By Bob Schaller//Contributor | Tuesday, October 17, 2017
In this Part 2, University of Louisville swimmer and Plainwell, Michigan, native Mallory Comerford explains how she got into swimming, what her options were, and what keeps her motivated. She also talks about doing more with less, as she explains in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1. What was it like having Louisville coach Arthur Albiero at Worlds?
Mallory: It was so awesome. It was amazing to have him there with me. My first experience at Worlds like that, there was a huge learning curve, from how everything works just to having an eight-day meet. So having him there was super helpful and I was able to feel more comfortable. But honestly, all of our coaches were great. I know Arthur was honored to represent Team USA and he worked so hard to earn that.
2. How did the US, and especially the women, rise up on relays every time?
Mallory: We set a goal as a team to win every relay. That was a really big part. The atmosphere that is created at Worlds representing the United States is so special. You are feeding off that positive energy from everything and determined to get in and race. The girls and guys were both so hungry. It was such a great opportunity to learn and grow so much.
3. You came from a small club how did that prepare you for college?
Mallory: It was definitely perfect for me. It was a small, six-lane, 25-yard pool. Looking back, it was what set me up for my success. Coach Jeff (Russell) set me up for how to work hard, to be able to come to Louisville and be ready for the challenge. I’ll be forever grateful for my club experience. And it’s a good reminder that you don’t always have to have the biggest and the best -- it’s what you do with it, and if you have great people and a good attitude, you can achieve any dream. That was where I learned the importance of hard work, and to enjoy it. Jeff was also good at using the resources to the fullest -- that’s what he was best at.
4. What was Worlds camp like?
Mallory: Camp was in Croatia and we had the most beautiful views right on the sea. Waking up to that every day was just incredible. I trained with different people and was able to see how they train and what they do. That is so much fun. Every day of training camp was so different, because we were tapering so not everyone was swimming a bunch but it was so fun to talk with different coaches and have different people there to help you.
5. In addition to your five golds at 2017 Worlds, you also reeled in two golds and a silver at 2016 Short Course Worlds, what was that like?
Mallory: It was awesome! The Short Course worlds was the first time the flag was on my cap, and then Budapest was my first international long course meet.
6. You come home from Budapest with all those golds, on a serious level about travel, is that odd in some ways or difficult with airport security?
Mallory: Yes! It is a little bit. I only got stopped once and once they realized it you get used to it and just go through it. And my bag was super heavy! But that’s a great problem to have. My Mom was like, “Bring them all home, please,” and I was like, “Mom, of course.”
7. Your hometown in Michigan really made a big deal about this, how cool was that?
Mallory: It’s amazing to see how much support and love I have from back home. I had so many text messages, things on Facebook -- it’s just so amazing to know you have that community there supporting you and your family so much, and cheering for you no matter what happens. Coming home I got to see a lot of people and say, “Thank you.”
8. At Louisville do your college classmates know about Worlds and who you are?
Mallory: Some people, yes. In class no one really says anything. But a lot of people, especially younger swimmers, really enjoy seeing the medals and that’s been really cool. The university and city is also really good about publicizing all of our sports. So it’s really cool to be able to be recognized with so many other athletes who have been really successful here. It’s been a fun journey.
9. When did you start swimming?
Mallory: I was like 7 years old. My older brother swam and my Mom swam in college -- that’s how we got into it. So I decided to swim, too. I fell in love it, though at first it was a social thing because all my friends swim, too. I’m very competitive and that side came out of me. I love to race and workout at the same time.
10. What other sports did you play?
Mallory: I played volleyball in middle school and ran track until freshman year of high school. I was okay at volleyball, and as a team we were okay -- I just loved it because my friends played it and it was a chance to compete. I actually did pretty well in running but I decided not to do that any further into high school since I was getting busier with school and swimming. My Mom had been a runner too so that’s how I got into it.
11. Is that part of your dryland still?
Mallory: I definitely still continue to run. I think dryland played a big part in building my aerobic base outside the pool. The staff here came up with a program where I can continue running throughout the year -- running and biking, and different kinds of circuits. That has helped me develop into a much better swimmer. That’s a great part about college because they have a lot of resources to help you improve and reach your potential. Not everyone is the same of course but for me running was a key part of it and remains something that helps me.
12. Your family’s support seems important -- what has that been like?
Mallory: It’s been amazing. My family has always been super supportive of me over my whole athletic career -- supportive as long as I work hard and do my best. To have them there at Worlds and NCAAs and be able to swim for them means so much because they can see the hard work pay off. I am so thankful to them for shaping me into who I am as a person today and their role in helping me realize my potential.
13. What does being a good teammate mean to you?
Mallory: First of all, it means so much to me. My teammates are important people. They helped me get to this level. I like being there for them, too. I enjoy working with different teammates and helping them, from freshmen to seniors. Because they have all worked so hard and give so much to help make me better. I also like being with them outside the pool. I am so blessed to have such a great team.
14. What does being selected a team captain at Louisville this year mean?
Mallory: It’s amazing. This team, these girls who all came before us, have set up such a legacy. Being a team captain means you have a responsibility to carry that tradition on and build upon it. It’s a huge honor and responsibility. I hope to help make this team better, support my teammates and work towards our goals.
15. What’s your favorite dryland in college?
Mallory: We’ll do some running in the football stadium -- which is hard and not really my favorite (laughs) part of running! But then we’ll break into teams of 5 or 6 and have competitions in each corner of the stadium. It’s a neat program and we’ll get tasks to accomplish so it makes it really fun.
16. Who is a teammate from Worlds who you looked up to before meeting her?
Mallory: Definitely Elizabeth Beisel. Being on a team (in Hungary) with Beisel was just so cool, getting to know her and see how much of a role model she really is, and how great a person she is. It was so amazing to watch her lead us.
17. Anyone from the past?
Mallory: Definitely Natalie Coughlin is someone I have always looked up to as an amazing swimmer and an amazing person. And she’s been so fast for so long, and done so many strokes.
18. What’s your favorite show?
Mallory: My favorite TV show is Parks and Recreation -- it’s just funny. I can sit there and cry from laughing so hard. It’s very dry humor. I love it. Recently I watched Hidden Figures and I really liked that. It’s about NASA. It’s very different and inspiring, about never giving up on your dreams no matter what your situation is.
19. How about a movie?
Mallory: Billy Madison. I really like that. It’s so funny. I enjoy it every time. I used to watch it with my entire family so I think that’s why I still like it so much now, because I remember enjoying it with them and being in their company so fondly.
20. How unique is the experience of representing your country?
Mallory: Every time you put that cap on, it is so cool -- it’s almost unbelievable. That’s a little kid’s dream to have your name on the cap with an American flag. So it’s something I’ll never forget and I will keep caps from both of those meets for a long time. It’s really a big honor to represent the U.S.