2019 In The Mirror: Top 15 Swimming World Video Interviews of Year In The United States

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Isabel Ivey, Katie McLaughlin, Amy Bilquist and Abbey Weitzeil had one of the best interviews of 2019. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Swimming World Interviews of the Year – United States

2019 has been a great year for the sport of swimming. With less than a year to go until the 2020 Olympic Trials and Olympic Games, we decided to take a trip down memory lane to commemorate the 15 best interviews of the year 2019 from pools across the United States.

These interviews were selected for their messages and lessons learned. Even professional swimmers still learn something new every single day. Each of these provide insight into how to deal with adversity as well as how to stay positive in the face of disappointment.

15. Amy Bilquist, US Nationals

Bilquist talks us through her national title at Stanford this summer as she won the 100 backstroke for her first career national title. She goes through her tumultuous year and how she debated if she even wanted to keep swimming because she kept getting injured. Ultimately she decided to keep going and it led to great success for her in the summer despite the fact she had a broken finger just two months prior.

Why is it good? It shows how important it is to trust the process and stay patient even when things are not going your way all the time. Bilquist wanted to give up but she felt the support of her family and teammates and that pushed her to success in the pool.

14. Natalie Coughlin, ISL Indianapolis

Coughlin goes through her first swim meet back since the 2016 Olympic Trials as she made her debut at the International Swimming League in Indianapolis with the DC Trident at 37-years-old. Coughlin, who just had a baby not too long ago, shared why she decided to come back in the new league to swim the 50 back and talked about her goals and expectations for the meet.

Why is it good? Coughlin is so well-spoken and speaks honestly about why she initially declined to participate in the meet and why she was so nervous before the meet started for just a 50 back.

13. Dean Farris, NCAA 100 back

Farris discusses becoming the first NCAA champion from Harvard in 30 years as he won the 100 back national title for the Crimson. Farris spoke about what it meant to see Harvard in the top 10 heading into the last day and why it meant so much to him to put them on the national stage. He also talks about is confidence coming into the meet in the 100 back and why he felt like he had a chance to win.

Why is this good? Farris speaks confidently about why he wanted to do the 100 back because he thought he had a shot to win it this year. A lot of swimmers and athletes struggle with their own self-confidence and Farris knew that he had put in the work this year and he had a plan all year to do the 100 back instead of the 200 free and it paid off in a national title.

12. Ryan Lochte, US Nationals

Lochte talks about his 200 IM win at US Nationals and said “it didn’t feel good at all” because the race hurt so much. The 35-year-old talked about how having a family really caused him to grow up and treat his swimming much more seriously so he can achieve his goals.

Why is this one good? It shows how much Lochte has come since not only the Rio scandal but how he is trying to erase his “party boy” mantra that he held for so many years when he was the best swimmer in the world. Now he is 35 and has two kids and has really had to mature in order to maintain his status among the world’s elite.

11. Annie Lazor, Knoxville Pro Swim Series

Lazor went through her surprise of swimming a lifetime best time in the 100 breaststroke at the Knoxville Pro Swim Series in January. She talked about her journey and how she initially retired after the 2016 Olympic Trials but described her path to how she ended up at Indiana and training with the post grad group in Bloomington.

Why is this one good? It was four months before she swam the fastest time in the world for 2019 in the 200 breaststroke at the Bloomington Pro Swim Series and it was a nice precursor to the incredible year that Lazor has had. She has a great story and she proves that you don’t have to settle for a disappointing ending to your career and that it is possible to take a long mental break from the sport and come back better than ever.

10. Beata Nelson, NCAA

Nelson talks about how she fed off watching two NCAA records on Friday night in Austin before she went and won the 100 back with a new NCAA record herself, also lowering the American record in the process that Regan Smith had taken from her a couple weeks prior. Nelson said why she felt like the 100 back win meant more to her than the 200 IM the previous night and why she loves swimming at the Texas pool.

Why was this good? Nelson also went through how she ripped a suit before the 100 back final and had to scramble to put on a new one in time for the event. She talked about how she had to stay calm during the process and not panic even when it was easy to do so, and she also said that the new suit she was wearing was “just a suit” and it doesn’t make a swimmer or make a swim.

9. Felix Auböck, NCAA

Auböck speaks passionately about how he was able to recover from his disappointing swim in the 500 at NCAAs to win the 1650 on the last day. Auböck talks about the love he felt from his teammates at Michigan when they supported him after a devastating poor swim in the 500 to tell him to keep his head up and focus on closing the meet out on a good note.

Why was it good? Not every meet is going to go 100% according to plan and Auböck did a good job of explaining how he was able to get his mind in a better place to attack the 1650. He knew he put the work in during the season and he really really wanted to win after getting second two years in a row. It goes to show that you have to trust your training and leave your bad swims in the past so you can have better swims to finish the meet.

8. Dave Durden, Daniel Carr, NCAA

Durden and Carr go through what happened that led to Carr being granted a re-swim in the 100 back preliminaries at NCAAs, and how he mentally refocused to attack the second swim. Carr showed a lot of maturity as a sophomore by focusing on just one swim at a time with the 200 medley relay prelim swim and then 30 minutes later having to swim the 100 back again. It could have broke him but he showed great poise in the situation and ultimately went a best time and got into the A-Final.

