stuck in my head that I don’t know very
well — that’s always fun for two hours.”
Now — talk about perfect timing —
open-water swimming has just been added
as an Olympic sport. “I just started trying
to do this, and I’m really, really good at it,
and it becomes an Olympic event.”
In October, he qualified for the upcoming FINA World Championships in Seville,
Spain. It counted as the U.S. Olympic trials. The top two (Peterson was second)
qualified for the 10-kilometer race in
Seville, and the top 10 of that race will go
to the Olympics.
Open-water swimming is popular internationally and is gaining recognition in the
U.S. Peterson competes against swimmers,
mostly slightly older than he, from countries including Germany, Italy, Russia, the
Netherlands and Spain. His win in 2005
was the first gold medal for the U.S. in the
last 10 years.
This is the extreme variety of competitive swimming. Swimmers race in a white
froth of churned-up water and bodies, and
physical contact is part and parcel of the
experience. Peterson once emerged from a
race with a black eye.
Sitting in front of a video replay of the
world championships qualifier in Vogt’s
office, Peterson explains his strategy for winning. He starts on the outside of the V-shaped pack of men, following a line of
buoys through the rippling Florida lake next
to Carolina swimmers Joe Kinderwater, a
freshman, and senior Phil Owen. The swimmers go four times around a 2.5-kilometer
loop, turning seven times around large
orange buoys, and finish by racing back
toward the shore. Motorboats cruise on
either side with officials, media representatives and coaches on board. They stop only
once in the 10-kilometer race: at the feed
boat, where coaches hand them water and
gel packs from long poles. Grab, gulp and go.
Peterson is part of the pack for most of
the race and then digs in with his trademark
powerful kick to catch the swimmer out
front. He finishes in second by two-tenths of
a second. Kinderwater comes in third.
Swimming in the pack is part of the
strategy. “If you look at many of the long-distance migrators in the sea — the whales,
the dolphins, the larger fishes, they do it in
a school,” said Pete Peterson, an Alumni
Distinguished Professor of marine sciences,
biology and ecology in Carolina’s Institute
of Marine Sciences. “So this was my exercise and the dog’s.” He explained that
swimmers draft off of each other like
trucks and cars on a highway, enabling
them to conserve energy.
As for the physical contact — Chip’s
personal theory is that it’s better just to be
polite and avoid being marked as aggressive. “My personal take is if you know that
someone is going to be rough, just try your
best to avoid them,” he said.
And races generally are hard enough
without it, anyway. They can last up to two
hours and five minutes.
Peterson and Vogt have followed the
same learning curve since they first worked
together when he was in high school. “I’m
one of the top open-water swimmers, and
[Vogt] is considered one of the top open-water coaches. It’s been great … teamwork.”
For her part,Vogt says, “I know how to
get him. I know what’s going to make him
mad, but I know how to work with him
Most international open-water swimmers train in pools, although sometimes
Vogt and Peterson practice in the ocean
with Vogt kayaking and Peterson swimming
At practice on his first day back from a
weeklong break,Vogt and Peterson quibble
about what set he has to swim. This is one of
the ways Vogt knows he is something out of
the ordinary: It’s 75 meters (three laps) of
kick, followed by 600 meters ( 24 laps) on an
interval of seven minutes and 30 seconds, a
total of 14 times. Head Coach Rich DeSelm
imported it from the University of Florida.
“He said he’s never had anyone do a
600 before, ever,” Vogt said.
She is hoping for two more Olympics
in Peterson’s future, but she’s still trying to
remember he’s still a normal student (a
biology major, he thinks).
“There’s a really good chance we’re
going to have a long career in this for a
number of years,” Vogt said, calling it
amazing that he’s able to balance class, be a
normal college student and compete as he
does. “He’s only 19, and I have to remember that sometimes.”
— Laura Oleniacz
“We had a very strong senior class. The
leadership we had was fantastic.”
The challenge for the players this season, because of their outright domination
in the majority of games (all but three
were won by more than one goal), was
keeping mentally sharp. Shelton said her
staff worked to make sure players didn’t
take winning for granted, especially during
their nine-game shutout streak in the middle of the regular season.
“The trick was to keep the team focused
and in the present and not too full of themselves,” Shelton said. “But the team was so
mature and so well-led. And the depth created kind of a competitive environment —
Field hockey continued from page 9
if you’re not doing your job, there’s someone else who can step in and do it.”
Dawson, whom Shelton calls the best to
ever play at UNC, was named to the Division I All-America team along with Gey,
Beans and freshman Katelyn Falgowski.
Falgowski, third on the team in scoring, led
the nation with her 21 assists and was
named the ACC Freshman of the Year.
“I still see us being one of the stronger
teams out there,” Shelton said. “The core of
young players that we have is very strong.
They’ve had a taste of winning and a taste
of this national success, and winning
becomes a habit.” The team’s last championship win was in 1997; previous titles
came in 1989, 1995 and 1996.