Courtesy: Eney Jones.
Below is a Q & A between Eney and 1988 Olympic gold medalist and current University of Florida head coach Anthony Nesty.
#1 – You are in a very elite category (perhaps only you) as an Olympic gold medalist who has now coached an Olympic gold medalist.
In college coaching have you drawn from being coached at the University of Florida by Skip Foster and Randy Reese, or Gregg Troy at Bolles, or working under Gregg Troy at the University of Florida, then with him in Tokyo. Where do you find coaching inspiration? Or from your dad who wrote Bolles and told you you could quit swimming after a 10 ½ mile swim in the Suriname River (which you won by the way). Was it like the Ichnetucknee River? Is inspiration everywhere? What do you look for in the coaches you hire?
“My father was my greatest inspiration. I look for a coach who shares our core values and is not fearful of hard work. Passion for the sport is important. It is also imperative that you have the ability to combine mature, life skills with this passion. This is equally important to me. You must have balance in life and understand what is truly important. You must be respectful of others and have a good perspective about life in general. Character is extremely important to me. My staff is teachable, accountable and all have a keen awareness of their role in the program. All are committed to the same goal. We work together as a unit. We respect and appreciate our unique qualities and strengths. Each piece of the whole is important.”
#2 – As far as the performances at the SEC Championships, were you pleased? Or surprised? Especially with the women? How do you manage expectations leading up to the NCAAs? I feel coaching men and women together must be hard, but it creates such a familiar family attitude that, as swimmers, we have grown with. Jake Mitchell said you have created an exceptional training environment. Name three things you try to instill in your swimmers making for a great environment.
“You remain loyal to your training plan and seek the shared commitment in your athletes. Once at the championships, the work has been done. You just stay focused and enjoy the process.”
#3 – Challenges you have overcome. On your first day at Bolles, Heather Meckelborg née Anderson, (you might remember her as Hunchster) said you were cold and had a ski hat and gloves on in Florida. Coming from Suriname, this is understandable but was it a different social culture as well? Was English a challenge? Exams? Not having family at Bolles? What was your favorite fly set then to do and now to give? Or distance set? Do you go to failure in a set, or try to build confidence by success?
“The challenges for me were the weather, training and not having my family around. Socially, I had no problem fitting in with the team and my dorm family. Regarding particular sets that we do….I can say that we have lots of different things that we do. Our sets are either based on a progression that the set takes each time we do that particular set. Also, the challenge to the athletes is to maintain your pace and/or get faster throughout a particular set.”
#4 – Remaining humble. There is a saying: “Being humble is cooler than being famous.” You are both. After winning the 100 butterfly in Seoul (by one one-hundreth of a second), the Suriname government commemorated your gold medal performance with an image of you released on gold and silver coins. As I recall, your name was even painted on planes.
How do you keep your ego in check? It is written that after winning in Seoul you didn’t shed a tear but in Tokyo when Bobby Finke won you did. Coaching versus performing, which has given you more meaning?
“Every swimmer has their own unique story. I have been very fortunate to coach some of the best swimmers in the world. I consider it an honor. Bobby worked tirelessly every day at practice. It was extremely satisfying to see the fruit of that labor. I was a companion in his journey. We worked as a unit. That is what made it unique. We had a united goal and fought to reach that goal.”
#5 Katie Ledecky claims your mental aspect of sport (swimming is unparalleled). Any books or quotes you can recommend to help others not fortunate enough to be under your guidance?
My favorite quote is:
“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself” – Miyamoto Musashi
ABOUT ENEY JONES
Eney Jones has achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer.
- Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009
- Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008.
- National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008.
- Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008
- Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012
- European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle
- Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980
- Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980.
- Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).