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.

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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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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.


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


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

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.


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!


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.

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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