Summer Adventures: Scot Robison
Swimmer Scot Robison, who concluded his collegiate career at Virginia in March, had a busy summer representing the USA. He competed in his first World Championships in Shanghai, China, where he earned a bronze medal as a member of the 4×100 freestyle relay team. Robison, a Charlotte, N.C. native, will continue to compete for Team USA this fall at the Pan American Games. He recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to recap his summer.
Question: What was the transition like for you going from a college swimmer to a professional swimmer?
Robison: After NCAAs, I took a short break and then got back in the pool. There was a serious focus for me on World Championships from that point. Even though every summer I swam without taking classes, because I had graduated, it was a little different. I realized this was how it was going to be for the rest of my swimming career. It forced me into the business mentality that swimming as a profession brings. I had always kind of feared that when I was in school because I thought just swimming would be kind of lame. To be honest, it was really cool, and I had more fun swimming this summer than I ever had in my life. It couldn’t have gone better.
Question: Before Worlds began, you spent some time training in Australia with the U.S. team. How was that experience?
Robison: It was great. You don’t get that many of the world’s best swimmers in that kind of setting very often. Some of the national team staff I have talked to said the World Championships training camp is one of the best. At the Olympic training camp, everyone is really nervous and stressed out. Before Worlds, everyone is loose, having fun, swimming fast, sharing things with each other and just really enjoying the moment. That is certainly something I picked up on. In Australia, everyone was kind of doing their own thing but they were also doing a lot of things together. The other thing I really enjoyed was just meeting a lot of the coaches, who are very good coaches, who are also willing to help. I really appreciate that and got a lot out of it.
Question: What was the atmosphere like in China?
Robison: There was a certain part of it where you are a kind of celebrity. At World Championships, the event is just pool sports. At the Olympics, the swim team might not be the most popular because of all the other sports and competitions going on at the same time. But in China we were the main attraction. China is also a country that really loves swimming, a lot more than the United States.
Question: Did you get to see any of Shanghai?
Robison: Shanghai was a fascinating city. I could talk about it for an hour, just how crazy it is because it’s so enormous. There was so many different things there and I probably only saw one percent of the city. But we were there to swim and that part was amazing.
Question: What about the pool and the atmosphere surrounding the competition?
Robison: The pool was crazy. I will say that the 2008 Olympic Trials in Omaha was definitely a good preparation because this was by far the biggest meet I had ever been to. In terms of the setting, I wasn’t as awestruck because I had seen something similar in Omaha. But it was extravagant and it was over-the-top. You are swimming in an indoor arena, with 15,000 seats, all of which were filled every night. Down to all the details, the pool was great and they took great care of us. That said, once we got there we got into a routine and it was all business. The thing I liked about the U.S. team the most is that no one got starry-eyed or forgot why we were there. Everyone was ready to swim.
Question: What about your swims? Were you happy with how you did?
Robison: We were in Australia for what felt like a long time and after awhile, you just want to race. I swam on the first day of Worlds. The first morning I was on the relay. I was really happy with how I did. From there I knew I had a time trial on the third day. So I was getting ready mentally for that. I did the time trial in the 100 freestyle and went a best time. That was the end of my swimming and Shanghai.
Question: What did you do for the rest of the meet?
Robison: I got to sit in the stands and cheer on my teammates for the rest of the meet and just watch a lot of really good swimming. It was a great experience. The best part about it – other than being happy with how I swam – was the prospective I got out of it. It was a whole new prospective, and it couldn’t have come at a better time a year out from Olympic Trials.
Question: What is your new perspective?
Robison: The biggest thing I took away was that everyone was pretty relaxed. They know what they’ve done to get to that point. They know that swimming relaxed is swimming fast. Too often, people get caught up in overthinking things and getting really stressed out and nervous. What I really got out of it was that people at that level are really good at managing their emotions. When you aren’t in the pool, you don’t always have to be thinking about your next race and playing it in your mind over and over. It’s pretty simple. It’s not like you aren’t going to remember how to swim when you dive in. The more fun you’re having with it, the faster you are going to swim and I really saw that with a lot of people. I approached the meet that way as well and I approached U.S. nationals the following week the exact same way. I think that really helped me. It was a brand new way of going about it. I am not the kind of person who gets really nervous but it was still a different perspective.
Question: Once you got back from China, you didn’t have much time before U.S. Nationals out in California. How was that meet for you?
Robison: It was a weird time change and we actually gained a few hours on the way back. We got back on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 was the first day of nationals. But I didn’t swim until Aug. 3, so I really had about a day and a half. Some people did not do well but for me, the time change was so great that it was better just to not even think about it. I was really excited to swim at nationals and I think it helped I sat around for the last six days and watched people race in China. That made me antsy to get back in the water again. I was motivated and helped me get over the time change, both physically and mentally.
Question: What have you been up to since U.S. Nationals ended?
Robison: I took a very short break and now I’m back in Charlottesville training. I have a couple of weeks of training under my belt. But I am going to be here for the duration of the school year and a couple months into the summer leading into Olympic Trials in Omaha. I may take a few trips here and there and I will definitely be competing in a few meets between now and May. But I am here and I am excited.
Question: What led to the decision to stay and train at UVa?
Robison: There are a lot of different options for people like me who are just training for this year. I honestly didn’t really think about it that much, not that I didn’t think about the process, but I didn’t think about leaving a lot. I feel like I wanted to finish my career with Mark (Bernardino). I didn’t see any reason not to – we’ve had a great run and we get along great. We work together very well. I don’t think me leaving for one year is something that is typical of what I would do. I would like to see my career out here at UVa.
Question: Your former teammate and classmate, Matt McLean, also had a great summer in the pool. Did you keep in touch with him between your competitions?
Robison: We keep up a lot and talk all the time. I am very happy for him and what he did this summer. He had a great meet at U.S Nationals and probably an event better meet at the World University Games. We both had about as good of a summer as we could have hoped for looking ahead to 2012. When I was in China, he was texting me and when he was there, I was doing the same. Even though we are pretty far apart geographically, we are still jut as close as ever.