Zane Grothe Understands Distance Pain: GMM presented by

Gold Medal Minute presented by

Zane Grothe has walked through the fire and been reborn.  Zane was certain his career was done, and he mourned its end. After some intense soul-searching he decided to give it one more shot, changing his location and coaches. The results appear to be nothing less than a revival of U.S. distance swimming.  After his 4:07.2 500 and 14:18 1650 freestyle American records at the 2017 U.S. Winter Nationals, Zane’s eyeing the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games with hope and confidence.

Zane opens up about the moment he knew his career was over and how he pulled himself out of that mindset. He also shares advice to swimmers experiencing doubt in their careers now.

There are not assurances for Zane, even with two American records under his belt. What does Zane need to drop this year and at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials to be in the hunt for Olympic hardware?

400 free and the 800 free relay appear to be his best shot right now.

400m free?  I think he needs to be 3:43+ this year to medal at Pan Pacs. For 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials,  to be safe, he needs to aim for a 3:42.3.

800 free relay? I think you need to be 1:46 flat to make the 2020 Olympic Team, and that’s for a 6th place. I’m hoping for a fast 200m free final in Omaha by 2020.  ***Note, Clark Smith was 6th with 1:47.5 to make the 4×200 in 2016.

Follow Zane Grothe  on Twitter here.

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This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of, a Swimming News website.

Follow Gold Medal Mel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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3 years ago

Given the recent breakthroughs in SCY 200 and 500, I’m hopeful that American times in those distances and their analogs in LCM improve drastically in the next couple years. The fact that 1:32 and 4:12 has become relatively(still incredible but not eye-popping) pedestrian in the last year or two gives me a good bit of hope for these events. That coupled with the disappointing showing in 800 free relay at last world champs hopefully ingnites a spark for mid distance freestlye within the US, so I don’t think Mel’s predictions are too far off.

Caeleb Dressel Will Get 7 golds in Tokyo
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Mel, those were the fastest Trials in US swimming history. 3 guys sub 1:46 textile who were not Lochte or Phelps? I mean, you gotta lower your predictions because I was (stupidly) disappointed by Phelps in Rio, and other swimmers as well. I like all the hype, but realistically we can’t expect a world record every year.

Caeleb Dressel Will Get 7 golds in Tokyo
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Well I agree with you there. Top textiles in 200 free with a jammer are
1:43.14 Yannick Agnel 2012
1:44.20 Yannick Angel 2013
1:44.39 Sang Yang 2017
1:44.44 Ryan Lochte 2011

I’m not so sure a 1:45 is slow, as much as the fastest swimmers are just at that speed. A decade ago, 1:46.7 was enough to medal at worlds. It took forever for people to catch up with Ian Thorpe’s times. I don’t see a 1:45 as being slow, but I too, want to see more 1:43s, but I doubt I’ll see a 1:42 in the next 10 years

Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Mel, who are these 8 guys?

Reply to  Friuti
3 years ago

There are guys like Haas , Pieroni , and Grothe growing and improving very well ( specially in the 200 free and above ) – i am very confident that more will come on that scene in the next 2, 3 years . Yes , that 800 free relay sucked last year …because Team Usa did not have a Lochte or Phelps to back it up anymore . The new generation will rise to the challenge . Lets just wait 2018 Trials

3 years ago

Wow. Great piece. Somebody needs to make a documentary film on this guy (Mel, you reading this?) He’s the kind of person and has a story we all can learn from and he’s gifted at telling us who he is. He speaks as if he’s reading something that’s been labored over, if not crafted. Every word spoken belongs and matters. Where will his journey take him? He presents a rare opportunity for a filmmaker.

Dan Smith
Reply to  Fluidg
3 years ago

Agree. The success stories are always followed: GOAT, Lochte, Nat, Meili, etc The “those that hit the ceiling, consider retirement and keep going to much more success” are generally not followed. Good story in self-belief and, willingness to change everything to get better. ’16 was my first trials ever just as a fan in stands. The competition was great, there were high expectations in some events, men’s 2free was one. Enough wow factor for me. And, some simply amazing performances, and not just from finalists. many names now emerging we in consy final or just missed a consy final. Also proved, to me, toughest swim meet in the world.

Years of Plain Suck
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Very nice piece, Mel. One of your best. I like it that ZG is articulate. Similar to Chase Kalisz.

Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Pitch away the old like a crushed orange peel was taught to me by my college coach. He was rarely wrong. Best wishes to son of “hey you do have no hair”, “You do look like Curley”.

3 years ago

Zane Grothe sounds like a great man. Thank you for that fantastic interview Mel.

Please Mel, strongly suggest you find out programmatically what is different about Zane’s training than before. Clearly it had a profound impact on him. It is so rare to get that much better at his age.

Thank you!

Reply to  mikeh
3 years ago

Swim Swam has done some articles on some of the killer sets that he does.

He has a coach that knows how to push Zane to his limits. And Zane is willing to do it. His stroke has improved too.

3 years ago

Zane talks about how, in swimming, people can help you in your time of need. Cody Miller was a friend who was a link between his moment of doubt and the coaching change that produced the success that followed. Zane might not have gone to Indiana without Cody playing that role.

Zane had his big breakthrough in the 400 free at the 2015 LC Nationals. He swam next to Clark Smith, who took the race out fast and built a lead. Zane chased him down and exploded in the final 50 (27.5) to finish in 3:45.98, a time that put him in the top 10 in the world.

That 400 free final at the Olympic Trials was an… Read more »

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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