1) You swam for NAC back in the
90s. Can you tell us a little bit about your background/career at
of and bond with the swimming culture started with NAC. I
started when I was 5 or 6. I took swim lessons and started at
the local YMCA because my parents owned a boat and we were on the
lake on the weekends. I started with the lesson program and
started doing well early on. My parents moved me to NAC to
make sure I took advantage of the opportunity to be better.
Swimmers who are lucky enough to make it through the Nashville
program, whether they then go on to swim in college or
professionally, have something special they will carry with
them. I was lucky enough to be coached by John Morse for 5
years, but I had other great coaches that influenced the person I
have become. Amy Caulkins coached me for a p
time, and through her I also got to know her sister Tracy
Caulkins. Tracy went to Florida as well, and it was quite a
feeling catching up with her at an alumni event years later (she
travelled all the way from Australia at the time). I was
nowhere near in time to the start of the Nashville program, but
still knew my time at NAC provided me a connection to its roots.
2) Was there a specific swimming
moment (at practice, a certain meet or race, etc.) that helped you
make the decision to stick with NAC and see swimming through as far
as you did?
Morse had confidence in me to start with the senior group when I
was almost 13. Taking the risk in practice to put myself out
there and race the older swimmers was the best thing I could have
done. Based solely on age, I had no business training with
the people and finishing the practices ahead. I can actually
remember the specific practice racing a senior swimmer to the end
of the main set. Of course, that memory wouldn’t exist
if that senior swimmer (Kyle Rushe) wasn’t there to motivate
me to keep up the challenge. I remember trying for my senior
national cuts with the whole team standing over my lane
cheering. I would offer one piece of advice, though.
Looking back I had a personal limitation of needing to SEE the next
level before achieving it for myself. I wish I had more in me
to set a goal that was COMPLETELY beyond what had been done at the
time. I know Tracy Caulkins constantly fell short of her own
expectations even though she was (literally) the greatest swimmer
to have honored the sport … we need more of that!
3) You followed in Coach
Morse’s footsteps and went on to swim at the University of
Florida. Can you tell us about your experiences in Gainesville and
how NAC helped prepare you for that stage?
interesting that I ended up at Florida given Morse’s
connection. I do not remember him OVERTLY influencing me to
go to a particular school, but once I visited the campus there was
no question I would go. Morse though was extremely supportive
only in making the best decision for me, and looking back I can
only guess at the conversation he must have had behind the scenes
to make sure I had the opportunities I was afforded. He was
also the only coach who could have prepared me for Greg Troy.
While their personalities differ greatly, the training was
consistent right into college. I would never have been ready
for that program had it not been for Morse and NAC. Troy
started me in the distance IM group, which meant 90,000-100,000
yard weeks. That makes me sick to my stomach to think about
now but Morse had me ready.
college I chose Aerospace Engineering as my major. I picked
the major because I remembered it from the SAT/ACT tests.
Before we started, they have you fill out questions regarding what
would interest you in college. Aerospace was at the beginning
of the major list alphabetically….so I did not have to read
any further! But because of my time with Morse at NAC I did
not think for a second it would be a challenge. Whatever it
took, I could handle it.
every race from NCAA’s. The over-arching theme was that
I was ready for every race, even when I did not perform as I
wanted. I knew every time I stepped to the blocks that I had
done more to prepare. There was more I could during each
race, but I have no doubt I could not have been more physically
4) You mentioned that you swam at
UF with Ryan Lochte. He was even in your wedding! Can you tell us a
little bit about your friendship with him?
*I am not
sure where to start. He is like a little brother. He is
one of the most family-oriented, big-hearted people I have
met. He is THE swimmer I would pick to speak to the next
generation on what could be accomplished through swimming.
Most people would be shocked at how naturally talented he is.
It was shocking to me. He has the ability to see beyond the
achievements of even the greatest swimmers in the sport, and KNOWS
before every race: “I can do better.”
5) So you stayed down in Florida
after school to practice law and have started your own little
family with your wife and two little girls. Please tell us how you
met your wife and a little bit about your girls!
*The short version is that we meet while enjoying
a pleasant evening out in Gainesville. I was in law school
and she was starting her last year of college. While it
sounds cheesy, it is one of those where you know right away.
We have two fantastic daughters. I want to say I know how to
teach my daughters to swim, but I have little idea how to start at
“step 1.” Once they can swim and want to learn to
swim faster, we may have a different story. Luckily the
mother of a fellow Gator swimmer has a school down here so they
learned with her. We have a pool in the back yard and both
love to swim. We are in every weekend. My oldest is
almost 5 so just getting to the age where she starts to have
interest in after-school activities (and hopefully sports). I
absolutely want them to enjoy swimming.
6) Alright, just one more question!
Favorite NAC memory… Ready, go!
of NAC itself, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the opening
of the Sportsplex/Tracy Caulkins Natatorium. For the opening
ceremony, we kicked across the pool in formation with a massive
crowd excited about the new facility. It was amazing then to
have the majority of my swimming career in the same pool. I
remember the lead-up to my first national meet: getting together
with the team on a Sunday to get meet gear and talk about the week
ahead. I remember starting the day at 3:45am and getting home
after 7:00pm when I was 13 just to be better than I was the day
before. It is tough to pick a single memory, and the funny
memories sparked from tiny moments each day with the people going
through the experience too.