We are very fortunate to have our own olympian, Sean Ryan coaching for us at our Canton location. Sean, who is a former University of Michigan swimmer now competing professionally around the world, will be competing for Team USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Open Water Marathon Event. We wanted to pick Sean's brain about everything Olympic so we sent him this list of 12 questions and got his responses! He's got some great information about his Olympic dream, the way to train for open water events, and technique.
1.) What was the first thing you thought after you qualified for Rio?
My first feeling was disbelief, it definitely took a while to sink in. I was lucky to be able to share the moment with my parents and my coach who were in Kazan.
2.) The water quality for the open water event has been a topic of discussion, can you tell us if you have heard about any improvements that have been made or measures that are going to be taken to ensure your safety?
The most important part for me as an open water swimmer is that our venue, Copacabana Beach, is open ocean so the pollution is not nearly as bad as the bay or inland lake. But yes we are going to take some precautionary measures before the race.
3.) Open water is a different animal than swimming in a Pool, how do you prepare mentally for an event that is truly governed by the elements?
The most important part of preparation for an open water race is not attempting to control the race like you would a pool race. In open water the most important thing is to stay calm and stay flexible.
4.) How old were you when you set Olympic Level Goals?
I was probably 15 when I first set my Olympic Level goals. I went Olympic Trials for the first time that year in the 1500, and that was when I first thought making the Olympics could be a realistic goal.
5.) Setting the competition aside, what are you most excited for at these Olympics?
I'm really excited to be part of the Olympic atmosphere and participate in the worlds largest sporting event. I am especially excited to be a member of Team USA and am excited to live in the Olympic village and enjoy the atmosphere of the games.
6.) A lot of our clients at tweak are triathletes, what advice can you give them about maximizing their pool time so that it has an effective carry over into the Open water?
Also, what do you think of sighting and is there a "most efficient way" to sight?
Are you wearing a wetsuit? If yes, which one and why?
Maximizing pool time is important because it is where you can get the best conditioning. Modern swimming is based around interval training, which is easy to do in the pool but very hard to do in the open water. I think that the most efficient way to sight is to build it into our stroke. When I sight I lift my head enough to see then roll my head into my breath.
7.) Since you have already qualified for Rio in the open water event are you going to attend USA swimming Olympic Trials? If no, was that a hard decision to make?
I will attend the Olympic Trials, and I will be swimming the 1500 but not the 400. It was a difficult decision to not swim the 400, but with my Open Water schedule my coach and I decided I shouldn't swim the 400.
8.) How would you describe the training in your group in Ann Arbor? What's the atmosphere like on a day to day basis? As the clock to Rio winds down is it different at practice than a month ago, a year?
The training is definitely difficult, but we work well as a group and stay positive through the hard work. As we get closer and closer to trials though the atmosphere is definitely changing and there is a lot more tension on deck as everyone is making their final preparations to try to make the team.
9.) What advice can you give to all swimmers and triathletes about leading a fulfilling career in the water?
I would advise them to enjoy the journey of their swimming career. Whether as a triathlete or a swimmer enjoy the relationships you build and the opportunities you have to compete.
10.) Considering both coaches and swimmers who has had the most influence on your career? Would couldn't you do this without? Can you speak about why?
There are too many people in my life I am thankful for who have made this journey possible. My coaches and teammates have always challenged me and helped drive me to be the best swimmer I can be.
11.) At tweak we like tech in the water! Have you used anything tech related to help improve your performances?
I actually use endless pools in my training pretty often to simulate long swims without the walls typical in pool swimming.
12.) How crucial is technique to a successful race?
Technique is important for me, especially as I try to be as efficient in the water as possible. This is very important through a 2 hour race, where the outcome is usually decided within the few minutes of the race. Therefore saving energy through the rest of the race especially through efficient technique is very important.
Show Sean your support by following him on Twitter (@seanryan92) and keep with us as we follow him through the Rio games! You can always book a swim analysis appointment with Sean by clicking the schedule now button on our website, he will be returning to coaching at the end of August.