Get To Know Clark Burckle

by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)

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Created September 19th, 2011 08:39:20 AM

Modified September 19th, 2011 09:15:59 AM

Clark Burckle is this week’s featured swimmer. Clark, who is currently training at the University of Arizona, has enjoyed many successes throughout his competitive career.

These successes have come in the form of 11 All-American honors, a NCAA title in 2010, multiple SEC titles, being named to the 2008-09 USA National team and reaching the finals of the 200m breaststroke and 400m IM at the 2008 USA Olympic Trials.

In this SwimUtopia interview Clark tells us about his most memorable moment so far in swimming and what his game plan is going into 2012.

Let’s get started!

You recently graduated from the University of Arizona. What was it that drew you to the school?  

Well, I was making a decision to transfer after my junior year at the University of Florida and I had looked at several top 5 DI programs. Arizona just seemed like a great fit. Surrounded by people like the Busch family and Coach Rodenbaugh was as good as it gets.

I wanted a place to really take me in and recognize my talents and character as an individual and Frank (Busch) really valued these things. He designed his rogram around pride, honesty, and hard work, and these were all things my dad had taught me to treasure growing up. I really liked that.

What does this upcoming year and the lead up to 2012 mean to you? What’s the game plan?  

2012 is just like any other year. I love to swim and the biggest meet for any swimmer is the Olympic Games. It would mean everything to really be on form and give it my best shot. There are a lot of really fast guys to race and I really am just honored to be in the mix. But truthfully it means more rest and more focus; really tuning in to the small things in and out of the pool.

What is it like training with everyone at Arizona?

It is really amazing. Here you are training outside year round with some of the best coaches and most competitive people in the world. A really tight-knit all around team with someone to push you in every aspect of your training. It is a great set up and a very healthy environment for me, but there are a few hard parts about living in a swimming paradise….

What does the Arizona coaching staff do to help set you up for success?

They have really helped us be accountable for our actions and efforts. They are driven people, and success always starts at the top. Champions come from a championship environment and our coaches really foster that lifestyle.

What has been your most memorable moment so far in swimming?

Watching the 2008 Olympics from the stands. There is no hiding the fact that I am a swim nerd at heart and analyze just about everything to do with the sport.

To be more specific, watching my sister win a medal, that was crazy. I could not even really sit by my family they were stressing me out. I was way more nervous then, than before any of my swims. So many uncontrollable aspects; at least when I race it is in my hands.

Oh, and I also really liked watching the athletes warm up, it is really cool seeing the best in the world and how they prepare.

What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been in swimming?

Recognizing my weaknesses. I could say winning an NCAA title or being on the national team, but those are all results of developing myself. The biggest challenge will be taking those developments even further.

What are your top times?

Well now I only swim breaststroke and the 200 IM. So those are:

100Br - 1:01.36

200Br - 2:12.37

200IM - 2:00.92

I have been 2:00 low in the 200 fly, 15:37 in the mile and 4:17 high I think 4oo IM. I have really swam almost every event.

What would you say motivates you?

Just trying to win. It is so hard but so rewarding. I am always trying to figure it out. It changes at every level you swim at.

Also, just doing it for me. I never knew to think when I was young that being the best was hard. I just remember watching old Olympic Tapes and other race video memorizing names and having heroes thinking, “it is going to be so cool when I am there too”. I never knew it would come with so many challenges and bumps in the road.

What are some things that people may not know about you?

I was a very good athlete growing up.

I am extremely competitive but am learning everyday how to avoid conflict and endear my competitors, it is just sport after all.

The only tv I watch is the History Channel and Fox News if I am not trying to watch sports.

I really like tennis and wish I stuck to that as a kid. What a great sport. I also really enjoy style, but people may know that.

I have a little brother who is 14, he is getting really good at golf and I am happy he chose that over swimming. That’s about all. Oh and I just took up reading after one of my favorite people Jack Roach ran it by me. What an amazing guy!

What is your favorite pump-up band or artist to listen to before racing?

Well my moods change. If you have ever driven in my car you know I keep mostly rap. You know Drake, Rick Ross, Wayne, Kanye, and Jay Z.

Loud or soft volume, I like beats but lyrics are my thing. But to be honest you could probably find me listening to some Jimmy Buffet (One particular harbor – my dads favorite cd for road trips Buffet Live Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays), the band Sandals with the Endless Summer Theme, or just Aston Martin Music Drake ft. rick ross.

The song headlines by Drake recently gets me going—he just talks about coming back, getting together, and doing his thing. That inspires me.

Do you have any pre-meet rituals?

I get a lot of sleep, stretch, be healthy, and just try to chill out as cliché as it sounds that helps me because I think a lot.

What records do you hold?

I do not even remember. The only one I really know is the Arizona 200 breast school record because I see it everyday. That is a huge honor.

What is your favorite food?

Footlong Italian BMT on 9-grain. Pepper Jack cheese toasted. Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, lots of banana peppers, salt , pepper, and I love yellow mustard. Yeah…that hits the spot I’d say!

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

So many people have been. But I idolize my dad. He does it himself and has all bases covered. He is the best man I have ever met and I wish I told him more often. His patience, work ethic, and attitude really impress me. It’s cool having your own hero around everyday growing up!

What would you say is the hardest practice that you have ever done?

Florida really gets after it. Those guys work so hard day in and day out. They have given me by far the longest workouts. I have done 11*1000s before. Countless intense IM workouts, and some 1000 meter flys for time with JB Walsh and Bradley Ally

At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to take swimming to the next level?

When I was 6 years old.

Oh and when I was 12, and watched Tom Dolan’s perfect race in the 400 IM with Eric Vendt taking silver in Sydney. I think the time was 4:11.7. It was so amazing then, and his celebration and post race interview with Eric sent shivers down my spine and especially their showing after the first night 400 free relay where the aussies came back on us. That really pushed my buttons. I loved that guy. Those were the guys that let me know I wanted to swim. They were the persistent guys out there; they liked the fight aspect.  That attracted me.

If you could give any advice to up and coming swimmers, what would it be?

Find your niche. Do it for you and enjoy every moment.

I’d say to move on from all experiences good and bad. This is something I have really struggled with. Dwelling on bad swims only delays future improvements, I know this from experience. It was the hardest thing in the world for me to do.

Just have some fun trying to win and don’t be afraid to fall in love with the sport and all it has to offer.

Please list any other additional information that you would like to share!

If you guys can help out with the formation of the Pro Swim League! The first meet is in November after the Minnesota Grand Prix. It will be fun and competitive!

It is just a start but it could really develop and foster some really great races! Try to watch online or even get tickets! The meet is at Canham Nat in Michigan. I will try to keep you guys updated with more info!


Be sure to check out our past Featured Swimmers here