Let’s take a dip in the pool. Our Women in Sports celebration continues with a young, beautiful, and very driven Team USA Swim Team member, Chloe Sutton. This is a special interview because Chloe took some time away from her busy training schedule to answer some questions for us. She is currently training for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. I assure you, after reading this interview you will be rooting for Chloe this summer. I know we here at Double G Sports will be.
Chloe, can you describe your first memory of you as a swimmer.
My first memory is from my first years of swimming on the Rapids in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I remember how my mom and my coach at the time, Ann, believed so much in my talent. They both would whisper in my ear encouraging words before all of my races. They were both so competitive, that it rubbed off on me. They both pushed me to become the strong, competitive, and independent woman I am today. It’s funny how usually when I think back to my memories of swimming, not much of it is actually the swimming part. My memories are of the people I’ve met, raced against, and been inspired by along the way.
Think of yourself now and how you got to your success. Who played some of the biggest roles in your swimming development?
I’ll start with my biggest supporters, my parents. My dad went to the Air Force Academy in college and then served in the military for over 20 years. My dad isn’t your typical tern military man however, he’s kind and caring and understanding. He has a quiet confidence that I also try to display. If I am unsure of a situation, I know that if I ask my dad, he will give me help towards doing the right thing with the perfect words of guidance.
My mom has definitely been, along with my dad, my top supporter. I started morning practices when I was around 10 years old. Many times, we lived on military bases very far away from the pool. 3:30 AM wake up alarms at my house were very normal. My mom would make me breakfast, load me and my brother in the car (he was too young to stay home alone since my dad would be at work before we got home), and then sit in the parking lot of the pool while I swam. I know it took so much dedication from her to help me realize my dreams. She, to this day, would do anything to help lighten my load. She still wakes up with me before morning practice and makes me breakfast. Then she sits with me while I eat and walks me out to my car! She’s the first person I call after I win a big race. Hopefully, she’ll be able to go to London this summer so that she’ll be the first person I hug after I swim. She is also my best friend and the only one I trust enough to take shopping with me because I know she’ll give me an honest opinion.
My brother, Colin, also has helped me a ton along the way. He had to put up with the (as mentioned earlier) early morning car rides to sit at the pool parking lot, sitting through swim meets, and dealing with my ups and downs. With my dad in the military, we moved about every year and a half my whole life. We moved about 10 times before my brother was 13. Colin has been the only friend I’ve had through all those moves. He has always been my best friend. I hang out with Colin more then I do with many of my girl friends! I can talk to him about everything. It’s also exciting now that he’s beginning to develop his athletic abilities! He’s 6’5″ and 300lbs at 17 and an offensive lineman for his high school. He already has scholarship offers for college as a junior! I go to every single one of his games that I can to try and help repay him for all the swim meets he had to sit through. I’m definitely a proud big sister.
My coach, Coach Bill Rose, is also someone who has helped get me closer to reaching my potential. I never was able to be with a coach for very long with how much we moved, but when I got to coach Rose in 2007, I knew that it was where I belonged. He is an amazing coach and person and I’m grateful to have him in my life.
When you realized that you wanted to take your swimming to the next level, what changes had to be made in your every day life?
When I was six years old and I first joined a swim team, from the moment I dove in the pool, I knew that I was going to the Olympics when I was 16. I told boys that I couldn’t have a boyfriend until after I won my gold medal. Everybody knew me as the swimmer. I wanted to get to the next level from the very beginning. I always made sure that I was doing everything I could to get faster so that one day I could accomplish my dreams. I told all my friends that I couldn’t hang out because I had swim practice. Swimming was my top priority from day one. I never had to really change anything. I just gradually added more hours in the pool and in the gym as I matured. I have been on an athlete’s diet my whole career. It’s been a very challenging lifestyle to grow up with, but I knew it was what I wanted and I loved it. Nobody ever pushed me into this, it always came from me. It’s all starting to pay off now.
And at what age was this dream becoming a reality?
Since I was six years old, like I’ve said, my dream has been the Olympics. Every single birthday candle, wishing well coin, and star that I’ve wished on has been dedicated to the Olympics. My dream became a reality at 16 in 2008 when I walked in the Opening Ceremonies (Beijing). The curse of being an athlete, however, is that I’m still not satisfied. I still have so much to accomplish.
How is training different for an open water race than a race in the pool?
