The Morning Swim Show, Oct. 15, 2012: Bobby Savulich’s Athlete Approved Venture Working on Behalf of Pro Swimmers


PHOENIX, Arizona, October 15. ON today's edition of The Morning Swim Show Bobby Savulich talks about the goals of his new venture, called Athlete Approved.

Savulich, who has been working to help professional athletes financially while they continue traning, got Athlete Approved involved in Anthony Ervin's fundraising efforts for the World Cup tour, and will continue to use the company to help keep pro swimmers financially stable through the sale of swimming-related products and services. He also hints that a second running of his Pro Dual Meet is in the works, with the format still undecided. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Morning Swim Show Transcripts
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Jeff Commings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Monday, October 15th, 2012. I am your host Jeff Commings. Bobby Savulich has been working hard in the past year to help struggling post graduate athletes are in a living while training starting with the professionals only meet last year and now with the website called athleteapproved.com. His latest effort has helped Anthony Ervin raise some money on his travels on the World Cup Circui,t and Bobby Savulich is here in the FINIS Monitor from Ann Arbor, Michigan to talk about it. Bobby, good to see you again how are you today?

Bobby Savulich: Doing well, how are you Jeff?

Jeff: I am doing excellent. Thanks. So let's start with this involvement that Athlete Approved has with Anthony Ervin. How did you and Anthony kind of get together with this?

Bobby: Yeah, well Athlete Approved's Mission is to support Olympic hopefuls by providing ideas, techniques, products they approve. I was a professional swimmer myself, just retired a couple of months ago after the Olympic Trials, and now I have been — I'm not going to lie, enjoying that a little bit. I have about twice the energy and have the grocery bill, but I was there. I know what Anthony is going through because you know I am not going to lie, I applied for hundreds of grants and scholarships and was denied 99% of them, so there is a need for funding for professional swimmers and Anthony put up this video requesting help and I thought that that was you know really great of him and you know very humble to put something like that out there. It is not easy to ask for help when you need it, but myself and you know my business partner Mike Bottom and our company Athlete Approved are in a position where we are able to reach out and created a $1,000 matching program where people could donate money to Anthony and we would match up to a thousand dollars and we reached that goal really quickly actually. It took about 4 days. So really happy that people out there stepped up and contributed to this great cause and you know we were thrilled to be able to help Anthony. We were probably going to donate $1,000 even if we didn't have it matched, but people stepped off and we had some to continue to do that, contribute to these professional swimmers trying to make the Olympics and compete at that elite level.

Jeff: Yeah, obviously this worked, not only did you meet your donation match, but Anthony got his $10,000 goal so is this something that Athlete Approved might get involved within a future tried to you know race money for you know swimmers to be able to travel around the world to world cup or any other kind of meet?

Bobby: Yeah, of course, I mean Anthony was the one guy that put himself out there and straight up kind of asked for it which is you know in my mind you know really courageous of him and hats off to him. I kind of have a really you know profound, I have a pretty cool story about Anthony. I never really knew him too well, he made his comeback and my Coach Mike Bottom was 100% certain that he will make the Olympic team.Mike coached him at Cal and was his coach in 2000 Olympics when Anthony and Gary tied for the gold medal, but started to get to know Anthony throughout the Grand Prix series over this last year and he was just you know really easy to talk to, really down to Earth guy and when I was in the ready room for the 100 free semifinals at the Olympics trials, it was the biggest race of my life. And you know I am not going to lie I can get a little tense, little bit nervous for some of my races and sitting in the ready room with Anthony and just kind of looking around at everyone in my heat know was in the heat with guys like Lochte and Grevers and Lezak and I am just like, “Man, everyone except for one other person in this heat is not only an Olympian but an Olympic gold medalist.” I happen to just take a seat next to Anthony and we were just kind of talking just you know talking about you know not swimming actually and it really just calmed me down and really helps me get in a relaxed state of mind. So when it was time to step up for the race I came out, saw 20,000 people and was just really excited and really relaxed and I felt like just having that calming force of Anthony in the room with me really helped me approach that race in a positive mindset and the story ends where I got 8th place in my heat. I was the last one to finish. Anthony was the second to last but that is not the point of the story. The point of the story is that I was able to go up into my last race, what I had been training for my whole life and I was relaxed. I enjoyed it. It was a really positive experience, something that I will never forget and definitely credit Tony for kind of having that, you know being that coming first from a ready room and something that is really small. Didn't even realize he was doing it, but it is just one of those you know short interactions that someone could have with you and I really you know meaningful and impactful.

Jeff: And now you are getting up to kind of pay him back for that.

