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June 23, 2012

Tyler Clary


THE MODERATOR:  We're going to get started.  First of all, welcome to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.  This is our first press conference, so Tyler Clary has the honor of being the first person on the podium.  As most of you know, Tyler is a member of the U.S. National Team.  He was a two‑time medalist at the 2011 World Championships, a member of the FAST swim team and trains in Fullerton, California.
I will open it up for questions in a moment.  Tyler, coming to Omaha, how does it feel compared to 2008?  What's different for you?
TYLER CLARY:  I had to stop, and I did a bit of a double‑take on the competition pool deck.  Almost everything looks the same as it did in 2008, and the training pool is almost like it was in 2008, too, so I had to figure out what was going on, but it's amazing.
Like I've said before, I love this meet.  The time back in 2008 they did it, it was run amazingly, there were so many people here, it was amazing to feel the energy of the crowd, and I'm excited to be back here today.

Q.  Tyler, you compete against Ryan and Michael in almost all your events.  How would you describe your relationship with each of them and how would you describe their relationship to each other?
TYLER CLARY:  Right into the meat and potatoes, huh?  (Laughter.)  My relationship with Ryan is we're friends.  We don't really keep in touch off deck, but that's the cool thing about swimming is you can be completely separated from all the people you would see normally on a pool deck, and as soon as you get right back on the pool deck, you can pick right back up, and that's one of the cool things about Ryan, he's a great guy.
My relationship with Michael is a little more distant.  He and I trained together a little bit in Michigan, and that's the type of person he is, he's a little more distant, but we're friendly on the pool deck.  And as far as the relationship between those two, from what I can tell, they have a similar relationship as I do with them.
They push the best out of each other every time they get in the pool with each other, so I'm interested in seeing what happens in those races between the two of them and between me and those two, also.

Q.  Tyler, what events are you going to swim this week?  When you do race against Michael and Ryan, how do you feel like racing when those guys get so much attention and you're maybe‑‑ how do you feel as far as your role in those show‑down races?  Explain a little bit about that.
TYLER CLARY:  First off, the plan right now is to swim the 400 IM, the 200 Free, 200 Butter and the 200 Backstroke.  I'm likely not going to swim the 200 IM or the 400 Free.  As far as my take on how things are when I swim with them, as far as like you said them getting more exposure than I do, because they definitely do, and rightfully so.
But I think it puts me into an interesting position, because I've been training day in and day out for years to make this team, day in and day out for years to win an Olympic Gold Medal and if I can pull that off, it will make the entire experience that much more sweet, because all of the sudden things are going to be like, "Where the heck did this guy come from?"  That's how I look at it.

Q.  Has it helped that you haven't had to deal with the pressure of the media spot light that Ryan and Michael have had to deal with?  Or would you have trained the same way no matter what?
TYLER CLARY:  I would have trained the same way.  Whether or not people want to come to me on a daily basis and talk to me about my training leading up to the Olympics would not have made a big difference.  If anything, it would have made me more hungry for it, because being in the spot light, obviously in a positive spotlight is a very good thing.  People like that, but it doesn't change my preparation for the meet at all.

Q.  Tyler, do you ever feel like you came along at the wrong time, talking about going against these two guys.  You might have been a big star, obviously ‑‑
TYLER CLARY:  I feel like I came along at the perfect time.

Q.  Oh, okay.  Why do you say that?
TYLER CLARY:  I mean, the interesting thing about swimming, especially over the past four or five years, is that because of who Ryan is and because of who Michael is and because of what they have accomplished, there has never been this much exposure for swimming, and there really hasn't.
Swimming on a worldwide, especially in the United States, is so well covered, especially in an Olympic year, and especially with those two.  Would I be sitting here without what those two have done in the past?  I don't know.

Q.  Tyler, can you explain your thinking about possibly passing on the 200 IM?
TYLER CLARY:  I mean, what it boils down to is realistically I'm probably not going to be able to place myself in the top two in the 200 IM, and it falls on the same day as the 200 Backstroke, which is a strong, contending event for me, so it doesn't make sense for me to swim it.

Q.  You mentioned a moment ago that you have done this for a long time.  What is it that keeps you motivated day in, day out to train to stay at it, what internally or externally motivates you?
TYLER CLARY:  I mean, there's a lot of things that you can say that will externally or internally motivate any one person, but I think the biggest one for me is that I live for the race.
I mean, if you talk to anybody who has ever coached me or has had the chance to work with me on a trip or on the National Team trips, they will tell you I'm a much better racer than I am a trainer.  This became especially apparent to me when somebody showed me a video of me in a training set, and they showed me a video of the same thing in a race.
I did a set of 400 IMs, one in practice and a 400 IM in a race, and I almost couldn't recognize myself, because the way I swim when I'm in the pool against other people and everybody is watching and the pressure is on is different.  I don't know why, but the person I am, I respond to the pressure in a positive way.

