Q & A with Peter Vanderkaay — Former student-athlete, current Olympian

Could you give people who don’t know who you are a short bio on you?

Graduated from Rochester Adams High School 02′
Graduated from University of Michigan 06′
Hometown: Rochester, MI
2-time Olympian 04′ and 08′
3-time medalist, 2 gold (4×200), one bronze (200 free)
Currently lives in Gainesville, FL

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a professional athlete?

Being a pro athlete is great because I have a very unique work experience everyday.  I get to do something that I really enjoy.  My job is basically to stay in top physical condition and be healthy.  The downside is the constant grind of training, always feeling tired, and never being able to take vacations.

Describe your most memorable swimming moment?

It’s hard to pick just one moment, but winning the gold medal in 04′ in the 4×200 free relay stands out.  I just remember the thrill of the win because the race was so close.  It was totally an upset and I think there was a smile on my face for days after we won.

What are your hopes for the 2012 Olympics? For yourself and the other U.S. swimmers?

My goal for the 2012 Olympics is to make the team first.  Then, I want to be able to win medals in every event that I qualify for.  Obviously as a team, we want to win as many medals as possible.  Making the team is the first step though…

What is your relationship to other U.S. Olympics swimmers? Who would you consider yourself closest to?

My relationship with my USA teammates is really good.  Even though we don’t all train together, when we do get together, we pick up right where we left off.  I have known many of the people on the national team for many years now so it’s fun to have that connection.  I’d stay I’m closest to the guys that I have trained with though.  That includes guys that have swam at Michigan and Florida.

Give us the diet and exercise plan of an Olympic swimmer?

The diet is pretty much whatever I want to eat.  I burn enough calories everyday that quantity really isn’t an issue.  I’m in the pool for about 20 hours a week, plus at least another 10 hours of dry-land conditioning.  However, I try really hard to eat healthy and balanced because I feel better when I’m eating well.  What I eat is pretty much the fuel my body uses to swim, so it’s important to use high quality fuel.

What are you plans for your post-Olympic career?

My plans after this summer aren’t set in stone.  I may continue swimming if everything goes well.  I also would like to travel for a little while and experience some things that I haven’t been able to do…like take a vacation!

What is some advice you would give to student-athletes trying to balance academics, sports and their social lives?

The best advice I can give is to stay on top of your work.  It’s really important to plan ahead and budget your time wisely.  I think it’s also important to set aside a little bit of time for social activities and relaxing, so that you don’t get burned out either.
Photo courtesy of Peter Vanderkaay
About Claire Van Raaphorst 33 Articles
Claire is a senior from Rochester, MI. She is a double major in English and Communication Studies and a minor in Art History.

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