January 1, 2011 will be the beginning of a new year, a new swim season, new resolutions, and for USA National Team member Peter Vanderkaay, new training grounds. Within the next week, Vanderkaay will be packing up his car and heading south to train with Ryan Lochte and Gregg Troy at the University of Florida’s Gator Swim Club.
For roughly a decade, the name “Vanderkaay” has been basically synonymous with the University of Michigan swimming, which adds some notability to this move. All four Vanderkaay brothers swam for the Wolverines, and now there are only two left: Alex, who swims with Club Wolverine, and Dane, who is a junior on the collegiate team. Peter is, however, by far the most accomplished and recognizble of the quartet.
This is an excerpt from Vanderkaay’s blog post that announced the move.
Other than Dubai, the big news for me is that I’m moving to Gainesville, Florida right after Christmas. I’ve actually had this planned for a little while now, but didn’t want to talk about it prior to competing. It basically comes down to this: I need to shake things up. I love Michigan and Ann Arbor, and it’s been really hard to decide to leave because the coaches and team have been really supportive over the years and I’ve had a lot of success here. But I feel like I need to get out of my comfort zone, and moving to FL will help accomplish that. I’ve been here almost 9 years, and things are just too comfortable for me because its so familiar. I’ve always worked hard and been challenged here, but there’s something to be said for a change to scenery, especially nearing the Olympic year. I love Michigan and the team but I feel like I need a new challenge both in and out of the pool. I’ll always be a Michigan fan and support the Wolverines!
I’m really excited to swim with Lochte and some of the great guys they have down there. I admire Ryan a lot for his tenacity and accomplishments, and I hope that swimming with him will be beneficial for both of us. I also have a lot of respect for their program and I’m grateful that the Florida coaches will take me.
Right now I’m planning on driving down the 29th with big brother. We are planning to stop and eat at every Waffle House along the 1000 mile trek. Just kidding, probably only every other….and hopefully with a little luck, I can be in Jacksonville on New Year’s day to watch Michigan play Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl!
Hard to blame him for the move. There’s no questioning, given what we know about him and his family, that he is a Wolverine through and through, but in a sport that is as mentally taxing as swimming, sometimes a change of scenery can renew passion and take training to a new level.
Oh yeah, and there’s that Lochte fellow. You can’t deny that Gregg Troy has hit a spark in Gainesville. There’s Ryan “the Martian,” defending NCAA men’s Swimmer of the Year Conor Dwyer, the defending NCAA Champions women’s team, Elizabeth Beisel putting some great times up as a freshman, and even Rex Tullius, who is showing some real signs of promise as a post-grad.
This move had been rumored for a few months now, though most had Vanderkaay going to train at the FAST post-grad center in Fullerton, California. One of the lead coaches at FAST is former Michigan coach John Urbanchek, who is the coach that originally recruited Vanderkaay to Michigan.
Picture this headed towards London. With the way Dwyer is swimming, what if 3/4 of the American 800 free relay is training together in Florida? Lochte, Dwyer, and Vanderkaay; All of them under of the tutelage of the defending USA-Swimming Coach of the Year and 2012 Olympic head men’s coach. They could get some real synergy going down in the swamp.