The Training Arena - Q&A with Matt McLean
Here is our monthly SwimOutlet.com blog featuring a Q&A with an Arena athlete talking about all things training! December's edition features 25-year-old Matt McLean, a 2012 Olympic Medalist. Leave a question or comment for Matt to answer at the bottom by December 31and you’ll be entered to win an Arena prize!
1.) We all know long training sessions are not always the most glamorous, what is the thing you love most about training and what’s your least favorite?
While glamorous may not be the first term that comes to mind when thinking about long training sessions, I think that the easiest way to make them more enjoyable is to set small goals for each component of every set. This helps to keep you focused, makes the sets go by faster, and makes it more enjoyable because you are fully engaged and invested in what you are doing.
2.) Is there a favorite drill or training routine that you like to do. Something that just gets you motivated?
My motivation is entirely intrinsic, but there are some drills that I really enjoy and find extremely productive. I really enjoy using fingertip drag to help get my elbows high, and I’ve been trying fins for the first time in my life on a consistent basis to try and get used to the feeling of continuous propulsion.
3.) What suit do you usually train in and give us any idea of any training accessories that you really like to use?
I love the Arena Waternity suits. They last, they fit correctly, and they have some cool designs. As far as equipment, I think a pullbuoy is extremely useful in setting up my stroke. I also find racing suits to be useful in training on occasion. I generally like to throw one on for a “stinger” a few weeks before a big meet. A stinger is generally a short swim designed to emulate a portion of your race. Using a Carbon-Pro MK2 or a R-EVO really helps me get the feel of racing in a meet.
4.) What out-of-water training is tops on your list?
In the past I’ve had some issues with my shoulders, and it has really prevented me from doing things such as pull-ups and chin-ups on a consistent basis. I think improving on those exercises this year should really help me to improve the front half of my freestyle stroke.
5.) Talk about your build up to the 2012 Olympics where you won gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay. What was the key for you last summer?
In building up to the Olympic Trials and Olympic Games in 2012, I think the biggest favor that I did for myself was keeping everything in perspective. I treated the races as I would at any other meet where it was important to swim fast and didn’t let the title or the size of the stage adversely affect me. Sometimes, a swim just doesn’t go as planned, and I’ve had experiences with that over the last two summers, but the important things to keep in mind arethat persistence pays off and no single race ever defines you.
6.) What kind of training does the Olympic relay team do as a team in terms of starts or swimming together? Are there special relay training sessions?
In the camps leading up to international meets the relay teams generally have some time in each workout to practice relay starts and to learn the other swimmers' strokes. This allows you to better assess their finish and better time your start. Relays provide an extremely fun and unique opportunity to represent your country at the highest stages. Their importance is often amplified by the fact that it is not uncommon for the other relay members to be some of your closest friends.
7.) What’s your broad goals for the next few years and how is your training going to adapt to get you there?
I generally keep my goals to myself, but I think the best way of sharing would be to say that I’m just as hungry as ever. I am extremely optimistic about my move to NBAC as I truly believe that the coaches and staff are some of the best in the world. I was very fortunate to be able to swim for Mark Bernardino in Virgina, Jon Urbanchek in California, and I hope to build off of the base that they provided me with Coach Bowman.
Don’t forget to leave a question or comment for Matt to answer at the bottom by December 31 and you’ll be entered to win an Arena prize!Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: firstname.lastname@example.orgCrustal Badham
1 year ago.I have heard so many different opinions about tech suits. One coach says it doesn't make a difference and another one does. My son is just getting to the point where he is getting all his JAG and JO times. Are these suits worth the expense? Will they really make a difference in his times?Andrew B
2 years ago.It's my dream to swim in the olympics and be an arena athlete! What are some of the things you did when you were 17 to get to where you are now? Times? Training?Joyce Hollow
2 years ago.I coach a middle school team of 70 kids and do not have enough equipment for everyone. What In your training could help motivate my kids when i have to use different equipment in different lanes at the same time; and to motivate kids you see have potential but not mentally prepared to go to the next step?Kevin
2 years ago.I loved the answers as they really motivate you to do better and especially if the answers are coming from an Olympic swimmer himself ! Happy new year!Lee Anne Bettenhausen
2 years ago.When I swim for Special Olympics in Indiana I love to do the backstroke at one point they had a 200 yard backstroke what is your favorite stroke to do and what is your favorite pool you have swam in mine are the natatorium and university of rose hullman.Lisa
2 years ago.Keep up the good work. I have a 9 year old and 14 year old competitive swimmer. Best sport ever.Kay
2 years ago.I have always wanted an Arena suit! Thank you for such a good read!Margaret Zimmerma
2 years ago.The answer about focusing on goals throughout each set is exactly what I try to focus on during every practice. Thinking about how each set will improve your swimming makes you want to constantly push yourself even when your sore from hours of training. Thanks for the great responses Matt!Nate
2 years ago.How do you get motivated before a swim?mandy
2 years ago.My son lives to swim. Can't wait to show him this article.Alison
2 years ago.After years and years of training and looking back, did you ever think of quitting?mikki vlach
2 years ago.Great article with great advice for my young swimmer!mikki vlach
2 years ago.Great article! Lots of excellent advice for my young swimmer!Tom
2 years ago.Hi matt
I was wondering if you swam highschool and USA. If yes how did you balance bothTom
2 years ago.Did you swim highschool and club, if so how did you balance both USA and highschool swimmingKathleen Flynb
2 years ago.How do I keep my 13 and 11 year old boys interested in swimming when there are so many plateaus where they go long periods without dropping timeRen Sleepy Head Andrews
2 years ago.Hi Matt, I'm a huge fan :)
How do you juggle swim life and your regular day to day life?
And what is your favorite movie?
2 years ago.What is your diet like as an elite swimmer? How many calories do you have to consume daily to keep building and maintaining muscle?Kristie Wisniewski
2 years ago.I took over as Head Coach of a team that already submitted an intent to fold. It's been a very trying season of rebuilding with only 28 kids most of which are 8&unders ( my own are twin 5 year olds). What ideas do you have for recruitment to rebuild this team? Best ways to teach and motivate these young swimmers? Ideas to keep them warm in competition temperature pool?Josh
2 years ago.Would love some arena gear I need a new suit.Misti
2 years ago.I love doing drills with fins! But I'm relatively new to swimming and hear conflicting opinions on the merits of short fins vs long. What do you use?JT
2 years ago.Work Hard Play Hard!!!!JT
2 years ago.Work Hard Play Hard!!!Bridget Perdoch
2 years ago.All swimmers love food, Do Matt what is your favorite pre- meet snack/meal? And why?Emily W.
2 years ago.What do you think the hardest part about swimming is?Add a Comment
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