The Morning Swim Show, Sept. 23, 2011: In and Out of the Pool, Markus Rogan Has Big Goals for 2012

PHOENIX, Arizona, September 23. MARKUS Rogan will be a busy man in 2012, and on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show the Austrian talks about his goals in and out of the pool.

Rogan hopes to be one of six people gunning for the bronze medal in the 200 IM at next year's Olympics, after finishing fifth at world championships. Rogan talks about training for the event, why he's giving up backstroke racing and what lies ahead for the school he helped start in Ethiopia. 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: This is the Morning Swim Show for Friday, September 23rd, 2011. I'm your host Peter Busch. In the FINIS monitor today, we'll talk to Markus Rogan. He's a two time Olympic silver medalist, a philanthropist, and one of the funniest people we have ever had on the show. Markus joins us right now in the FINIS monitor from Los Angeles. Markus, welcome to the Morning Swim Show. How're you doing?

Markus Rogan: [Audio glitch] from training but, you know, that's the life.

Peter Busch: I see you're at the pool.

Markus Rogan: Yeah.

Peter Busch: I thought you didn't like to spend any more time at the pool than you absolutely had to?

Markus Rogan: Actually, you know, I heard they have these things. I think they're like plays or they call them Games that are happening this year, so this year I'm gonna spend a little bit more time there.

Peter Busch: They're lightening it up for you there in L.A. Hey, how's the whole trying other strokes working out for you?

Markus Rogan: Well, I noticed this summer, you know, I swam at world championships. They've had the big meet where, like, the whole world came together in Shanghai. And after the butterfly, I was only two seconds behind so I'm really improving. I'm really gonna start — maybe next summer I'll be only a second and a half behind, you know, and maybe in eight years I'll be up with those guys.

Peter Busch: You almost medaled in that 200 IM. I'm impressed, man. I mean, we all knew you're a great backstroker, but you could medal next year.

Markus Rogan: Yeah, well, you'd hope so. I mean, I'm gonna try. The thing is it's a little difficult knowing that you'll be about a half a pool length behind Michael and Ryan. So I'm thinking — I called Nancy Kerrigan, she's unfortunately busy, so I'm fighting for the bronze medal.

Peter Busch: I think you mean you called Tonya Harding.

Markus Rogan: Yeah, I'm not that good at American history

.Peter Busch: Who do you think is gonna win between Michael and Ryan in that event?

Markus Rogan: Personally, I think Ryan's gonna go a little bit too much of a — he's gonna try too much to take over the world. He's gonna go for ridiculous number of medals and he'll be too tired from the 200 back right before because it's really, like, 45 minutes. So I'm pretty sure Michael can win.

Peter Busch: Do you consider doing the 100 and 200 back like you did in ‘04 and won the silver in both?

Markus Rogan: Yeah, I was thinking about that, you know, but I don't think I can win that either so I'd rather try something new. It's, you know, it's like when you get a new girlfriend, you'd rather go with her than go back to, like, an old squeeze.

Peter Busch: But, Peirsol was that maiden that you just couldn't beat and he's out of the mix now, so…?

Markus Rogan: Yeah, but there are so many new guys, you know. The sport is so young and I'm just — I'd like — I like the IM. It's really fun to train, you know, ‘cause you can do so many things. Peter Busch: Yeah, like all four strokes.

Markus Rogan: Yeah. I mean, yeah, you have to, actually, like it's illegal to do only three strokes. You have to do all four.

Peter Busch: Well, if they only did the back, breast, and free, you might win.

Markus Rogan: Yeah, I was petitioning that, you know, with the Brits but they said, no, we're gonna play by the rules.

Peter Busch: Hey, last time we spoke to you, you were getting ready for your trip to Ethiopia to visit the school that you co-founded. So on a more serious note, how was it?

Markus Rogan: Well, I think it might have been really the best thing I've ever done. You know, I think just — I'm paying for it now ‘cause I'm a little bit out of a shape ‘cause I really spent three weeks just in the middle of Africa teaching. But it really, like, it helped me get an amazing perspective. And I was just — you know, when you speak in front of the kids and you see that they wanna learn, it's unbelievable, you know.

Peter Busch: Tell us about who these kids are. I mean, I imagine it's about as poor as it gets, you know.

Markus Rogan: Well, we have — we're now — we quadrupled the charity in the last couple of years. We're now at 200 children. They're from the poorest neighborhoods in Addis Adabba. Actually, a couple of the kids lived on now in a cemetery. I mean, they're literary squatting there, you know. So we built in this summer. We finally finished it. We built them a small apartment complex and — but, in general, it's the poorest of the poorest. We're providing education and meals when they need it.

Peter Busch: That's incredible. What — I mean there's got to be some of the kids that really stood out to you and you think about a lot.

Markus Rogan: Well, we did. A lot of them stood out ‘cause, you know, they just see. They wanna learn so much, you know, like when we started, like, you know, I love sounding like I'm smart, so I taught them something that I thought I knew, which is African geography. Turns out I didn't know anything, but we just learned it together, you know. But there's this one girl Sian, she is, you know, she kept challenging me. And then she would go home and look up like random African capitals and quiz me the next morning, you know, like the capital of the Comoros Islands. I was like, what? But she looked it up and then she quizzed me and I was lucky to have the map close by so I kinda squinted over to find out what it was and it was Moroni. So I still remember that one.

Peter Busch: That's so neat. What do you want the future to look like for that school?

Markus Rogan: Well, the next, the big project that I've set my goal to, to raise 212,000 dollars by the time I start the Olympics. We wanna build a whole center now. We wanna build a center where they can really meet, where they can hang out. They can be safe, you know, where they can be free and just the kids, like, the kids that we want to develop into college students.

Peter Busch: Is it there, what you're doing there? I mean, how is it being perceived and recepted by — received by the town or the country for that matter?

Markus Rogan: Well, at first, you know, there were skeptical, gotta be honest, ‘cause we rolled in there and I, originally, I made a clear mistake. I walked in thinking, you know, I can change the world. But it took me probably first couple of weeks there and, you know, when I first there, to understand that I can't. I can only do so much. But then we just got down and we started teaching. Now I sent two teachers down from Stanford, and now, we actually — and I'm really proud of this — we got an award from the local government saying just thank you, thank you for all the things you're doing for our kids.

Peter Busch: Who knows, maybe someday it will have a pool and you can go back and –

Markus Rogan: You know what, we were thinking building a pool and I took them to a pool and they said, you know, ‘cause they are so excited to go swim and since it was like the newest thing and no one ever got to swim, that they pretend that they were good swimmers. And I said, okay, sure, let's all jump in. And we needed all the lifeguards to get them. So we're holding off on the pool just yet.

Peter Busch: I used to pretend to be a good swimmer.

Markus Rogan: Yeah, I still am doing that. I'm doing it professionally as matter of fact.

Peter Busch: Well, you're doing a heck of a job. Do you think you'll pretend to be a good swimmer for a lot longer or maybe just one more year?

Markus Rogan: You know, I'm not as old as I look, but I'm definitely getting up there, you know. So I'll probably — I really think I'll spend some more time in Africa after the Olympics and to really find out what I wanna do after. But, you know, I don't think I can answer the question completely before I actually swam in London.

Peter Busch: Well, thanks again for joining us, man. That's amazing what you're doing there for the kids in Ethiopia. And good luck with the whole figuring out how to put all four strokes together before next summer.

Markus Rogan: Thanks a lot.

Peter Busch: All right. That's Markus Rogan, truly one of the best guests we've ever had on the show joining us in the FINIS monitor. 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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