It’s really not very different. I train with a few of the country’s current top open water swimmers. We normally do the same workouts. There are the rare occasions when I do a shorter more specialized set but for the most part, I train a lot of distance.
Which events do you prefer/do you feel you are best at?
My favorite event lately has been the 400 but my favorite race goes back and forth between the 400 and 800 all the time. My favorite is usually whatever I’m ranked higher in at the time.
You have been successful in open water and pool events. What type of training regimen do you follow before competing?
I do whatever Coach Rose tells me to do. Training is really intense every day during the season. Sometimes I am working out at a really high intensity for six hours a day. I train 10-11 times a week in the pool for 2-2.5 hours a workout and then I have a personal trainer that I work with three times a week for 1-1.5 hours. Right before a big competition during the summer we back off a little bit for a “taper” or a rest period so that our muscles can recover. Training is constant, we will occasionally get a Sunday off.
How important is your diet to your success? To the success of women in athletics in general?
Very Important! My mom acts as my nutritionist most of the time. She cooks really healthy meals for me to come home from workouts to. If you don’t put the right fuel in, then you won’t be able to train well. I also weigh myself every day to make sure that I’m where I need to be. If I weigh heavy, I eat a little less that day. If I weigh light, I allow myself to eat a little more. It’s all about being smart. Food is fuel, and that’s it. Sometimes that’s really hard to remember, especially if you stick a piece of chocolate in front of me. It’s ok to have a little fun every once in a while.
And does the fact that you wear a bathing suit compared to a team uniform make you more body conscious on a normal basis?
There is nothing to hide when you’re in a swim suit every day! If you carry a little extra, everybody knows it. I am very body conscious, but again, it’s all about being smart about it.
In a team sport environment everyone pep talks to each other and motivates each other to play hard and WIN. As an athlete in a predominantly individual sport, what motivates you and gets you going to compete hard in the race?
I am very competitive, I don’t need much of a pep talk to get pumped up. I supply that myself. Most swimmers are very independent and self motivated. I do have a great training group however. We all support each other in workouts. There are seven of us and I love them all in their own way. We encourage each other throughout the workouts and high five everyone after we’re done. It’s a great environment.
In your opinion, how important is it to get involved with sports at a young age?
Extremely! Sports teach you so much about discipline, motivation and hard work. All kids should have some athletic activity that they do after school, if it’s a competitive one, that’s even better. Not even mentioning the physical benefits of it. Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle, working with others, and time management are other benefits. I could go on and on.
As a female athlete, do you feel that women are respected in the sports world?
Yes I do! Female athletes work very hard to excel in their sports and I think people can see that.
What can females in the sports industry and female athletes do to promote their ability and show that they are just as successful as their male counterparts?
I think we just have to keep working hard. When people witness how hard we work they’ll realize that we put in just as much effort as men. I do the same workouts on the same intervals as the men in my group. People already respect us, but we still need to keep working hard.
What are some of your goals for the future, since you just turned 20 and you have your whole life ahead of you?!
Well, I have big plans for my swimming career in the next few months. I am not sure how long I plan on swimming, but at this point I can’t imagine stopping. I put off college to train for this year and I am looking forward to putting more focus on my education after the Olympics. At some point, I want to get married and have a family. I love children and I have always known, besides being an Olympic swimmer, that I was destined to be a mom as well. My professional career is also in the works. I love writing so I might want to be a journalist eventually. I also love being in front of the camera, so a broadcast journalist would be amazing as well. In my free time, I do a lot of swim clinics all over the country and I love seeing the kids faces as I talk to them. Their enthusiasm for the sport is infectious. I’d love to do clinics as long as I can as well.
It’s crazy that I’m already 20 and it’s already 2012! There are times when I start to get nervous about what’s to come. I start getting those creeping thoughts of anxiety about this summer and then what comes after. Those thoughts are quickly cut short, however. The loudest voice in my mind knows that I’ve been training for this summer (London Olympics) my whole life and I say to myself, “I’m ready.”Previous Women’s History Month Interviews: Tina Cervasio (MSG Reporter) Jennie Finch (Softball) Jen Royle (Reporter) Carolyn Blank (Sky Blue FC) Chantal Sutherland (Jockey) Jessica Quiroli (MiLB Writer) Brittany Lincicome (LPGA) Jessica Mendoza (Softball) Amanda Pflugrad (FoxSports Reporter) Kylie Fehnel (Lingerie Football League)