By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
David Plummer just barely missed making the Olympic team, finishing in 3rd place at the U.S. Olympic Trials by .12 seconds. Plummer now continues his training in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He plans on attending the first stop of the Grand Prix series, the Minneapolis Grand Prix. We caught up with David to kick off our article series previewing Grand Prix swimmers, coaches, teams, and communities…
So what did you do after the Trials? Did you take time off?
I did take some time off. Actually I took a sizable road trip from Minnesota, straight west and north and through San Francisco and through California and saw the Grand Canyon. I went back through Oklahoma and back to Minnesota. I was gone for three and a half weeks.
Was that a solo trip?
I went with my dog.
What was the mission with the trip?
The biggest thing was, I had kind of cleared my schedule for planning on making the Olympic team. Everyone with a great shot did that for themselves. After I didn’t make it, my wife was working long hours, so I didn’t have a lot to do. It’s something I thought about doing for a long time. My brother lives in San Francisco and I have an uncle who lives in Oceanside. I did some camping on my way to California. I stayed with family while I was there, then I came through Oklahoma City where my mom is at, where I’m from. It was just kind of a way to kill time. Decide what I wanted to do from there.
Did you watch the Olympics?
I did not. I did not. I kept up with all the results. Just because its my team, I wanted to know the U.S. was doing well. I watched very, very little of the Olympics.
What were your thoughts when Grevers and Thoman went 1-2? How much does that tell you about USA’s sprint backstroke depth?
It is nice to know the two guys who beat me beat everyone else. That the U.S is standing on the top of that podium. Not just me, but the backstrokers who came before us. We’ve always been so good and so deep in that event. At the same time, I think everyone in that 3rd place position – there is some regret, “Could I have done that better?” As for how the guys did, it was awesome to see.
What are you doing now – are you swimming?
Before Trials, I had initially decided I was for sure going to swim another year or two. I think while I was on that road trip, it confirmed that that’s what I wanted to do. I’m not done yet. I’m too passionate and excited about the opportunities in front of me. It’s taken me some time to get back into the full swing of things. I can’t even say I’m completely there. But I’m on the way.
Was it difficult to get back into the pool and training? Have you been staying active outside the pool?
I’ve been staying pretty active. The cool thing about Minnetonka is we have a lot of younger people on the staff who work out a ton. We set up different dryland routines that we do at the pool. I’m back and lifting a little bit with my coach at the University of Minnesota. The pool is the slowest thing to get back into. Earlier on in my career, high school and college, those little breaks, it seems when I came back from them, it seemed like I forgot how to swim. It’s almost like now, when I take that time off, it’s much easier to get back into the pool I feel it hasn’t been as long as it has. With each passing year, it gets harder physically to get back into the pool, but easier mentally.
What are your goals in the sport, both short term and long term?
In the past few years, I’ve really enjoyed my training and swimming for myself. I think that that’s my biggest goal. Make sure I am enjoying this. That I’m enjoying the process more than anything. If I’m not enjoying the process, then it’s not going to work out for me to continue to do this. With going through that race and what – sort of how much it took out of me, if anyone asked me the question if I’m going to keep swimming that day, there was no way I would have said yes. It hurt. It was a heartbreaker. I think that ensuring that day to day that I enjoy what I do will be the most important thing from here. I’m definitely looking at if I’m not competitive, if I’m not approaching my best times, I’ll be done. But I’m definitely at the point where I think that can still happen.
The Minneapolis Grand Prix is coming up. What do you want to accomplish there?
I’m really excited to race again. Since Trials, I feel like I have something to prove or something to get out. As hard as I trained, it’s not going to be the same as getting back into the race. That’s the most important thing – into that finals situation. Getting back to racing is the most important thing. Seeing how that is and how that feels.
Are you looking forward to getting back and racing in front of your home crowd?
Yeah. Absolutely. I’ve always loved swimming at the “U.” [University of Minnesota.] I was lucky when I was at school we had some Big Tens and NCAA Championships there. I’ve had some big, big races in that pool. It’s always great to get swims in at the “U.”
Looking forward, are you excited about the journey ahead?
Honestly, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. I’m going day to day. From everything I’ve heard, and mostly my conversations with Ben, my coach, from everything he’s seen and found out, the biggest thing to do from here is to make sure I handle my swims at Trials. To make sure I process what happened and not block it out. So, it sort of is a matter of getting my head straight. I’ll have no problem looking forward. I’ve never had trouble dreaming of what I want to happen, you know?
What has been the one thing you’ve learned about yourself in this journey from this past summer?
I think the biggest thing at this point is that it’s been harder to give up than to keep going. There’s still so much I want to accomplish in this sport. I still feel my best race is inside me. Until I can get that out and truly feel in that one race I gave everything I had and it happened the way I wanted it to and I got everything out -- until I do that, I don’t know if I’ll be capable of retiring.
Will Nationals be your shave and taper meet?
I think the goal is always nationals. Trying to get back on the travel teams. But between now and then I’ll probably take a short rest for the Pro-Am in OK City, go home and swim in front of my family and old friends and old coaches and try to make a little money over Christmas. Couple training trips, and then we’ll head to Nationals.