U.S. Olympian inspires swimmers at clinic


ive-time Olympic medalist and former world record holder Ian Crocker visited with more than 40 teenagers, including several Malibu swimmers, at a clinic last week in Culver City.

Crocker flew to California to meet with swim club Team Santa Monica (TSM) to share his own successes and failures as an athlete while demonstrating the finer points of swimming.

Malibu swimmer Brandon Yong even got to take in the gold medal-winning experience himself. Not only did Yong, 13, speak to Crocker in person, he got to wear Crocker’s gold medal from the U.S. victory in the 4 x 100 medley relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I thought it would be heavier,” Yong said.

The presence of someone who had made it to the top had a big effect on the youths who came to hear Crocker speak.


“I was astonished because I have never seen an Olympic swimmer or gold medalist,” Yong said. “Just to meet him and take a picture with him was incredible.”

Crocker, 29, was born and raised in Portland, Maine, and currently resides in Austin, Texas. He won gold medals in the 2000 Sydney Games, 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games. He has also won a silver and a bronze medal in Olympic competition.

Crocker was invited by TSM Coach Dave Kelsheimer to come by and impart his knowledge to a new generation of swimmers.

“Ian is just a good guy who is very passionate about his sport,” Kelsheimer said. “We were really blessed to have an athlete of his caliber be here. He’s d t all within the sport of swimming.’

Crocker said it was fun to get to speak to the next generation.

“I’ve always enjoyed visiting with kids,” Crocker said. “This is a great culture to be around and it was cool to come here and get a taste of it.’

Crocker retired after the 2008 Olympic Games and now spends time doing clinics and sharing with others what it meant to be an Olympian and what is needed to be the very best.

“Ultimately what you have to do is set goals and make stepping stones in order to reach those goals. You need to have direction on a day-to-day basis and a reason for why you are working so hard. Small goals add up to big ones over time.’

Crocker spent the first hour of the clinic teaching the swimmers his keys to success. He emphasized how vital it is to get off to a good start in a race by mastering the technique of jumping off the platform into the pool.

“This is where it all starts,” Crocker said. “Our sport is defined in hundreds of a second. Learning the little details and utilizing your body in the right way separates winning from losing.”

He also demonstrated the value of dolphin kicks and streamlining under water as well as the accuracy of doing a flip turn at the wall.

Jordan Wilimovsky, a senior at Malibu High School and one of the best swimmers for TSM, gleaned some valuable advice from Crocker that he hopes to take with him in future competitions.

“He told us how important it is to stay confident at meets,” Wilimovsky said. “It was really fun to hang out with him and learn about different drills and technique.”

“He went from nothing to becoming an Olympic medalist,” Yong said. “He shared how much he trained and concentrated to be the best.”

When Crocker finished instructing, Kelsheimer surprised everyone by challenging six swimmers to race against Crocker in the 50-meter butterfly.

Oohs and aahs could be heard as the former world record holder in the 100-meter butterfly glided across the water. Not surprisingly, Crocker finished a couple body lengths ahead of the next swimmer with a blazing time of 21.60 seconds.

“To see him race today was very cool,’ Wilimovsky said.

Crocker spent the last 20 minutes of the clinic discussing his ups and downs in the swimming profession. He talked about his battles against Michael Phelps, being afraid while away from home as a youth, his nervousness before meets as well as the glory that came from his many accomplishments.

“Take advantage of your opportunities,’ Crocker said. “The only race that matters in all of swimming is the finals of the Olympics. So go out and beat what you did yesterday.”

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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