Why was it good? The theme with a lot of these interviews is overcoming adversity. Durden talks about “controlling the controllables” and an official having a brain fart by not taking out the backstroke wedge is out of Carr’s control but he stayed calm throughout the process and just took it one swim at a time and didn’t overthink what had happened.

7. Hannah Moore, Open Water Nats

Hannah Moore talks about how she was able to shake off getting disqualified in the 10K at the Open Water Nationals in May to qualify for the World Championships in the 5K by finishing second among the Americans. Moore had initially finished third in the 10K two days prior but was disqualified for receiving two red cards during the race for interfering with other swimmers. That squashed her qualification for the 25K at Worlds and had lost that opportunity to swim at her first World Championships. But ultimately she put that behind her to finish second in the 5K at Nationals to solidify her place on the Worlds team in that event.

Why was it good? Sticking with the theme of overcoming adversity, this interview was particularly good because Moore received devastating news in the 10K when she thought she qualified for Worlds in the 25K only to find out she had actually been disqualified during the race. She talked about how she was able to rebound mentally from that disappointment to ultimately get on the Worlds team in the 5K two days later.

6. Delaney Duncan, NCAA

Duncan went through the emotions of finishing second place in the final 100 breast of her career at NCAAs. Duncan said she would retire after NCAAs and wanted to go out on the best note possible for her and she finished second behind Lilly King. She talked about how much it meant to her to finish that way and how she was trying not to cry on the podium.

Why was it good? Duncan talks about all the obstacles she had to face during the school year and how she was able to overcome those to get to finishing second at NCAAs. She said she wanted to leave it all in the pool and when she saw she had got second, a rush of emotions hit her and then it started to sink in.

5. Texas men, NCAA

John ShebatTownley HaasAustin Katz and Jordan Windle take us through Texas’ last night at NCAAs in their home pool where Shebat won the 200 back, Windle won platform diving, and the Longhorns won the 400 free relay to close out the meet. The guys pointed out the positives in the meet and discussed what they did well despite having their national title winning streak snapped after four straight seasons.

Why was it good? Even though Texas did not achieve their goal of a national title, they were still happy with the good things they had done in the meet and were proud of what they had accomplished, despite finishing second. This is a good lesson for all swimmers that even though you may not achieve your end of season goals, it is still important to be positive about what you did accomplish.

4. Abbey Weitzeil, Amy Bilquist, NCAA

Weitzeil and Bilquist talk about how much the Thursday night of NCAAs meant to them and their team when they won the 200 free and 400 medley relays for the Golden Bears as well as an American record from Weitzeil in the 50 free. Weitzeil and Bilquist had had frustrating years the last couple years but it seemed like that finally changed in 2019 as Weitzeil finally broke the American record in the 50 and also won her first individual NCAA title. Bilquist finally got into the A-Final in the 50 free and also got back the 200 free relay title that she had won her freshman and sophomore year but lost as a junior.

Why was it good? Weitzeil expressed her disappointment in missing her goal time of a 20 point in the individual 50 free but still showed positivity in swimming a best time. A lot of young swimmers get upset when they don’t reach a certain goal time even but it is important to celebrate personal bests when they happen. Bilquist also had a good quote when talking about Kathleen Baker when she said that “it’s not filling a gap because no one is Kathleen” and that the team lost more than just points when Baker decided to go pro because she was a great teammate. But despite all of that, they were still focused on themselves and having fun at the meet and not worrying about what Stanford and the other teams were doing.

3. Breeja Larson, Nationals

Larson talked about how much she has changed as a swimmer in the last few years as she won her first National title in five years in the 100 breaststroke this August. Larson discussed how she struggled to find consistency in her swimming career while she juggled real-world jobs as well as a professional swimmer. She really put into perspective how much the 100 breast National title meant to her moving forward.

Why was it good? Larson was very honest about how she went from being an Olympian in 2012 to not making the team in 2016 and what she did to find confidence in herself in the pool again. She talked about how important it was for her to take a break in swimming so she could mentally refocus and re-evaluate what she wanted out of the sport.

2. Dana Vollmer, Nationals

Vollmer swam the final race of her career in the prelims of the 100 butterfly at US Nationals and she reflected on her career. She talked about what it meant to finish her career on her own terms and the emotions of seeing her long-time coach Teri McKeever and her Cal teammates after the race.

Why was it good? Vollmer was at peace with the fact she retired before the 2020 Olympic Trials and said she didn’t think she had it in her anymore to chase a fourth Olympic team. Vollmer was in good spirits and seemed very content about the way her career ended and was ready to focus on the next chapter of her life.

1. Cal 400 free relay, NCAA

Izzy Ivey, Katie McLaughlin, Amy Bilquist and Abbey Weitzeil get our top spot for the best interview of the year for their unfiltered emotions from winning the 400 free relay on the final night of NCAAs. Weitzeil talked us through what happened the night before when she had to get pulled out of the pool in the 200 medley relay causing her to have to wear a brace on her arm on the last day in the 100 free and 400 free relay. The Golden Bears set the NCAA record and finished second in the meet to rival Stanford, but the emotions of the incredible weekend were shown by the four swimmers.

Why was it good? Weitzeil credited her teammates for giving her the strength to swim on the final day through the pain and giving her a chance to win the 400 free relay. Not to mention there were some great quotes throughout the interview where Bilquist tearfully said “it felt like we won” the meet and that was a feeling they were chasing for four years, and Ivey compared McLaughlin, Weitzeil and Bilquist to her “cool aunts.”