Alon Mandel, answering questions “A day after” stopping being a professional swimmer.
Alon has one of the most amazing swimming technique, he loves swimming, coaching swimming on his time off.
A talk with an Olympic swimmer “ success, swimming, failure and life”
1.Why did you start swimming?
Followed my older sisters.
- When did you know you are a butterfly swimmer?
I always swam fly but focused on backstroke. The turning point was at the end of my freshman year at the University of Michigan,and the legendary coach Jon Urbanchek told me that my backstroke technique was ‘old’ (that is what I was taught in Israel all my life), and if I want to make it to the international scene I should switch stroke to butterfly. This was 16 months before the Beijing Olympics…
- What was your biggest failure in life and in swimming?
This is a tough one. I don’t really pay attention to one big failure that happened, but more like that each failure is just another stage on the road to success… so I guess that a ‘big’ failure was to not be able to finish my swimming career with life-time best (most of my records were set with the ‘fancy’ swimming suites).
- You lost your dad when you were in in China for the Olympics, How did you get the energy to continue and swim?
Naturally, it hit me pretty hard, but my family supported me to do what I came for. In times of crisis you don’t rise to the occasion, but rather into your default level of training, and my training that year were phenomenal, perhaps even the best year I have ever had in my entire career.
- why did you choose to learn in the USA?
Studying in the US allowed me to pursue high-level academic (studied chemical engineering) and high-level athletics. I chose to study at the University of Michigan because my older sister swam there before me and by the time I arrived there, Michael Phelps and his coach were training there.
- Tell me a funny story that happened in Michigan
There are a lot. Probably what I remember the most is the daily fights with my teammates, who hid my sandals (I was the only one wearing them so it was out of the ordinary to come to the pool deck wearing sandals). One time my friend even waxed them without me noticing and one time they hid it beneath a cone in the diving well, 5m deep.
- Would you want your son or daughter to be swimmers?
I’d like them to at least try, but definitely to be in a team of some kind, does not matter the sport they choose.
- You broke a record in the 1500 m freestyle today how was the feeling today compare to 5 years ago?
Today I train 10 km every week. No more and no less. This allows me to come down to meets and literally race. When I swam professionally, if you have a bad meet you either train harder to add workouts or modify something in the process. So, I think that after being ‘officially’ retired, I am actually racing better today. I enjoy keeping the balance and do open water events and sprint events, without exceeding 10 km per week. If that’s gonna break my best times? probably not, but it makes me happy to race without worrying about improving my best times.
A small interview with Olympian swimmer Alon Mandel