The Morning Swim Show, Oct. 25, 2011: California’s Nolan Koon Talks About Current Season; Plays “Are You Smarter Than Nathan Adrian?”

PHOENIX, Arizona, October 25. TODAY'S edition of The Morning Swim Show features a conversation with California senior Nolan Koon.

Koon joins the Morning Swim Show to talk about the Golden Bears attempting to defend their NCAA Division I Championship from a year ago. Koon talks about his mission to be better this year, as he has assumed a senior leadership role with the team. He also plays "Are You Smarter Than Nathan Adrian?" – a game to be featured in a future interview. Watch the full show in the video player below and visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Show Transcript: (Note: This is an automated service where some typos and grammatical errors may occur.)

Peter Busch: Welcome to The Morning Swim Show for Tuesday, October 25th, 2011. I'm your host, Peter Busch. In the FINIS Monitor today, we'll talk to Nolan Koon. He is trying to lead the Cal Bears to back-to-back NCAA titles. Nolan joins us right now in the FINIS Monitor from Berkeley, California. Nolan, welcome to the Morning Swim Show. How are you?

Nolan Koon: I am doing well. Thanks for having me, Peter.

Peter Busch: How is the senior year going?

Nolan Koon: Oh, it's going great. It's going. It's busy, busier. It gets busier every year and especially your senior year, so –

Peter Busch: You're already going 54.8 in the 100 breaststroke. Holy cow!

Nolan Koon: I did. That did happen last week. That was good. I'm pretty happy with that.

Peter Busch: Well, Damir is gone. You're the man now.

Nolan Koon: Dugie is gone but you know, he is not gone. He is gone from our, like, competing squad. He's graduated, but I mean he is training with us every day, so he is making me better. I'm trying to make him better so it's great still having him around.

Peter Busch: I heard Coach Durden say that, "Nolan is on a mission." What is the mission exactly?

Nolan Koon: To be better than last year, I guess, would be how I would put it. I had a good last season. NC is up and down. It's always a rollercoaster but I guess really, my mission is just to be better and whatever that means, I guess.

Peter Busch: You got second in the 100 breaststroke last year. You're going sub-52 but you can't get on the relays because you got Damir, the NCAA record holder doing the 50 and 100 in front of you. It must feel nice to finally be the guy on the relay.

Nolan Koon: Yes, yes. Finally, I guess I'm going to have that opportunity so I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to that. You're just going to get used to it throughout the dueling season and then, yes, when Pac-10s and NCs come so it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm really looking forward to it.

Peter Busch: Ever a moment when you're kind of the backup quarterback in that sense, when you're looking around, going, "I could be the guy on any one of these other teams?"

Nolan Koon: You know, I honestly have never thought of it that way. I always regarded Dugie as he is – you know he is better so he is going to be that guy. But people have told me, like, "How does it feel to, yes, kind of being that backup quarterback situation?" and honestly, I don't mind it. I'm lucky to have people like Dugie. The breaststroke group that we had, it was like Damir, Martti Aljand, Martin Liivamagi, myself. It's just I couldn't be as good as I am right now without them so I'm lucky in that sense, I guess.

Peter Busch: We haven't had too many years where we get the same person win the 100 and the 200 breaststroke at NCAAs. It happened but it doesn't happen too often.

Nolan Koon: Yes.

Peter Busch: I think you could pull that off. Is that the ultimate goal for you?

Nolan Koon: I mean yes. Like I said, I want to be better. And I think last year's 200 breaststroke, that was another rollercoaster at the NC, the NC meet. But I think I can be better, and if that puts me in a position to be, like, top three, top two, like winning both, that would be great. That would be ideal. So I mean we'll see what happens, right?

Peter Busch: How about the team in general? Is it realistic that you guys can repeat?

Nolan Koon: That's a tough question. We're not trying to do what last year's team did. It's a different team, different group of guys. We have, like, 15 returners and I think along with my own personal goals of being better, everyone wants to be better. I don't want to go 51.6. I want to be faster. My roommate Martin, he doesn't want to go, like, 1:43 in the 200 IM. He wants to be better. Tom wants to be better in both butterflies and the backstroke. So we're kind of taking it from that perspective and I mean like I said, wherever that takes us, if it's repeat that, that would be great. That would be ideal. So we're just going to go and try to be better. I mean we're fortunate we have a really good freshman class coming in so those guys, they are going to do something special and I think everything is going to be good. It's going to be a good year.

Peter Busch: So everybody trying to get better individually and then the end result would be the team is better in general.

Nolan Koon: I think yes, that's how I would look at it, trying to look at it right [cross-talking] –

Peter Busch: Do you like swimming long course?

Nolan Koon: Do I like swimming long course? Yes. It's not – I don't want to say it's new to me. I really enjoy it. I train a lot of short course so to do something different is, it's always fun, and I mean it really is – it's not that different from short course but it is a different style of racing and I think it's fun to compete in that way, just like the world does, I guess.

