Monday, June 15, 2015

David Nolan…and the Two-Minute Drill

David Nolan capped off his college swimming career at Stanford with two more performances for the record books.

At the Pac-12 Championships he won the 200 IM in 1:40.07—the best Stanford, Pac-12, NCAA, and American mark in this event.

David and his backstroke.
Photo courtesy of
The previous NCAA record (1:40.49) was set in 2009 by Bradley Ally (University of Florida) and Ryan Lochte owned the American mark (set in 2007) at 1:40.08.

Oh, and this win made David the only swimmer in Pac-12 history to sweep this race in all four years.
Then came the NCAA Championships and David took it to another level, winning the event with a 1:39.38 time. He is the first man to swim the 200 IM in a sub-1:40 time.

By the way, just to put all of this in perspective, this is the same swimmer who won eight titles in one of his first meets as a freshman at Stanford.

And in his senior year in high school in 2011 he swam the 200 IM in 1:41.39 (another record) and this time would have won the NCAA title that year. He held five national records and was an All-American in six strokes.

At the end of his freshman year he was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Pac-12 Championships Swimmer of the Meet, and took six first place finishes in the Pac-12 Championships in helping 

Stanford to its 31st consecutive Pac-12 title. He also had seven All-American honors at the NCAAs.
In total, David leaves Stanford with 17 All-American honors, three school records, and nine Pac-12 titles.

I sat down recently with David and he shared his story.

PJ: Why do you like swimming?

David: I like racing a lot. It’s pretty neat that you can control what you are going to do at the end of the season. I like a sport when you mange yourself in the pool and weight room. You figure out what will make you as good as possible at the end of the year.

PJ: As a senior in high school you had what is called the best swim in high school history when you broke your own national record in the 200 IM by nearly two seconds at 1:41.39. This seems to be one of your best races. Why do you like the 200 IM?

David: It definitely was the best cause it was the national record, in high school, that is. The 200 IM is a combination of all strokes. I like how it takes all strokes in. I work with the mid-distance group and just change the stroke, rotate through all strokes by the end of the week.

PJ: What was different in your training this season that may have helped you to set these new
David starting the race at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships.
Photo courtesy of

David: Just being really into training all year. Being super-focused literally doing all you can do. I
was way more conscious and diligent this year. The goal was in the back of my mind. I wanted to get better and was going to do what I needed to do. And it worked.

I was diligent. I ate healthy and worked really hard. I was very focused in training as opposed to going in and just swimming the laps. The specific thing that changed was my schedule. I lifted in the afternoon and it made it easier to lift heavy. That’s really the only thing that changed.

PJ: Did you know you were on pace to beat the record during the races?

David: Sometimes I feel good when racing and this felt pretty good. Although, I did not know I was on pace for the record. I didn’t see it coming. It was pretty exciting. I didn’t know I had the record until it was over and I heard it on the loudspeaker.

The second time, I was fully shaved and ready to go. I was excited to race and it worked out.

PJ: The second mark your set put a little more time between you and the rest of the pack. How long do you think it will stand?

David: I think it will definitely be broken. Maybe even next year. Records are set to be broken. It’s what everyone aims for…there’s not even a question they are going to win. Then they think about what else can I do? It helps you go even faster.

PJ: What’s next?

David: Making the Olympics…that’s my one and only goal. This is always every kid’s dream…to compete in the Olympics. I will stay at Stanford and train. I am mostly focused on the long course. I haven’t figured out yet what events I will focus on.

PJ: What is your best memory swimming?

David: This year in the Pac-12 championships when the team swam fast all-around. That is my favorite memory.

PJ: What athlete has had the most impact on you?

David: Tiger Woods is my role model. I like playing golf and it’s so cool that I went to the same school as him. His domination in the game of golf is pretty inspiring. My family has helped me out greatly, but he is my athletic inspiration.