By By Bob Schaller//Correspondent | Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships has a special feel this year -- coming off not only the greatest U.S. Olympic swim performance in decades, but also because this year’s Nats serve as selections for Worlds. Factor in some faces who just missed last year’s Olympic team, many who are returning, and so many up-and-comers, and this year’s Nationals takes on an incredible vibe. One of those to watch is Texas’ Madisyn Cox, who just missed making the team in the 200 IM at Trials last year, and had a shot in a couple of other events as well. As she showed in Santa Clara last weekend though - winning the 200 breast, 200 IM and 400 IM, she’s forgotten last year’s Olympic Trials memories because she’s making better ones in 2017, as she explains in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
The Phillips 66 National Championships and World Championship Trials will be held June 27-July 1 at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis. Buy tickets online now.
1. What a huge weekend at Santa Clara -- what do you take from it above all?
Madisyn: Thank you, first of all. Honestly, it just gave me a lot of confidence.
2. What about heading into Phillips 66 National Championships?
Madisyn: I know where I can be and should be. So this meet showed me I am on track with what I have been thinking and talking about and working on with my coach (University of Texas head women’s coach Carol Capitani).
3. I thought your 200 breaststroke was the most impressive of your races, what surprised -- or delighted -- you the most?
Madisyn: Probably the 400 IM because I feel like that event can go two very different ways. If it had not gone well going into World Champ Trials it might have affected my confidence a little and I would not be as excited to race it. Now, with last weekend, I could not be more excited to race it at Indy.
4. So what did that great 200 breaststroke do for you?
Madisyn: The 200 breaststroke got the meet kind of rolling for me. It got me going and got my confidence up. And it felt really good. It got hard toward the end but I felt I was still able to keep my stroke together -- kept my technique where it needed to be.
5. That was a hard series of swims for one weekend, wasn’t it?
Madisyn: I mean, honestly this wasn’t even my hardest lineup. In Mesa a month or so ago I was doing a double every day including the 400 free, so this (Santa Clara) was a lighter load. And I felt like it was a good tune-up for the events I will focus on this summer. It was nice to hone in on those events.
6. I actually thought you racing the 400 free at Mesa was smart -- gives you a feel for racing that is different in the water, or was that the plan?
Madisyn: That’s exactly what it was. Racing is racing. You go out there in whatever the race is and you get great competition. I wanted to put myself in different challenges. You don’t want to always expect the same thing. I think the 400 free was definitely something where I didn’t know what to expect -- whatever happened, happened. That was good for the future. And I have the experience from that for how I felt and to help my mindset.
7. Being an All-American and Texas having a good NCAAs this year -- how important was that to you?
Madisyn: It was definitely very important. And it was more important for me to do it for my team and college than for myself. We were looking to come back from a tough year before, and we didn’t want to go through that again. We had bigger goals in mind. So the NCAA meet is all about the team. I swam in more (laughs) events than I could have imagined! The 100 breast, 100 free, 50 breast -- events I wasn’t comfortable in and wouldn’t do anywhere else, but I’d do it 200 times over again in a heartbeat for our team.
8. Still to make that jump up in the standings, especially as a senior, helped the program, didn’t it?
Madisyn: It really does. And this wasn’t a perfect meet for us -- it still had its ups and downs. But there is no perfect meet. Overall though, we couldn’t have been more pleased with how we (seniors) finished up. We were Carol’s first recruiting class, and this year’s NCAA represents where she’s brought this program.
9. How close did you and she get over the past four years with all the challenges you had to face?
Madisyn: I wouldn’t be this close to my goals or where I’ve gotten to in my development not just as a swimmer, but as a person, without Carol. I think the absolute world of her and anytime I can perform well to represent the program and all she’s done for me, I’m up for it.
10. Going from Lubbock to Austin, what was that like?
Madisyn: I still think Lubbock’s great. But in Austin, you could say that I have found a home. School is going well and I still have one full year left -- two semesters. I have always valued school, and I enjoy it at UT.
11. With many new and some familiar faces, and many like yourself who were very close at Olympic Trials, isn’t this year’s Phillips 66 Nationals a little bigger than most in a lot of ways?
