Mike Bottom on Handling Adversity: ‘Turn All the Emotion into Motivation’

University of Michigan head coach Mike Bottom is no stranger to adversity in swimming. The 40-year veteran of the sport was a five-time All-American at USC ahead of the 1980 Olympics, and was set to go to the Moscow when the United States chose to boycott.

In video shared on Twitter, Bottom offers his thoughts on how to deal with the adversity that stems from the COVID-19 pandemic in light of his past experience. In March, the International Olympic Committee announced the 2020 Tokyo Games would be postponed one year, putting a wrench in swimmers’ plans worldwide.

“1980 was a tough year for a lot of Olympians,” he said. “How do you deal with that loss?”

“You turn all of the emotion into motivation. You feel the emotion, you feel the hurt, you feel the pain and the loss,” he said. “And then you determine what you want to put that emotion into — in a goal, in a purpose. I turned it into a coaching motivation.”

Bottom says missing out on 1980 gave him a goal of putting more Olympians on teams – for any country –  than the number of  U.S. Olympians who didn’t get to go to Moscow in 1980.

“And that was something that drove me for years,” he said.

Bottom joined Michigan as the head of its men’s program in 2008, and took over the women’s team in 2013. Prior to that, he was co-head coach of Cal’s men’s program from 1997-2008, and before that, an assistant at USC and Auburn. Bottom has been on the pool deck at six Olympics  (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) and was the U.S. head coach for the 2013 and 2015 World University Games.

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About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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