Among those looking forward to this weekend’s Missouri Grand Prix is Arizona alum Annie Chandler. The National Teamer talks about her college championship, what it is like having one of the world’s fastest swimmers as a boyfriend, and why she decided to keep training until 2012 in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
Don't miss the Missouri Grand Prix, Feb. 18-21, in Columbia. The event will be webcast live each day on usaswimming.org/webcasts. Prelims begin at 9 a.m. Central Time, with finals beginning at 5:30 p.m. For more information about the meet, go to usaswimming.org/grandprix.
1. What’s your goal for the Missouri Grand Prix?
Annie: To have fun competing, and I will have some times in mind. The main thing is to gauge where I am. We’re doing not what I would call a crash taper, but I am going to shave for this meet because I don’t have any big meets in the near future. I might as well swim fast if I have the opportunity to do so.
2. What events are you doing in Missouri?
Annie: I am planning on the 50 free, 100 free, 100 breast and 200 breast. That seems like plenty for me. Rick DeMont posted what events he thought we would want to swim, and he had me in the 200 IM. He said, “Just cross it out.” I did, he revised the sheet, and (laugh) I am still signed up for it. So we will see. I probably won’t be swimming the 200 IM though.
3. You seem pretty low key about swimming right now. Is that accurate?
Annie: Not at all. I am excited. It’s something that Rick and Matt (Grevers) my boyfriend also notice. But it’s just that I’m not really charismatic in that matter. I get excited internally. You might not be able to tell from my face what I am feeling, but I am really excited.
4. Is dating someone like Matt Grevers a good thing for your own swimming career?
Annie: You know, I think it’s really good for my swimming – in some ways. Sometimes it is hard. I have tried to explain to him where I am at, and he is like, “You don’t understand how good you are.” I tell him, “Matt, look at you and how talented you are.” I mean….I am swimming in a group surrounded by Matt and Olympians, so it’s easy to get into a rut and think, “What am I doing here?” But a lot of times, Matt can get me back on track mentally. Last season I was really bummed I didn’t make Short Course Worlds or long course. That’s another story though, about having one meet to qualify for THREE meets… But back to Matt – he wants to be a coach someday, and he will make a great one because he’s such a great motivator.
5. He’s really good at that?
Annie: That’s one of his strengths. I know that a lot of people see how relaxed Matt is, and he really does have fun with it, but he is very competitive. My examples of competitive people – what I was used to – are people who are hyper and intense. I modeled myself after those people. But then I realized there is another way to be competitive, and not show it all the time. The relaxed approach is the way to do it, for me. Besides, I think very intense people can burn out the fastest. You don’t need to eliminate that all together, but it is important to be able relax behind the blocks.
6. What’s it like having Amanda Beard back training at Arizona?
Annie: There is somebody who is able to come back to the sport whenever she wants to. I don’t practice with Amanda. She trains under Frank (Busch), which is a bit of a shame for me. But then I see her pump it out in practice and that could be (laughs) demoralizing for me. I am not known as a trainer. My times come at the end of the season, and I have to be patient with my body. I have gotten to know Amanda’s personality, and she is a very fun-loving girl. There is something you can learn from all of these successful people. Like Lochte, Matt, Aaron Peirsol… Aaron was always as cool as a cucumber. Those three and Amanda don’t waste extra energy over-thinking their races. They have thought about them plenty when they swam them in practice. That is something I am still working on. It’s also something that is not easier having been on a college team.
7. You miss college swimming?
Annie: I miss so many things about college swimming. But one thing I don’t miss is having to show energy at all times even when you don’t have it. I am only accountable to myself right now, which takes a load off my back, though I do miss that load at times.
8. Frank Busch is now director of the National Team. Pretty good options with all the talent on U of A’s coaching staff to succeed him, isn’t there?
Annie: Yes, exactly. It’s been talked about a lot lately since Frank took the director job, which I think is a great fit for him. Everyone is going to be a great head coach. Whitney (Hite) has been a head coach. Rocket (Rick DeMont) has such a wealth of experience and depth of knowledge in the sport. Auggie (Busch) has the same spirit of hisdDad, which can definitely carry a team. Really, you can’t lose putting someone whom we already have on staff in charge. That does speak a lot about the kind of program Frank built here.
