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Cody Miller: Rising Above the Pressure

12/18/2013

Cody Miller (large)

By Mike Watkins//Correspondent

Cody Miller knows he’s in good company sharing a special connection with fellow swimmer Nathan Adrian and pop superstar Janet Jackson.

 

Unfortunately for the University of Indiana senior, it’s not a gold medal or a Grammy Award.

 

Just like Adrian did at an Arena Grand Prix meet last season and Jackson did at the Super Bowl a decade ago, Miller experienced the sheer terror and embarrassment of a wardrobe malfunction – his coming in the form of a ripped swimsuit at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

 

Relatively unfazed, Miller took the rip in stride, running into the stands for a quick behind-the-towel suit change and returning to take the blocks to swim his heat.

 

“I was doing a couple of squats, loosening up before taking the blocks, and felt the fabric of my suit rip right down the backside,” Miller said. “Funny enough, it wasn’t the first time it happened. It also happened at Big Ten Championships, although that was a small rip. I had to change at Trials or I would have mooned the audience.”

 

Miller admits the experience caused a slight distraction but he still swam fast enough to make the top 16 and live another day toward achieving his Olympic dream.

 

And while he didn’t make it into the event finals, he did learn a lot about himself as a competitor and person: he’s pretty fearless.

 

“Swimming at an elite level is all about handling pressure, so if you can handle the pressure of your suit splitting at the biggest meet of your life, you can handle pretty much anything,” said Miller, who hails from Las Vegas. “I could have let it distract me, but I chose instead to focus on the event and laugh it off. There weren’t too many alternatives.”

 

Now more than a year removed from his Trials “experience,” Miller is ripping through the water rather than swimsuits.

 

Earlier this summer, he competed for the United States at the World University Games in Russia and this weekend, he’s back in the water representing the United States in the biggest meet of his career so far: the 2013 Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool.

 

Being relatively new to the international scene, Miller said he is excited to compete on behalf of the United States against most of Europe’s best, but he also understands the significance of the meet.

 

The United States has never lost the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool since the competition started as a U.S. vs Australia rivalry 10 years ago.

 

“This is a big deal, and I know that, we all do, especially without Michael (Phelps) and Ryan (Lochte) on the team for the first time since this started,” said Miller, who isn’t sure yet which event or events he will swim in Glasgow, although most likely it will be the 200 individual medley and possibly the breaststrokes.

 

“But I’m incredibly excited. I just want to contribute, and I refuse to get caught up in putting pressure on myself because then I’ll just start to make mistakes.”

 

Miller said he believes perhaps his lack of big-meet experience will play in his favor when he takes the water Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland.

 

While not his first international meet, Miller said he is excited to be a member of such a prestigious U.S. team and representing his country against some of the world’s best international competition.

 

He’s also eager to prove what he calls a “not great” performance at the World University Games in July became a learning experience as he moves forward and upward.

 

Nonetheless, he’s come a long way since he started swimming as an 8-year-old at his club in Las Vegas at the urging of his mother, who was afraid of the water herself.

 

At the halfway point in his final collegiate season, Miller said he isn’t satisfied with where he is in his swimming as he chases an elusive individual NCAA championship next March.

 

He knows he has work to do to get there, and he’s willing to push himself to new levels in order to reach his goals.

 

“My season is going pretty well so far, and I’ve been focusing on getting better at swimming fast when I’m tired; that will prepare me for when I’ve tapered and I’m feeling fresh,” said Miller, a movie buff and video game enthusiast. “I’ll be even faster as a result of that.

 

“With this being my last year, I’m excited to finish strong and really go after winning my first NCAA title – and help my team at the same time. But for now I’m ready to swim for my country at the Duel and help bring home another team win.”