Bobby: Yeah, of course and you know we are hopefully, actually we are going to be helping more athletes in the future. When people come to our website and they check out the videos and see the ideas and techniques for doing and buy products, the profits for some of the proceeds are going back to these athletes helping them out you know they provide us with the best products that they are using. We only provide elite and Olympic level ideas, techniques and products and we get back to them by sporting financially and it has been taking of. It has – we just launched it during the Olympic trials and it is really starting to get going. I kind of made a decision about a month ago whether I was kind of maybe take another job, give up on this and take a job that would become the safe route but you know I really believe in this and the athletes are behind it and the people out there have been coming to the website and doing things like supporting Anthony and I have been receiving a ton of support you know from you guys, one of them bringing me on the show, I appreciate that and it has been really neat because when the company started I kind of had to go out and approach these companies and ask, “Hey, this is what I am trying to do, would you mind if we sell your product on our site.” Now what is happening is people are coming to us saying, “Hey, we really like what Athlete Approved is doing. We like the idea and you try out our product and see if it is athlete approved.”So we will do a testing process and we don't just put anything up on there. We have a very high standard and we have had to turn a few folks down, but we have also created in terms of really good partnerships.

Jeff: Now, how many athletes do you help with this funding is the one question and second of all, do you approach an athlete and say, “We want to help you,” or do they come to you and say, “You know we would like to be a part of Athlete Approved.”

Bobby: It is kind of, it kind of works both ways. Right now, it is you know like I said just launched a few months ago. Hopefully down the road we will be able to support you know many athletes as many as possible, and you know it has kind of started off where we are supporting guys a little bit financially. It is not you know anything crazy just yet, but I hope in the future it is going to be more substantial if we get more support from our viewership, but it has been really growing and we receive a ton of support from people. So sky is the limit. We are in the process of developing something we are calling virtual coaching where people from around the world can submit videos of themselves swimming and have a critique by a guy like you know Peter Vanderkaay or Coach Mike Bottom and you know someone from anywhere global that they had basically videotaped themselves and send it to us. We are developing cutting-edge software that helps us you know do a voiceover. You could draw a lines on the video. You can slow it down, freeze it. It is pretty cool stuff and hopefully it would just be another way to help these guys train for an Olympics just you know have a little bit of employment, a little bit of money.

Jeff: Well it sounds like it got a lot of irons in the fire there and we know that Mike Bottom is always full of ideas, so I am sure it is a great partnership you guys have.

Bobby: Yeah, I definitely kind of don't mess it up to help you know Mike Bottom and the other Assistant Coach at Michigan Mark Hill and our web developer is actually a guy named Kevin Doak, I believe you actually swam against him Jeff in the Masters Nationals. He is not only great with all the web development stuff but he is also National Master — World Record holder and American Record Holder so he has got quite a few little, quite a few tools in his tool bag.

Jeff: That is interesting Mike — Kevin is a great guy. So I see behind you the poster for that pro dual meet that you had last November, is there a plan to have a second one?

Bobby: Yeah, well we are actually kind of in the talks of getting on this again. Been having conversations with a few pretty big players in our sport so definitely keep you in the loop and that is kind of just another way to keep growing the sport you know help some guys out just race in a different way. Show swimming in a different light, make it you know a really exciting short meet where only professionals are swimming. I really like the dual meet format personally, but wouldn't be afraid to maybe experiment and maybe a skins match or I mean really no reason to put a limit on it. You know, anything is possible.

Jeff: Well I know that the buzz around that first meet was really high and everybody is really excited about it so we are all anxious to see if you can – well I think you could pull off a second. We are just kind of anxious to see when it will happen.

Bobby: Yeah, no doubt I kind of just need to just get on it and I mean it kind of just goes to show if you are determined and have a good team around you which I certainly you know keep it, anything is possible and I just want it to be possible without you know people who have helped me a long of a ton of support for my family and friends so I really appreciated that and wouldn't be here without them.

Jeff: Well, Bobby looks like you got a great start to your AthleteApproved.com and we look forward to seeing how much it grows in the future and thanks again for joining us today.

Bobby: Yeah, I appreciate that Jeff. I know Anthony put out that challenge of his to try and raise some money for the World Cup. I have actually been challenged by a few of my buddies to create my — a little challenge of my own to see if I could get to the Golden Goggles this year. I have never been. I heard it is a great event and if any of those Olympians need a date, I am your guy.

Jeff: Well I am sure you will get a few tweets, calls or whatever messages – I am sure anybody wouldn't mind having you doing them so it is a fun event and definitely one not to be missed. Well good luck to your there Bobby and with everything else and we will catch up down the road.

Bobby: Right, thanks for having me on Jeff.

Jeff: No problem. All right so that is Bobby Savulich joining us in the FINIS Monitor today and that is going to do it for today's show. I am Jeff Commings and as always we invite you to join us at SwimmingWorld.com on Facebook or on Twitter to catch up with the latest news. Thanks for watching.

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