Forever Young: freshman earns All-American honors

By Jamie Macpherson

Nathan Young ’11 has had a busy freshman year swimming at Macalester. Over the last couple of months he’s broken four Macalester records, won both the 100- and 200- meter backstroke in the MIAC championships, and last week was given national honorable mention All-American honors in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke.But Young isn’t satisfied. “I was expected to do much better that I actually did,” he said. “I was seeded for fifth in the 200 back and tied seventh for the 100.” Young ended up placing fourteenth in both races, making him one of the top 16 swimmers in the nation.

Head Swimming and Diving Coach Bob Pearson, (who also was a coordinator in the meet), explained just how close Young was to ending up in the top eight at Nationals. “He was just tenths of a second off of a top eight finish in the 100 back,” he said. “This time was his fastest morning swim ever by half a second and he would have placed fourth last year.”

Pearson noted how hard Young had worked this season, how he managed to win the MIAC even after his emergency surgery early in the season. “It is difficult to attend the championships on your own and to train for 5 weeks without teammates,” he said. “He handled things well, although there were some bumps along the way.”

Young attributes his success in part to his coaches. He stresses that throughout the season, both coaches were a consistent source of support. “If I swam poorly, they always supported me,” he said. “That’s the best part of the season, looking back and knowing I was on this team.” Because Coach Pearson was busy coordinating the meet he wasn’t able to spend much time talking with Young, so Assistant Coach Scott Blanchard stepped in to work one-on-one with Young.

“I was lucky to have Scott there,” Young said. “He was really there for me.” Young explained how prior to each race, Blanchard would give him a motivational speech, something that actually proved to be extremely effective. “People have tried to pep me up. But until Scott talked to me it never worked. [Blanchard] told me to swim the race for myself. He said, ‘you don’t need to swim for your friends, or for me, Bob, or even you’re mom. We’re already proud of you.'”

Although Young did encounter past competitors from St. Olaf, Gustavus, and Carleton at the meet, he said it had little effect on his preparation for the meet. “I really don’t try to worry about [the other swimmers],” he said. “Of course, it’s easier said than done to focus because it’s a total psyche out.”

Even though Young didn’t perform as well as he would have liked, he isn’t discouraged. Young says he tried not to dwell on his disappointments. “I’ve never allowed [swimming] to take over,” he explained. “So when I swim badly, I have a bad day, I analyze it. But when you have two swims a day, you have to get yourself back up and get ready for the other race.”

When asked what he sees for next year, Young sums things up simply. “Next year, I’d train better, swim faster, make it into the top eight, and get a trophy,” he said. And looking back at the name he’s already made for himself, it’s understandable why Young is so confident that it’s possible. “I’ve got to remind myself that this is my first national meet, and ideally I’d do better next year. There’s no reason that I can’t do better.”

Coach Pearson agrees with Young’s optimism.] “His future is very bright,” he said. “He will only continue to get better.