By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Wednesday, July 3, 2019Follow Sean Grieshop along with many more of the nation's top swimmer's during the World University Games July 4 - 10.
Sean Grieshop doesn’t swim the 400 individual medley until the last day of World University Games – which begin tomorrow in Naples, Italy – but that’s ok with him.
Having been through the WUGs experience two years ago, finishing seventh in the 400 IM in Taipei, Taiwan, he knows prior to his day of racing, he’s filling a very specific and important role.
“I’m definitely looking forward to cheering on my teammates in Italy,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing the impact hearing your teammates yelling for you from the stands can have on your races. I know they’ll do it for me, so I’m excited to do it for them, too.”
A junior-to-be at Cal-Berkeley this fall, Grieshop underwent some “intense training” at altitude in Colorado Springs the week prior to leaving for WUGs. He said he’s looking forward to seeing how that training translates to his swims in Italy.
He also said he’s preparing to compete at WUGs much more confident – and more mature – this time around with very different expectations.
“I think my first experience was amazing because everything was exciting and new,” Grieshop said. “This time, it will be fun to jump in and race. As much as I would have like to earn a medal at the last WUGs, I was still super honored to have been part of the team and that experience alone was amazing. Like I said, this time, I'm on a mission.
“It (WUGs) will be a test of my diligence and training at Cal. I want to see how the training program at Cal has improved my swimming. It's still early enough for my coaches to make adjustments as we head into a big year of swimming.”
Being part of the Cal family is something Grieshop said he loves – both in the classroom and pool.
He said the team atmosphere, training and classes have all pushed him, and he finds himself elevated to a level at which he loves working and exceling.
That being said, he knows there is and will always be room for improvement.
“I work well with Coaches Dave (Durden) and Chase (Kreitler) every day on that,” said Grieshop, who changed his major to molecular and cell biology with a focus on neurobiology this past year and plans to attend medical school in the future.
“I just finished my sophomore year and am excited about the challenges junior year will bring - classes more specific to my major (biology), and preparation for a great year of swimming, collegiate and Trials.”
And when it comes to competitive swimming, Grieshop said he need look no further than his own goals to find motivation.
He strives every day to improve himself every day in all areas of his life, and he said he relishes that challenge.
His involvement with Athletes in Action, a Christian-based sports organization for student athletes, helps him find strength to work to be a better person.
It helps when the sport he’s loved since he was 4 is still fun. Lots of fun.
“There isn't a day when I dread going to the pool or to a meet,” he said. “There aren't a lot of things in life you can say that about. I love my team – they are like family – and it's nice to be surrounded by family doing something you love.
“I can't help but want to thank my coaches Dave and Chase for supporting me and my dreams. My family is also so important to me and I wouldn't be heading to Italy without their love.”
Despite being just 20 (21 in November), Grieshop is already looking to the future in and out of the pool.
Plans for medical school could be put on hold depending on what happens next summer at Olympic Trials, but for the time being, he said he’s only focusing on the next year.
For him, making the Olympic Team Making the Olympic team has been a life-long dream since he watched Michael Phelps in 2008 as a 9-year-old.
And he knows it won’t be easy because two of the best IMers in the world – Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland – are on the U.S. team and will be difficult to unseat. Both represented the United States in Rio and have been staples at the top of the list ever since.
But Grieshop said he believes in and is excited with what Durden and Kreitler are doing for him, and that he is growing “leaps and bounds” and is working his way into that level.
“I remember thinking ‘I want to be there (2008 Trials)’ and that's been my goal since,” he said. “Trials in 2016 was a great experience because it allowed me to see that the dream can be achieved, and that pushes me even harder. Competing in the water with those guys (Kalisz and Litherland) was once a dream, now it's a reality and is a lot of fun.
“I am mostly looking forward to the year leading up to Trials. I am so excited to dedicate myself to this process and work hard each and every day. My maturity in the water has improved already during my time at Cal, and I hope to see it grow even more in the next 12 months. The opportunity to race at Trials is an amazing honor and I realize that I am extremely fortunate to be there, and am very excited that I will be with my Cal brothers and coaches.”