Episode 19 of Through the Gates aired via SoundCloud Sunday, June 12.
This week, we hear from IU swim coach Ray Looze, the 2016 Big Ten Coach of the Year for both men’s and women’s swimming, along with swimmers Lilly King, a rising sophomore from Evansville studying physical education in the School of Public Health, and Blake Pieroni, a rising junior from Chesterton, Ind., studying biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. King was named the 2016 Big Ten Women’s Swimmer of the Year. Both King and Pieroni hope to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Aug. 5 to 21) at the Olympic Trials for swimming June 26 to July 3 in Omaha, Neb.
Another IU swimmer, rising senior Anze Ravcar, recently qualified for the Summer Olympics at the European Championships, and will represent Slovenia in the 100 freestyle. Ravcar is the 74th Olympian for the IU Swimming and Diving Program.
In this podcast, King and Blake talk about the discipline required for day-to-day life as student swimmers — and the numerous calories needed to fuel their training.
From Monday to Saturday each week, IU swimmers wake around 5 a.m. to make a two-hour practice that starts at 5:45 a.m. Lilly figures she eats about 2,000 calories at breakfast alone — and between 6,000 to 8,000 calories a day — followed by practice, weight-lifting and class, lunch, two and a half hours of swimming, dinner, homework and an early bedtime. Sunday is the day of rest.
To Pieroni, the mental aspect of competitive swimming is the most challenging. “You’ve done something so long, your body gets accustomed to it and it’s easier to meet the demands of the physical. The mental part of, ‘I just got home at 6:30 from all this practice, I just ate, now I have all this homework to do, then I get to get up at 5 in the morning again’ is really daunting.”
Coach Looze also weighed in, noting, “Somebody once told me that swimming is the hardest sport, outside of boxing – and the only reason boxing is harder is you get hit.”
Looze himself is a former swimmer for University of Southern California and a national team swimmer who nearly qualified for the 1992 Olympic competition (he came in third behind two swimmers who qualified).
While he does some recruiting throughout the nation and internationally, Looze said his primary focus is Indiana. “I like to take those kids myself if there’s any hope for them to make a contribution.”
When Looze was new to IU Athletics in 2002, he got some recruiting advice from IU soccer coach Jerry Yeagley, who was then nearing retirement after a career that had led the IU men’s soccer team to six NCAA championships. “He said, ‘look at the five-mile driving radius around Bloomington. Draw a circle and don’t miss anyone in it.’ I’ve really taken that to heart.”
Through the Gates: IU This Week is a collaboration of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, The Media School in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the IU Newsroom. All episodes are available through SoundCloud and iTunes, or on the Media School website.