Big Ten Senior Spotlight: Kyle Workman of Michigan State University

If there’s one stroke that the Michigan State Spartans have had some relative success in recent years, it’s been the butterfly, with 2013 graduate Jacob Jarzen accumulating multiple All-American honors throughout his career in the 100 fly and 2014 graduate Bryan Williams scoring points in the 100 and 200 at conference on multiple occasions for the Green and White. Continuing that tradition this year is senior Kyle Workman out of Palos Hills, Illinois, and he will be one of a number of Spartans hunting for a big heat next week.

Workman joined the Spartans in the 2011-12 season as a sprint freestyle and butterfly specialist, and he improved across all of his individual events during his freshman year. At the 2012 Big Ten Championships, Workman recorded finishes of 25th in the 100 fly (49.12), 58th in the 200 free (1:41.07), and 53rd in the 100 free (45.66). Additionally, he went career bests at the Ohio State Invitational mid-season meet in the 200 free (1:39.87) and 50 free (21.41).

Workman improved even more during his sophomore year, becoming a reliable member of the Spartan’s relays at the conference championships as well as holding his own in his individuals. At that year’s Big Ten Championships, he posted career best times in the 50 free (20.59, 34th) and the 100 fly (48.70 in prelims, 49.72 for 24th in finals) while also competing in the 100 free (46.22, 59th). Workman would also factor into Michigan State’s relays, providing the anchor leg of the team’s 7th place finishing 800 free relay (6:27.21) and the team’s 200 free relay (1:20.36, DQ).

Last year, Workman continued to be an impactful member of the Spartan’s conference team, swimming to 51st in the 50 free (20.87), 22nd in the 100 fly (48.66, 48.19), and 56th in the 100 free (45.92). Notably, his swim in the prelims of the 100 fly was a personal best, and he also swam the butterfly leg on MSU’s 10th place finishing 200 medley relay (1:28.29).

Kyle Workman’s final conference meet with the Spartans could very likely be his best one yet, with the men from East Lansing having perhaps their deepest team they have had in a number of years. The team had three swimmers other than Workman clear 50 seconds in the 100 fly at the 2014 TYR Invitational mid-season meet, including a team-leading performance of 48.27 by junior Jacob Moore, so there will be a fairly competitive group of butterfliers representing the team next week. Additionally, Workman swam to a career best time last summer in the 100 fly (56.07) at the Ohio Sectional meet, so we should expect him to translate that success to his championship swims in short course yards.

Best Times (SCY/LCM):
50 Free: 20.59/24.75
100 Free: 45.66/52.30
200 Free: 1:39.80/1:55.30
100 Fly: 48.19/56.07

School Major/Degree: Packaging
Favorite Event: 100 Butterfly
Favorite Hobby/Hidden Talent: I am a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. I am also the winningest member on the team in Super Smash Brothers 64.
Favorite Movie: Zoolander
Role Model Growing Up/ Person You’d Like to Meet: My parents are my role models. If I had the opportunity to meet anyone, it would be the three members of the experimental rap outfit Death Grips- MC Ride, Zach Hill, and Andy Morin.
Favorite Food/ Pre-Race Meal: Goldfish

At what age did you become involved with swimming? How did you get into it?

Probably 8 or so, I excelled in group swim lessons at our local high school and my mother thought it’d be a good idea to try out for the club team- Hickory Willow Swim Association.

What is your favorite collegiate swimming memory and why?

My favorite memory as an individual would be splitting 20.8 in the 50 fly in the 200 medley relay. My favorite team experience would be playing glow-in-the-dark ultimate frisbee during training trip. We’ve played twice in the past two years. The two teams put on corresponding colored glow sticks, go out onto the beach at night, and play. It’s a lot of fun.

Would you be willing to share some of your goals for your last championship season with the Spartans?

For each of my past three Big Ten meets, I have gotten to the bonus heat… including a very bitter 17th place prelim finish last year. My goal is to break into the scoring heats, as well as best times across the board.

You have had the opportunity to train with some very talented butterfliers over the last few years at Michigan State, including Bryan Williams and Jacob Jarzen. Do you feel like having such talented swimmers in practice with yourself had a measurable impact on your own development?

Interesting, because the two of them swam butterfly very differently- different things can be taken from the two of them. From JJ, I learned how valuable the underwater dolphin kick can be in any race. Bryan is a workhorse, so during my senior year especially I strive to replicate his work ethic and leadership skills.

What/who do you think has been the single most important catalyst to your swimming career?

I’d have to say my club coach- Tom Rieman of HWSA. He set the foundation for all I know in the sport, and under him things really started to “click.” He is an excellent coach and is always there when I need him.

Do you have any plans/commitments following the completion of your collegiate career?

Per the recommendation made by the packaging curriculum, I am pursuing a 6 month co-op in the field. Nothing set in stone yet, though. After that is complete, I will be back in East Lansing for one more semester next spring.

What should we look forward to from Michigan State as a whole at this year’s Big Ten Championships?

Because we’re such a young team this year (12 freshmen, 6 sophomores) I’m looking forward to large time drops at their first Big Ten meets. They’ve all worked very hard and deserve to swim fast. The Junior class is very dependable and work well under pressure, so they should drop a fair amount of time as well. Myself and fellow senior, David Zoltowski, are looking to go out on a high note. As can be expected, we’re extremely motivated to lead our team to the best finish we’ve seen in our four years.

 

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About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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