far more unlikely to come to fruition for male teens. Now, though, Andrew is on the verge of being counted as a success story from that realm.

As Andrew made his way up the age-group ranks, he accomplished everything. Not only did he set more than 100 National Age Group (NAG) records, he broke them in every stroke and across a variety of distances. This kid was going to be one of the sport’s best-known names. Even if he wanted to ease some of the hype, it was out of his control.

The Michael Andrew story, for the sport’s dedicated fans, is well known. For those unaware, here’s a quick recap. He has been a devoted follower of Ultra Short Race-Pace Training (USRPT). He has been trained by his father. He turned professional by the time he was 14 years old. He trained in a backyard pool in Kansas, until moving to California in 2018. Put it all together, and it was anything but a typical path.

For all the individuals who were eager to see Andrew emerge as an all-timer in the sport, just as many (maybe more?) waited for the day he would crumble. They said his decision to turn pro in his early teens robbed him of eventual collegiate training and that racing/life experience. They said USRPT would not get the job done in his quest for global excellence. They said he was a pure sprinter and, with the exception of the 50-meter freestyle, who cared what he did in a 50-meter stroke event.

“When I was younger, I enjoyed reading the comments section and seeing what people had to say,” Andrew said of his early notoriety. “A lot of times, it was snarky or negative or would break me down a little bit in terms of who I am as an athlete. And that’s people making judgments off of no basis. They didn’t know who I was. And then, it’s cool to see that over the years, as people got to know me, it’s turned more positive than negative. I never wanted to use negative criticism as a means to motivate myself when training. I definitely would feed off of it a lot of times in the right light, but I realized I had to stop kind of looking at it. As I obviously matured and got older, I realized that I don’t need to give any attention to what somebody so far out of my circle has to say because, ultimately, their input isn’t going to make a difference.”

There is no doubt that speed has defined aspects of his career. In the years of World Championships, he will be a medal factor in every 50-meter event. Yet, he has also demonstrated his worth in 100-meter distances and, as a combination of his multi-stroke talent, the 200 individual medley is a prime discipline.

What has made the difference for Andrew? It can be said that he stayed true to himself and the approach that his family adopted when they went all-in on his career. He has stuck with USRPT. His dad continues to guide his training. He speaks about the importance of God in his life. And he races the schedule he wants. Simply, he is at peace with the way he has, does and will continue to operate.

Monday night should be his coronation.

However long it takes Michael Andrew to negotiate the final of the 100 breaststroke, recognize that time as a defining period of his career – but not the only defining moment. Also recognize how he handled the pressure and expectations dropped on his shoulders. Recognize how his success has been a family affair. Recognize how this has been a moment long awaited.

And then, tip your cap. Michael Andrew deserves it.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Nicole Flynn

    We have always loved watching Michael Andrew swim. Years ago, he swam at an Oklahoma meet with our kids and then a year or so later at a Sectionals meet (where he broke many records). Both times, he was so generous with his time and encouragement to all of the young swimmers. We will be lifelong fans
    and cheering for him at Finals tonight!

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