By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Friday, November 22, 2019
In most ways, Aly Tetzloff is living her post-college dream.
Not only is she able to focus solely on swimming without the entanglements and distractions of classes and collegiate swim meets, but she’s free to travel over weekends for Fitter & Faster clinics, prepare and cook nutritious meals for herself and relax and take restorative naps, read and binge on Netflix and Hulu without having to worry about studying for a test.
On top of all of that, she still gets to see and swim with her former Auburn teammates and coaches as she continues to train on campus for a shot at next year’s Olympic team.
Suffice it to say, in her view, her college graduation – and the next competitive phase of her life – couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I loved college and college swimming, but I’m really enjoying the best of both worlds right now,” said Tetzloff, who, because of her new “freer” schedule, now enjoys regular trips to the grocery store. “My teammates ask me now what it’s like not going to school and not taking classes, and I can tell them that I feel like my body recovers so much better now.
“But being able to keep training with my college teammates and coaches and stay connected to people who mean so much to me while swimming professionally is working out very well. I love it.”
It wasn’t long ago – earlier this year, in fact – that Tetzloff, who completed her degree in psychology this past May, contemplated making NCAA Championships the end of her swimming career.
She wasn’t progressing as she’d hoped and her enthusiasm for the sport was under fire – capped by the fact that she didn’t swim fast enough at 2018 Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships to qualify for any international teams in 2018 or 2019.
Tetzloff met with her coaches Gideon Louw and Duncan Sherrard and assessed where she was and where she would want to be in her swimming if she stuck with it for at least another year.
Once she laid out those plans and had a strategy to achieve what she wanted, the rest has been gravy.
She finished among the top 3 in her signature 100 butterfly event this summer at Phillips 66 Nationals and earned her first appointment to the U.S. National Team.
Photo courtesy Cody Baker and Dan Froehlich
It’s all coming together for her – and just in time with 2020 Trials just over half a year away.
“I’ve really never been one to put a lot of pressure on myself, but now that I know what I want and I really feel like I know how to achieve it, a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” said Tetzloff, who joined her first competitive club team when she was six and excelled right away.
In addition to being able to make more time for Fitter & Faster, Tetzloff said she has been able to continue stoking her competitive fire by competing for the International Swim League (ISL) as a member of the LA Current.
So far, she’s competed in three ISL meets and says there is definitely a “Trials” feel to the meets as they are not only about great swimming but also about putting on a show that fans of – and newcomers – to the sport will love and appreciate.
“Traditional swim meets can be kind of boring for spectators, but ISL has made it more of a production with entertainment, lights and music to keep people consistently engaged and excited,” she said. “It’s what people have come to expect from sporting events, and ISL delivers again and again.
“I see a lot of opportunity for growth, and two new teams and a six-month slate of meets are planned for next season. It’s another great way for swimmers to keep swimming beyond college.”
While ISL teams continue to lift the sport from a spectator’s perspective, few do and have done what Olympic Trials does every four years, according to Tetzloff.
She competed at the 2016 Trials but said she saw it as an opportunity to learn from and experience a meet of that caliber and importance for the future.
Tetzloff had just completed her freshman year at Auburn and was coming into her own as a competitive swimmer at the national level.
But next summer, she knows her perspective and expectations will be much different after all the recent success she’s enjoying in the pool.
Beyond that, she’s not sure what the future holds for her – swimming and otherwise. She’s already thinking about what she would like to do once her competitive career is over – sports psychology, coaching – the future is wide open for her.
But for now, her focus is centered around maximizing the next six-plus months so she is in the best position to contend for a spot on her first Olympic team – a dream she’s only just recently accepted is a definite possibility.
“When I was little, I definitely dreamed of swimming at the Olympics, but during my teens and more recently at Auburn, I doubted that was a real possibility,” said Tetzloff, who qualified for Trials in 2012 as well as the U.S. Open and Speedo Junior Nationals in 2012 but chose not to compete. “But that’s all changing now. I absolutely know that I’ve got a shot to make next year’s team – either in the 100 fly or on the relay in the 100 freestyle.
“Trials in 2016 were absolutely overwhelming for me, but I still had the time of my life. I’m glad I got that first experience out of the way, because when I come to Omaha next summer, my goals and expectations will be different than they were four years earlier. I’m definitely excited to see how everything plays out.”