| Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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.
Last week in Part 1, Nathan Adrian talked about the golden Olympic success in 2008 that propelled him to individual gold in 2012, and into 2016. In this week’s Part 2, he talks about how he goes about sustaining success, what an awesome teammate world-record holder Ryan Murphy is, and why the people make it special. And he has a special mindset when it comes to motivation, as he explains in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1. Who are you excited about seeing at Phillips 66 National Championships?
Nathan: Oh man, I can’t answer who I am excited about watching because I am going to be excited watching every race. And I am just excited to go back to Indy because that’s a great place to have Nationals. A great pool, a great city to host, and close to downtown, so it’s a fun place to be because there are a lot of cool things in that city. There are a lot of great stories that are going to unfold that no one really has an idea about right now -- that’s the reason for all the excitement. People will come out of the woodwork. People who were written off will be on the podium. Young athletes are ready to shine. I’m excited to see those stories be written.
2. How have you adapted your training or diet to sustain a career not only this long, but at this high of a level?
Nathan: Those are things that I had to just kind of incorporate into my life little by little, one by one. It’s more of a thing that I try to work in over the course of time and then have it be part of my daily routine. Four or five years ago, for example, I didn’t eat as many fruits and vegetables. I was more focused on the right amount of carbs, proteins and fats, But when it came down to it I wasn’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. So I make these tiny little lifestyle changes. So there wasn’t one day where I said I have to see a nutritionist and change everything I do. I made healthy changes one by one. So now, post practice, instead of just having some protein and carbs, I’ll have an apple, or a banana for antioxidants. I am also trying to cook more because as anybody who eats out can tell you, a whole lot more stuff goes into your food than you are aware of.
3. You’ve been around the world several times over now, even though these are “working” trips, do you get to enjoy some of the sites?
Nathan: I do but I will give you a guy who appreciates it more than anybody: Josh Prenot. He is really good at going and checking out whatever it is that is cool about a particular place whether it’s a landmark, a bridge, historical building or anything. Josh is really good about that.
4. Those personalities on the Cal team are what I really like the most -- such different guys one and all. Is that part of enjoyable for you?
Nathan: Yes, actually that’s huge part of what I look forward to every day. Each individual person brings something to the table -- adds to the environment. You are going through hard workouts and getting beat up, and people think, “how could you possibly be having a good time?” And then you see these guys, or Dave and (Cal Associate Head Coach) Yuri (Suguiyama) and how happy they are to be there. When you do it with a smile on your face, it’s so much more enjoyable.
5. Being a team captain for Rio, you all really set a great tone -- everyone on the team I have talked to mentioned that -- was that a concerted effort?
Nathan: I certainly can’t take too much credit for that. It’s an interesting position because you are a liaison between the athletes and the coaches, but also you want to balance what you do. I was really lucky because this was such a great group and I’ve had such great teammates that I really enjoy being around them. Your concern is like the CEO of a company, where you hear they can’t be friends with the people they supervise. But I consider all the teammates my friends, and that’s what I appreciate about being on a team. But we were able to help out answering some questions that we had during our own experiences.
6. The new pool at Cal -- is it really as awesome as people say?
Nathan: Oh my gosh, that pool is such a game changer. I literally went from Tuesdays and Thursdays with 8 to 12 people in a lane to now having my own lane or sharing with just one person. That was huge for us. Plus the diving platform. That’s just a testament to Cal Aquatics and a lot of cool, successful people who wanted to give back to a program they love -- the fact that they were willing to do it in a way that makes such a big difference says a lot about the thought and motivation behind it -- so well done. Cal swimming and diving, and water polo, affected their lives in such a positive way, they wanted to give back in a way that’s made such a huge impact. It’s great.
7. Another captain from Rio, Tony Ervin, how happy were you for him?
Nathan: Absolutely, so happy. Tony is such an interesting person, certainly someone I would suggest, if you have the time, to have coffee and a good conversation with, that’s who you go to. You know how hard he worked for this and how much of himself he put into this, and how much thought.
8. Like Tony, you are, though not as old, a veteran now. How do you stay with it and stay on top?
Nathan: Everyone has their own challenge with swimming, so with Tony or anyone else you’d have to ask them what theirs is. For me, I see how long the season is, and how it is emotional, mental and physical. I have to look at it in a cyclical manner. I say that laughingly because you have to know from how many times we have talked through the years that I love the process. Being able to go through it at this level, I know that the tough times will pass. You will have a rut. There will be another challenge. Something else will happen. When I was young, I’d panic about it, and wonder what was going on and if I’d ever come out of it. But if you do the right thing in practice and take care of what you need to, it will pass in time. If you don’t, it will take longer and longer.
9. You mentioned Yuri -- how great of a hire was that, not just for how great a coach he is, but as a fit?
Nathan: Not enough good things can be said about Yuri. Of course Dave knew that fit would happen, so you have to credit Dave for seeing that before he hired him. Yuri has been a huge benefit to our program. He’s a lot like Dave with a smile always on his face -- Yuri’s energy is just priceless for us. I don’t work with him directly as much because I swim with Dave most of the time but I always see the energy Dave puts into his group and know everyone is getting better because of it.
