Editor's Note--This is the first in a series of stories about North Shore Olympians including Deerfield High School graduate Christina Loukas.
Between trans-Atlantic travel and a schedule where Conor Dwyer, 23, will hit the pool while still jet lagged, the North Shore native says his first taste of the Summer Olympics preparation was like a Marine boot camp.
But the Loyola Academy alum, who will be competing in the 400-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle relay events in two weeks, isn’t complaining.
The U.S. Olympic Swim Team, including Dwyer, left for Vichy, France, Saturday and went right into the pool Sunday to start more than a week’s worth of pre-Olympics practice.
“They like us to get in, swim around and get used to the time zone,” Dwyer said. “Make sure we’re awake during the day and sleeping at night.”
Sightseeing will be at a minimum while practice will be Dwyer’s constant companion.
“The first five days will be higher-to-medium yardage and real specific things,” he said. “The last five days will be a lot of speed (drills) and rest.”
At that point, Dwyer says there’s not much you can do to get aerobically fit.
“You’re just tuning up and getting ready to race,” he said.
Working on the Details
The checklist of final skills Dwyer plans to work on include turns, starts, relay exchanges and “all the small things that can [add] the one-hundredths of a second that could decide a medal at the Olympics.”
Dwyer plans to spend two hours a day in the water and is still training to hit his pace everyday.
Gregg Troy, Dwyer’s college swim coach, who is also the U.S. Olympic Team coach, will be on hand to help train him.
“You have to believe in your training and it’s something you do day-in and day-out in training –take your body to the well,” Dwyer said. “It hurts a lot. But just pushing past the pain and doing everything you can do to get your hand on the wall first.”
Another of Dwyer’s goal is getting into the “correct mental state of mind” for the Olympics and not to get too nervous or let all the hype scare him.
“We have a team with 20-some veterans and they’re telling us, ‘Yes, it’s the Olympics and there’s a lot of hype. But it’s what we do every day. It’s nothing to be afraid of to just go out there to have fun, race and really enjoy every moment of it,’” he said.
Enjoining the Experience
One of the things Dwyer is looking forward to is meeting athletes from all over the world both at meets and in the Olympic Village.
“From what I heard, that’s one of the coolest things, to meet people from all the different backgrounds. You meet people in the dining halls. Meet as many people as you can, and enjoy the experience,” he said.
Dwyer is happy his 400-meter event will be held July 28, the day after the opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics. The 800-meter event is scheduled for July 31.
“I did world championships last summer, and I waited around for six days to swim,” he said. “I’m excited to actually get involved in the meet right away.”