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  • May

    On Deck: Q&A with Melanie Margalis

    Since graduating from the University of Georgia in 2014, US National Team Member Melanie Margalis has been gaining experience and speed. She finaled in the 200 IM at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan and won the 200 Breaststroke at the prestigious Duel in the Pool, where the U.S. faced off against Europe. Recently, we caught up with the Dolfin Pro to talk training, gear and the countdown to Olympic Trials.

    SwimOutlet Blog: What’s been your biggest accomplishment of the past year?

    Melanie Margalis: Finaling at Worlds last summer in the 200 IM.

    SwimOutlet Blog: You swim with the University of Georgia post-grad group under Coach Jack Bauerle. What has been your main focus?

    Melanie Margalis: I think the thing I’ve been focusing on is how to put together a good race. Being an IMer, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but you need to figure out how to put those together to have the best race possible.

    SwimOutlet Blog: What was it like to watch the Lady Bulldogs win NCAAs this year?

    Melanie Margalis: It was so awesome. Those are my training partners. I don’t get to race with them, but it was so amazing to watch their hard work pay off. It was so emotional. It was exciting to see them pull off this huge thing that people didn’t think they could do.

    SwimOutlet Blog: Can you talk more about the group of people you’re training with?

    Melanie Margalis: It’s really been cool this year because last year there were only two of us post grads and now there’s a bigger group. We’ve been separated a lot more because we didn’t want to get behind on our training during the college season. I train with Shannon Vreeland which is obviously huge for my freestyle because she’s such a good freestyler. Also, there’s Nick Fink. His breaststroke is a really good race speed for my fly and back, so I think that pushes me a lot.

    SwimOutlet Blog: Have you tried anything new at practice?

    Melanie Margalis: I’m trying to work my backstroke into it more. My backstroke was really awful for a while, and I’m just now getting the feel of it back. I’m ready to try it out to see how much I can push my backstroke and still have the second half of my race be good.

    SwimOutlet Blog: What equipment do you always have in your swim bag?

    Melanie Margalis: Snorkel, the Dolfin kickball and drag socks. Just recently, I’ve really gotten into using a snorkel. I’ve found that when I put my snorkel on I can really focus on my technique, especially in freestyle. I focus on really working through my entire stroke and pushing through to the end. I actually really like using it for breaststroke drills too. I find in a lot of them you really have to hold your breath a lot, so it takes that out of the equation and lets you focus.

    SwimOutlet Blog: Do you know what events you will be swimming at trials?

    Melanie Margalis: I have an idea. I’m definitely going to be swimming the 200 IM and 100 and 200 Breaststroke. I’m still deciding whether to swim the 200 free or not. That’s gonna be a game time decision. It’s on the same day as the 200 IM.

    SwimOutlet Blog: How does your strength as a breaststroker affect your strategy in the 200 IM?

    Melanie Margalis: I try to really make my move on breaststroke which is fun because there are some really good breaststrokers. I feel like for the most part, a lot of people I race are really good at the front half so it’s my chance to catch up so I can get into the race for the last 50.

    SwimOutlet Blog: How does your training reflect that strategy?

    Melanie Margalis: I work my breaststroke and freestyle more than my back and fly. I’m training those every day of the week for sure. I do a lot of IM switches. I’ll do a build 50 breast into a fast 50 free or a build 50 back into a fast 50 breast.

    SwimOutlet Blog: What will the month leading up to trials be like for you in the pool?

    Melanie Margalis: We will do a lot of pace work, a lot of quality stuff and a lot of racing. We’ve done even more this year. We used to only do it on Saturdays but now we’ve added Wednesdays, too. I’m a person who doesn’t taper a lot because I start to feel weak, so I will continue to put in a lot of good work to get ready for trials.

    SwimOutlet Blog: Do you get really nervous before big races?

    Melanie Margalis: No, not really. Over the past few years I’ve just learned to relax before my race. I realize that it’s just swimming. I want to do well and swim fast, but I know that I’m putting in the work and I should be able to swim fast. If I don’t, I’m still gonna be a human being and I’m still going to have family and friends. People aren’t going to hate me.

    SwimOutlet Blog: Do you have any pre-race rituals?

    Melanie Margalis: I like to talk to people in the ready room. It’s always been a big thing for me. Especially if one of my teammates is in the room with me. I can talk to them and take my mind off the race.

    SwimOutlet Blog: I know that you like to wear the Dolfin Titanium Knee Suit to race in. What’s your routine with your suit at big meets?

    Melanie Margalis: Actually I’ve been trying a new thing this year leading up to trials. I know that at trials you have to be out of the pool so long in the ready room waiting to swim. So lately at meets, I’ve been doing a big warm up in my practice suit and then putting on my racing suit and staying pretty dry until I swim. I think going into trials, that’s how I’m gonna keep getting ready for races. I like for the first time my suit to get wet to be when I’m diving into a race.

    SwimOutlet Blog: You come from a big swimming family with your older sister Stephanie having swum at South Carolina and big brother Robert at Georgia and for the US National Team. Is your family going to watch you at trials? Are they pretty intense?

    Melanie Margalis: My family will be there. I think, as a whole, they just kinda goes with the flow. We’ve all been around swimming for so long. My parents know that they can’t change anything with how I’m swimming. My brother and my sister know that too because they’ve been through it. They do get really excited, though and cheer pretty loud!

    SwimOutlet Blog: This will be your third Olympic Trials. What did you learn from 2008 and 2012?

    Melanie Margalis: I remember at trials in 2008 being super, super nervous. I don’t know why because it wasn’t like I was gonna make the team or anything. The only thing that I really remember from 2012 is getting DQ’d in the 200 IM. Trials is such an emotional meet: happy and sad. I remember watching my teammates trying to make the Olympic team and some of them making it and some of them not and the extreme emotion that you feel about it.

    SwimOutlet Blog: What advice would you give to someone who is swimming at trials for the first time?

    Melanie Margalis: Just try to relax and have fun. For me, I’ve learned to love looking around at the crowds. Get super pumped that all these people are watching you swim. Use that excitement for your race.

    Learn more about Melanie, and shop the Dolfin Kickball and Titanium Speed Suit

    Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: xx@yy.zz
    Alexandra
    4 years ago.
    I thought that the interview was very interesting because it told a lot about how she grew up becoming a swimmer. From when she was little to where she is now.
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