Madisyn: I definitely think it’s working up to be a great meet. We have seen some great swims from everywhere in the country, whether it’s the Pro Swims or even local meets. This Nationals will definitely be one to remember.
12. You mentioned Carol -- how was that for you in terms of a “fit”?
Madisyn: I think I couldn’t have asked for a better relationship with my coach. She’s made me so much better, as in by leaps and bounds. There is nothing more I could have asked for. No more. And I am 100 percent excited about this program’s future. People are like, “Oh you didn’t get a trophy how hard is it going to be watching them get one when you are gone?” Honestly, not at all. I’ll be the number 1 fan there supporting them. There is nothing I want to see more. I can feel complete pride with what we did for the foundation here.
13. So you are a pro swimmer now, how weird is it to say that?
Madisyn: I guess it honestly hasn’t settled in that much yet. I have the same routine, practice and going to school. It hasn’t fully set in. It is definitely cool. But I’ll still stay humbled and grounded because you don’t let things go to your head. It is what it is, and I am very grateful, and will do all I can to make the most of it.
14. One of your close finishes at Trials last year was behind Maya, what did you learn from her races at the Olympics?
Madisyn: She’s an incredible person. Incredible competitor. There are so many ways to look up to her. She’s an ideal role model. I didn’t see many of her performances because I didn’t watch the Games. But the one I read about most was the 200 backstroke -- I think that overall provided the biggest inspiration. Katinka (Hosszu) was just untouchable going into it according to everything people wrote. Seeing Maya come up like that was amazing. I don’t think even she considered the 200 backstroke her best chance, so for her to do that under those circumstances speaks volumes about Maya.
15. What did you learn the most in your 4 years at UT and with what you went through with Olympic Trials?
Madisyn: Perspective. I definitely think my perspective has grown. I have lived through each trial and triumph, and it has shaped me in a way that has or will make me better. You take in all the ups and downs together and grow through the process. No matter how things are going, you are always growing and never complacent.
16. I remember the injuries and everything going back to your junior year, and even how all that affected you at Trials -- is that where part of the perspective growth comes to mind?
Madisyn: I am in a completely different place from my junior year to now. I think getting through all that just gives me more confidence. No matter what happens, I’ll be okay. I’ll be fine. That’s a freeing thought. When you put so much pressure, weight and your identity on one thing, it can torment you and paralyze you with fear. I know so many more things now. I want to make the World team, but I have so many other things that I also want to do. So I can go into this with a free, relaxed mindset knowing all I have to do is give my best and whatever happens, happens -- everything will be all right and it won’t be the end of the world.
17. You planning on 200 breast, 200 and 400 IM at Nationals?
Madisyn: I actually have the 200 free as well and it’s on the same day as the 200 breaststroke so what I am doing is kind of up for grabs. I might lean one way or another in the coming weeks. But definitely the 400 IM and 200 IM.
18. Does the IM help your breaststroke and freestyle more than you could even measure?
Madisyn: Oh, for sure. I barely do any breaststroke training at all, maybe one practice a week of pure breaststroke. And zero freestyle. But doing IM so much, you get that training. I could probably put together a decent 200 fly or 200 back just because of the grueling IM training. It’s really good for everything.
19. It’s hard to imagine how Santa Clara could have been better for you, but I bet you don’t feel that way, do you?
Madisyn: It definitely was not perfect. Definitely, there are a couple of places to go back and look to see what we can do better. My backstroke is something we are working on and the technique has gotten a lot better, but it has not come fully along to where we need it to be, so I’ll take that with me to work on the next few weeks or so. But I am pretty happy with my breaststroke and I did learn some things about my finish or how I should take it next time
20. You from freshman year to this year and even entering trials last year and Nationals this year with an incredible amount of growth personally and improvement in the pool, didn’t you?
Madisyn: I completely (laughs) agree with that. Sometimes I look back and see my times before I graduated high school, and I think to ask Carol, why did (laughs) you even recruit me? Why? Why! I think more importantly is the progression I have experienced as a person. That’s why you go through this, and what you are hoping to get from it. Our class is still really close, we go out to dinners and things sometimes, and we just laugh at the old stories. You think, “Was that really me?” And yes, it was. But while it’s a part of you, it’s a part of who you were, and it shaped you into a better person now.