TAYLOR MCKEOWN HAS BEEN TO TWO COMMONWEALTH GAMES, TWO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS AND AN OLYMPIC GAMES. WE SPOKE TO HER ABOUT HER PREPARATION, COACHING RELATIONSHIPs AND WHAT HER PLAN IS NEXT.
You have been to Olympic Games, World Championships and 2 Commonwealth Games. How was swimming in front of a home crowd on the Gold Coast?
It was exciting, the Aussies were very enthusiastic. To walk out and know that 90% of the crowd were cheering for you was very uplifting and I know it lifted the team. The results speak for themselves we had our most successful Commonwealth Games ever and most medals won at a championship ever.
What were your highlights of the Commonwealth Games?
An important part of the Commonwealth Games is not only supporting the Australian dolphins, but the entire Aussie team. I tried to get out and watch as many sports as possible. A highlight for me was watching the Men’s Hockey final against New Zealand. It’s always awesome to get one up on the kiwis and to be able to see Mark Knowles the captain, come away with his fourth Gold medal at the commonwealth games was amazing and for me to be able to say I was at that moment is awesome.
After the Commonwealth Games, you shared on social media what you learned from the Commonwealth Games. What advice do you give to other athletes who have worked hard for an event, but just don’t meet their own personal expectations?
For me, whenever I have a bad swim, I take what I can out of it and then put that swim into a box and move it aside and realign my focus on what is coming ahead, like what I can work on to improve my next race. The whole Commonwealth Games was a big learning experience and it definitely taught me things about my own preparation and what I can be doing better both in the pool and out of the pool. My advice to people who can’t seem to perform on race days is to do your best to work out why it didn’t go to plan and my coach always says to me the good athletes find a way and if you are hungry enough and willing enough you are going to find the support and the help you need, whether it is mental or physical. Try setting small goals to begin with, it’s not all about performing on the big day there are steps along the way and if you can tick those boxes you are going to best prepare yourself for that big race.
No-one gets to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games without putting in the hard work. Getting to this level does take a lot of sacrifices, whether it is missing events because you have to rest. Most people think because we train so hard, we can eat whatever we want, but we have very strict diets and we do the little things to best prepare ourselves for the big day.
Chris Mooney has been your coach for the past nine years. What is the importance of having a good relationship with your coach?
I followed Chris from Caboolture down to IndooroopiIly and then eventually back up to the Sunshine Coast. I have been extremely loyal to Chris and we have developed such a great relationship and we have grown in experience together. I trust his process, his trainings and what he is coaching me to do. He is like a father figure to me. Having built the bond, I don’t see the point in searching somewhere else when things don’t go as planned, ninety percent of the time it is usually something I can be doing better. Chris also progressed through the junior ranks and onto the senior team, so he has learnt a lot along the way, as have I. By having a coach, you can trust and has the experience is extremely important. We have grown together and matured together, we have a level of respect and both keep each other accountable. I now get a little bit of say in what I would like to see in the training sessions and we feed off each other’s experiences and combine them to make great things happen.
You are looking at starting your own swim school, has this been something you have always wanted to do?
I have been looking at starting a swim school for over a year now. I have been invited to Swim Clinics before and I love the enthusiasm from kids and seeing their faces light up when you teach them something new and something that will hopefully help them along their swimming journey. I really want to be a part of that. The great thing about the Swim Academy is I can plan it around when I am going to be free. I am excited to be able to teach kids new skills that have helped me, and passing on my knowledge that has helped me through my journey. Not only can I be a figure of guidance if they ever reach out and ask for help, but I also am really enthusiastic about sharing my knowledge.
Australia has such a rich sporting history and if I can do my part, by sharing my knowledge to help the sport grow and be as strong as it can, I would feel very satisfied in myself and extremely privileged to a part of growing the sport. Also, somethings may work for me, but not work for someone else but if I can guide them as best as I can, it is an accomplishment for me as I can change someone else’s life.
What are the ultimate goals for the business?
Opening up a pool and a much larger swim school that is based around the qualities and values that I have learnt through my swimming career, but for now it’s just about finding a spare weekend where I can get awesome enjoyment out of it.
What is your coaching style?
I would take what I have learnt from Chris and how he coaches me and tailor it to a group based on their skill and age. It would be making sure it is intense and skills based and also giving the kids an opportunity to have fun and make new friends. Making the session memorable is important. I have picked up coaching styles from different coaches and experiences, I have learnt what the kids like to do and what they don’t like to do and I would ensure that I can give my attention to everyone.
Now you are back into training again after the Commonwealth Games, what is your training regime like?
For the first couple of weeks we will be focusing on long metres and short rests to get us fit again as quickly possible, before moving onto the next phase, which will be stroke and race focused. We will break up into little groups depending on what stroke you do and then leading into Pan Pacific Championships at the end of the year we will be doing race speeds and wearing our race suits for training to be in the best shape possible.
How do you balance university and your training schedule?
University is definitely secondary, and I always put swimming first. At the moment I am about eight weeks behind university, I do have a lot of catching up to do. The university is very supportive, which makes it so much easier.
Where to next for you?
Basically, everything I am doing now is to best prepare myself for the 2020 Olympics. I just want to keep training well and racing well, and just ticking off little goals along the way, which will hopefully put be in the best position for World Champs next year and the Olympics the following year. Everything we do is planned and tailored, there is a whole group around us whether that be physios, other coaches, psychologists and dietitians. We all work as a big team and all share a common goal.
From now until Tokyo, I would love to get as many great races as I can under my belt, in preparation for the Olympics. There is nothing better, than getting up on the blocks on race day knowing you have left no stone unturned and you can race with confidence is the biggest boost of all. The plan is to be hitting personal best times, or close to them and doing everything right in between.
Header Image via Taylor Mckeown