Q.  Tyler, when you're trying to decide between two events, let's say the 200 IM and the 200 Backstroke how much of it is how good you are in the event and how much of it is what the competition is stacking up to be in the event at the Trials?
TYLER CLARY:  I mean, swimming is‑‑ it's an individual sport.  Obviously there is a racing aspect to it; you've got the person next to you, but at the end of the day you can only control what you do in that lane.  So I think more than anything, it comes down to how good you think you are in that particular event.  As a secondary consideration, you take into account who else is in that event.  If you're not very good at an event and there is no one else in it, then, okay, yeah, sure, I'll swim it.  But you've got the past two World Record Holders as the top two in the event.  Seems like 2008.

Q.  What are your expectations this time compared to four years ago?  Are they different?  Is your level of confidence any different this time?
TYLER CLARY:  The answer to both of those questions would be a loud, resounding "Yes!"  The expectation that I had coming into 2008 was I just wanted to make the finals.  I didn't expect to make the team, I didn't expect to do as well as I did in 2008.  That was part of what helped me realize, like I said, how I respond to pressure.  For me that was the biggest meet I had ever been to, I say it all the time, 14,500 people, live, pyrotechnics on the deck, we're in this amazing arena, it's anything unlike any of us had ever experienced before, so it's crazy!  And this year I fully expect to put myself on the Olympic Team, and I've been training for it ever since I fell short in '08.
That being said, my confidence because of what I've been training for over the years and the past successes I have had is an order of 10 higher than what it was in 2008.

Q.  You've said you aren't going to go to another Olympics after this one.  Why not, and is the door really closed?  Will you change your mind depending on what happens this year?
TYLER CLARY:  The door isn't closed, and I apologize if there has been any misunderstanding with what my goals are.  For me, I've seen and gotten the chance to experience what automotive racing might be like, and that's something I've been around for a long time, it's something I've been interested in for a long time, and it's something that I think I would be really good at, and I think I would enjoy it.  Not to say I don't enjoy swimming in any way.  I love it; it's gotten me to where I am now.  It's fantastic.
Kind of the way things are right now is if I get an opportunity at some point to make a serious endeavor into racing as a professional, I would have to consider that, not to say that there is no chance for an Olympics after this at all.

Q.  You might have kind of answered this by talking about your expectations for '08, but how disappointing was that?  What was it like going through that experience?  Does it help coming into this?
TYLER CLARY:  It was very disappointing, obviously, looking up and seeing that you got third when the top‑two go.  It hurts!  At the same time, though, I got the chance to sit down after the Olympics were over and kind of‑‑ I'm sorry after the Olympic Trials were over and saying to myself "I wish I was there.  What I would give to be there" but I look at my races, and nothing I could have done would have been any better.  I swam the best race I had at that point, and it wasn't good enough.  It's bitter sweet.
I want the U.S. to do as well as possible, and if that means I'm not on the team then that's better for the U.S.  That being said, that was that much more fire for me over the last four years coming into this meet.  I don't want that to be the case again.  On that note, I'll actually never forget watching the 4x100 relay and seeing how far behind we were and thinking, "There is no way we're going to make this.  There is no way we're going to do it," and Jason kept coming back and coming back, and everybody else in the house was asleep and I was yelling, "Yes!"  My dad came out screaming and said, "What's wrong?"  And I was like, "We just won the relay!"
It was awesome.

Q.  Tyler, would you prefer to have both Michael and Ryan in the final with you Monday night, all things being equal, or does it matter?
TYLER CLARY:  Right now it doesn't matter.  This is one of the only meets in the world where first place is as good as second.  It's not going to change what I do in the pool on Monday night whether or not he's in it, it really is not.  I'm going to throw down and swim the best race I've got.  That being said, I think I've been training to beat the World Champion for the last year in that event, and I think I can do it.  So I think if both of them are in it, great, if not, I think I'm still going to make the team.

Q.  As a follow to that, do you expect Michael to be in that race Monday night?
TYLER CLARY:  My expectations are no, but stranger things have happened.

Q.  Tyler, can you give us insight to your training, what it's like at Fullerton?  It was a high‑profile group with the female Olympians, and a coach, and a lot of transition, but how did it all shake out for you?  What level of consistency has it been for you there at Fullerton?
TYLER CLARY:  There is not a lot of people that can have the consistency that you talked about going from one program to another.  I got to go from one side of the country to the other side of the country, back home, and still train with the same coach.  Not many people can say that and it's something I'm lucky for.  But my training, thankfully, was able to take a little bit of a different focus going from, okay, I got to go to practice, now I got to make sure I have enough energy to go to class and stay awake and do the other things that are associated with being a college student, to getting to come out to California and train as a professional with a professionally‑minded group.
You still have things that you need to commit to outside of the pool, but they're not as regular nor are they as stressful as they would be in college.
It was nice to come out to California and focus on what I wanted to do with my‑‑ as far as my goals are concerned on an international level.
THE MODERATOR:  Tyler, thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck this week. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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