There is no longer a question as to where the busiest, at least, postgraduate training center in the United States is on the road to Rio in 2016.
SwimMAC Carolina’s Team Elite has already added Lauren Perdue and Kirsty Coventry to their impressive list of professional swimmers, they have recently come to agreements with three other NCAA stars: U.S. Open Record holder, and NCAA Champion, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, NCAA Champion Dax Hill, and Columbia first-team All-American Katie Meili.
Vanderpool-Wallace, who is from the Bahamas, is the fastest 100 yard freestyler in history from her time at Auburn. Having recently completed her degree in hotel management, ‘AVW’ was a finalist at the 2012 Olympics in the 50 free in long course, and was a 2010 World Short Course Championships bronze medalist in the 50 free. After the Olympics, she didn’t compete for a year, but continued training while completing school and swam at the World Championships.
“After my light year, I’m ready to get back into working hard and being surrounded by people with the same vision as myself,” Vanderpool-Wallace said of the change. “I appreciate the coaches that have gotten me to where I am now, but I am in need of a change of scenery and teammates who have similar professional goals.”
Vanderpool-Wallace will be focusing on swimming full-time, though she says that grad school is a possibility once she’s settled in.
“Arianna is an incredible competitor and dedicated professional,” said CEO David Marsh. “She is electric in the pool and will add another level of speed to our training program. The exciting part about Arianna is her ability to inspire and connect with so many athletes – she is an incredible athlete and a great person, we can’t wait for her to land in Charlotte en-route to Rio.”
Dax Hill, a graduate of the University of Texas, was the 2012 NCAA Champion in the 200 yard freestyle. In long course, though, his progress has stalled somewhat over the last two years, and was unable to advance to a semi-final or an ‘A’ final at either the Olympic Trials in 2012 or the World Championship Trials in 2013 (though he wound up 13th in the 200 free in Indianapolis this year).
He was, however, a member of the 2011 World University Games team, so he has some international experience under his belt. He was called on to do a lot of breaststroking at Texas as a senior, and with the ability to fully focus on his personal swimming goals as a post-graduate, Hill has the opportunity to once again move toward the spotlight in American swimming.
He showed this in his last meet representing Longhorn Aquatics, where he was a 49.17 for 2nd at the U.S. Open. That’s the kind of potential that gives the 6’8″ Hill so much excitement.
“I’m really excited to make the move to SwimMAC this coming fall, Hill said. “I’ve always trusted Eddie and Kris and when they told me about the program at SwimMAC I knew they did so with my best interest at heart. After talking with Coach David Marsh about Team Elite I know that the situation there is fully capable of helping me take advantage of my talents in my pro career. The opportunity to train with a group of coaches and athletes that have similar goals, demands, and expectations is an exciting environment and one that I look forward to becoming a part of.”
SwimMAC called Hill’s training a “collaborative effort” between themselves and his former coaches at Texas – a flexibility afforded by the highly-individualized attention that SwimMAC athletes have shared with us in the past.
And finally Meili, a graduate of Columbia, has been training and working in Charlotte already. She is the incarnation of what post-graduate swimming is about. She was good as a high school swimmer, but went to college and proved that she could be spectacular. She ended her career as one of the most decorated swimmers in Ivy League history, and placed 3rd in the 100 yard breaststroke as a senior at NCAA’s (59.14).
She was quoted in May in a university ‘student spotlight’ piece as saying “As you get older, you learn to push your body in different ways. You can push your limits and see how far you can go.” That is exactly the attitude needed to be a successful post-graduate athlete in a sport that is not too far removed from a time when 21 or 22 was a standard retirement age for even Olympians.
“I wasn’t ready to stop swimming after graduation,” Meili told us of her new training group. “Luckily, with my Columbia degree, I was able to secure a job in Charlotte at a shipping company. I’m also fortunate enough to be able to continue swimming and training with SwimMAC. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
This group will train under a vast group led by CEO/Director of coaching David Marsh, his Team Elite Assistant Peter Verhoef, and Director of High Performance Jeff Dugdale.
These three will join a club that, while having a constantly shifting roster, includes Micah Lawrence, Madison Kennedy, and Cullen Jones, in addition to Perdue and Coventry noted above.