10. How about having Missy Franklin train with you guys now and her unbridled optimism?
Nathan: That’s great, it really is. And she has that great demeanor and personality. It’s similar to when Natalie came and joined us though they were at different points -- but both are great additions to what we have going.
11. How about Kathleen Baker on the Cal women’s team cleaning up in Rio and then coming back for such a great NCAAs?
Nathan: Now that we have two pools I don’t see the women as much but I do see them in the weight room and around here. This was a great year for Kathleen. Not only was she great in Rio, but she comes back and is incredible at NCAAs after such an impressive Olympics. What an effort and drive to back it up with a meet like she had.
12. You swam for Stanford women’s coach Greg Meehan when he assisted Dave at Cal, what do you think of his incredible success at Stanford?
Nathan: I am not surprised at all. There’s not even a little bit of me surprised by his success at Stanford. I knew the kind of talent he has and the kind of person he is, and the kind of talent he would attract. He was there when we won it all (NCAA Championship). Everyone from that team was sad to see him go but proud to see him take that step and we knew he’d do an amazing job.
13. The women’s team in Rio -- Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Maya DiRadio, Lilly King, Lia Neal, Kathleen -- the list goes on and on, doesn’t it?
Nathan: The women’s team had a historic performance -- I think both the men’s and women’s team did, as a whole. But every single one you just mentioned, and so many more up and down across the board, was able to step up, and not just one time. There were so few events, maybe just one or two, we didn’t have a finalist in.
14. What did you think about Lilly King’s comments and then backing it up?
Nathan: That was the story of the Olympics to some people, just like Katie’s and Maya’s and Simone’s and so many others were to people -- all those stories are right there, at the top, with great Olympic moments. That’s what made it so fun, because as Michael and Ryan Murphy are making history on the men’s side with others, so are Katie and Lilly. We were all just doing what we do, and doing our best at it as a group. All of those people from the team -- you can talk to anyone -- we all mean so much to each other.
15. I know the numbers quantify it, but how do you explain not what Katie did, but how she did it?
Nathan: Katie is almost becoming a victim of her own success (laughs) because we expect that every time she swims! But if you take a step back and look at the top 10 performances of all time and you see Katie Ledecky 1 through 10, it is just incredible. She is constantly dropping time. And look what she’s doing in the 400 IM at Stanford? You almost have to take a step back -- a 30,000 foot perspective, because of what she’s doing. She’s absolutely a team player -- there’s no one better than her.
16. What did you think of Maya?
Nathan: Awesome. I thought her 200 back was very, very special. I got to see her in in 2013 at her first major competition -- one of her events then was the 200 fly. So it was pretty cool to see, along with the world, how versatile she is.
17. Stanford and Cal -- what is it in the water out there?
Nathan: I don’t know what it is about it but it certainly has to do with two of the best schools in the nation attracting the kind of talent to be successful in what they do. And our education is extremely important to us, because you will have to rely on it at some point.
18. Speaking of, I saw you graduated with Honors in public health, how great of a feeling is that accomplishment considering the people you were competing with for Honors are some of the smartest people in the world?
Nathan:It does mean a lot. It’s not just me. (Ryan) Murph (Murphy) hasn’t graduated yet but he just got the same Pac 12 medal I got, so when I saw him earn that I was like, “Atta boy, well done.” He’s such a smart guy. He’s also got a really good balance going on, where he can get his work done and just kind of turn it off when he needs to. That’s who these kind of universities attract and I feel very fortunate to be part of it.
19. I remember seeing you in Austin at an arena Pro Swim, and you were just so happy to be there -- yet I knew you were exhausted and had more travel before and after. Where does that contentment come from?
Nathan: When I show up to a meet, it’s important that everyone know I really want to be there and I am really thankful for the opportunity. There’s no point in forcing yourself to go somewhere you don’t want to be. So I think part of it is being self-aware enough to know what your mind and body can and can’t handle. It takes a little time for the rest, recovery and recuperation to get back on my feet, but I love it. Like being at Santa Clara (two weeks ago), it was perfect because I swam Friday and Saturday but was back home resting Sunday.
20. Being part of the last gold medal -- as the anchor no less -- for Michael Phelps’ legendary Olympic career -- how proud were you of and for him?
Nathan: I absolutely couldn’t be happier for him. He’s on the right track, not just with swimming, but in life. Every time I see him he has a huge smile on his face. He gets so excited with his latest Boomer updates and I’m always so glad when he shares it. We were also lucky to have Michael for the fly leg in that medley relay all those years because he always gets a good, solid lead. Certainly we don’t take him for granted and remember all he’s done for the sport. With Murph and Cody (Miller), we had a lot of confidence standing up there. And we knew the last one had to be a gold. Murph delivered a world record. We all did our job. And it ended like it was supposed to. Knowing all that went into it makes it that much more special.