9. How cool was it swimming with Lacey Nymeyer and Whitney Myers?
Annie: Whitney and Lacey could not have been more different. I remember Whitney dancing behind the blocks and Lacey with her tunnel vision on her lane. That’s one of the great aspects of the coaching staff here. They cater to your own individual style.
10. You are such a talented writer. Are you writing now?
Annie: Right now, I am doing an internship at the Tucson Museum of Art. I get to write a little bit, but not much – not as much as I’d like to do someday.
11. How about TV broadcasting?
Annie: That’s something I’m not real comfortable with, actually. I don’t know if it’s a comfort factor but I just don’t have a desire to be in front of the camera. I think being a broadcast journalist you are not allowed as much time – obviously you to be on your toes – but I like the thought and time you can put into an article when you are writing it for print.
12. Have you gotten any direction on a career?
Annie: Karen Crouse of the New York Times – her cousin’s wife works for my dad, and at Pan Pacs she kind of took me under her wing. She told me I had to be patient with my journalism career. She had pursued swimming instead of a career at first and said it was a decision she would never take back. But it is rough to get into the field while you are occupied in the water.
13. How cool is your hometown, San Antonio?
Annie: San Antonio was a great place to grow up. That’s the only place I have lived besides Tucson. I am not a girl who is (laughs) real comfortable with change. On my recruiting trip, Tucson reminded me of San Antonio in terms of climate and being a city but not too big. I always thought I would go back to San Antonio after a few years, but now I realize Tucson is a place I could be for a while. I really like it here. I have three older brothers who all went back to San Antonio after college. But if I were to go back to Texas, I’d go to Austin.
14. Why did you leave Texas for college?
Annie: My parents, like any parents (laughs) from Texas, wanted me to stay in Texas. I had my mind set to go out of state. To appease them, I took a trip to SMU. Celina Lemmen – actually, both of the Lemmen sisters – went there. It seemed like SMU had a consistent top 10 program, or were working their way up there when I was looking at schools. So I took a trip there to get my “Texas trip” (laughs) out of the way. I went to Auburn and really liked that. I just felt like Arizona was the best fit for me.
15. The NCAA title, swimming with such great swimmers and for such great coaches – Arizona worked out well for you, didn’t it?
Annie: Really, we hit all the high points I could have ever asked for throughout my college career. I was talking recently to Alyssa Anderson about that, and it’s like I could not have asked for a more fairytale-esque ending to my career. The class I came in with had a bunch of studs. I remember coming to school every day after being at practice with the most competitive group of girls I have ever been around. Praise would be passed around in the locker room after practice. That’s what I loved. People took note of what their teammates were doing. Just knowing teammates were there watching you, pushing you, was inspiring.
16. Who did you look up to as a young swimmer?
Annie: I didn’t really become a big swim nerd until high school – and that was later on in high school. I always looked up to Natalie Coughlin. Once I got to school, Lacey was for a long time. She’s an awesome human being. Those two really stick out to me. Lacey has told me – Matt and I have “couples dinners” with her and her husband – that she doesn’t miss competing at all. That’s what I was talking about, where the intensity gets to you.
17. Arizona is great for so many reasons. Do you like swimming outside?
Annie: I think I had that high school dream of going to California and living that dream, swimming outside. But I only needed to get as far as Arizona to feel “West Coastie.”
18. Isn’t the PAC 10 awesome?
Annie: It is. The places you get to go… It’s just a legendary conference, really. You can ask any of the girls on the team, and they always know how intense that Stanford meet was, where we lost by fewer than five points multiple times. There’s a certain fire within all the duals and all the schools. But with Cal, we always felt like that was our sister school, so when we won NCAAs we felt like Cal was cheering us on as much as we were, and we were cheering them on. When in 2009 we had a relay DQ and could not win it, we were pulling for Cal. That connection runs pretty deep.
19. Did you play other sports when you were younger?
Annie: I did ballet and gymnastics until I realized (laugh) how much taller I was than everyone else. So then I did volleyball and basketball. The only time I felt abnormal is in classes sitting down, and then I would stand up and be so much taller than everyone else.
20. You like a lot of classic stuff – movies, art, books. Where does that come from?
Annie: I was kind of raised that way. I was in a home where Jimmy Stewart was the man – and he still is the man! I read an article about how business is slowing down at the Jimmy Stewart Museum and I thought, “Oh man, we need to publicize that place!”