Peter Busch: Are you trying to make the Olympic team next year? And I know everybody is trying to make the Olympic team [cross-talking] –

Nolan Koon: I know. Who is not trying, right?

Peter Busch: Do you feel like it's a realistic goal? Because you're obviously good enough but I don't know, sometimes long course is different than short course for people.

Nolan Koon: I would definitely say it's one of my goals. I'm kind of, I don't want to say, like, putting it on the back burner or in, like, my rearview mirror right now because my obligation is to my team right now as a senior and kind of a leader in that position. So I'm looking at it like Pac-10s, NCs, and then I'm going to refocus on long course and Olympic trials and making a — to go as well as possible. But I mean it's definitely in my mind, I guess. And I don't want to, like, count myself out, you know. And I think, like, I get better racing short course every time than when I race long course. The more I'm going to improve, the better I'm going to get at it. So I'm just going to keep doing that and see how it goes.

Peter Busch: What do you study?

Nolan Koon: I am a political economy major so that's what I study. So that's – would you like me to explain it? [Laughs]

Peter Busch: Sure.

Nolan Koon: It's kind of unique to Berkeley. It's like a study of the relationships between politics and economics in modern societies, and it looks at domestic and international markets. Not many people know about the major so I find myself explaining it a lot.

Peter Busch: Well, it sounds like it's plenty relevant to today.

Nolan Koon: It is. It is pretty relevant so it's always fun.

Peter Busch: So do you watch like the presidential debates and call the guys out, yell at the TV when they say an answer that you think is unrealistic?

Nolan Koon: There are a lot of debates. Fortunately, I have my father to talk to about that so he really likes to keep me relevant. But I'm trying to get as much rest as humanly possible. And yes, when I'm not watching the TV or presidential debates, football games, what not, I'm going to be sleeping so –

Peter Busch: So recently, at a meet back East, some of the girls who work here at Swimming World played a little game with Nathan Adrian, "Are You Smarter than Nathan Adrian?" And he did pretty well but it sounds like with what you study, you'd probably do even better.

Nolan Koon: No, no. You know, Nathan, Nathan is a smart guy. I was actually talking to him. He said that he played that with you guys where you had asked him a question about like a giraffe, what color is a giraffe's tongue and how he got that. I was really impressed with Nathan. So I don't know if I would be much smarter than Nathan.

Peter Busch: We're just promoting the big show that's going to come out here on Swimming World TV so – all right, just a couple that he got wrong. One, how much of the earth is covered in water?

Nolan Koon: It's not 70. Are we talking percentage?

Peter Busch: Yes.

Nolan Koon: Is it more than 70?

Peter Busch: I'm asking you [laughs].

Nolan Koon: Well, do I not get an A, B, C, or D? [Laughs] I know. Let's just go with – what did Nathan say? Do I get to know?

Peter Busch: He said 80 percent.

Nolan Koon: Oh okay. I would – ooh. And I thought I was going to go with 70 but –

Peter Busch: Seventy is right, Nolan.

Nolan Koon: Okay. Okay. Seventy was my go-to. Take that, Nathan.

Peter Busch: Go with your gut.

Nolan Koon: [Laughs] All right.

Peter Busch: One more because this one was too much fun. What are all the planets in the solar system?

Nolan Koon: What did Nathan say?

Peter Busch: [Laughs] He got them all except for one.

Nolan Koon: Well, Pluto is not a planet anymore.

Peter Busch: Well, that's good. But he still missed another one.

Nolan Koon: What did he miss? Like Neptune? Uranus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Earth. Did I name one that he missed already?

Peter Busch: No, you still haven't named it either.

Nolan Koon: Oh, I'm so bad at this, man. Just give it to me.

Peter Busch: I think he missed Venus.

Nolan Koon: Venus. Did I not say that?

Peter Busch: He got Mercury though. Did you get Mercury?

Nolan Koon: I don't know. I don't think I said it.

Peter Busch: I don't think you — you were way off on that one.

Nolan Koon: I was going to [cross-talking] – yes. Thanks for that though. Thanks for that.

Peter Busch: Planetary science is maybe not your thing.

Nolan Koon: Over my head, right?

Peter Busch: Well, that's all right. You were good on the geology and you knew how much [cross-talking] –

Nolan Koon: Yes. I got the 70 percent.

Peter Busch: You got the water part which is pretty good because you're a swimmer so –

Nolan Koon: You know it, right? You know.

Peter Busch: Just don't be one of those guys that swims from, like, Hawaii to California. I know that is, like, the next open water extreme challenge that's [cross-talking] –

Nolan Koon: No. No, thank you. I'll stick to 100s and 200s. I think that's my safe bet so –

Peter Busch: Well, Nolan, this was fun, man. Thanks for joining us. Good luck in your senior year.

Nolan Koon: No, thanks a lot for having me [laughs].

Peter Busch: All right. That's Nolan Koon, smart guy there at Cal, joining us in the FINIS Monitor today. That's it for today's show. I'm Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.

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