Longhorn Olympic Trials Q&A: Kathleen Hersey
June 25, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Kathleen Hersey served the world notice in 2008, qualifying for the 200m butterfly finals at the Beijing Olympics even before her freshman season at Texas.
During her two seasons with the Longhorns, Hersey set six school records and was part of four school relay records, and she also won 11 Big 12 titles. Hersey took bronze in the 200 butterfly at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships.
Hersey spent some time with TexasSports.com as she readied for the 2012 Olympic Trials, which begin this week in Omaha, Neb.
You've been training with Eddie Reese and his UT men's team since 2010. What is that environment like? There's a certain intensity that men can bring. Just being in the middle of their battles and trying to make a battle of my own has been really helpful. I'm blessed to have this amazing group of guys. Eddie leads them as a coach, but more as a person. He leads by example. If you're a good person, good things will happen. If your vision is one of clarity and direction, there's not much you can do to fall short. He's a good balance.
What pushed you out of your comfort zone and made you want to train with guys? I knew after a bad meet at the 2010 NCAA's that I needed a change. Kris (Kubik) and Eddie welcomed me, and I trained with the men for that one summer. That's when I won the bronze at Pan Pacs. I felt like that's where I should have been all along. I liked the level I was at, because even training was a consistently challenging atmosphere. I felt like everything fell into place, and this was where I needed to be.
Certain sets, longer sets, I tend to do better on. I can actually beat a lot of them, because women are built as endurance athletes. But if we do any fast sets, I am toast. It took awhile to adjust in that respect, but I'm a fairly experienced athlete to know what is good for me. I know what my times usually are.
It's very simple - here's the work you're going to do, here's how you're going to do it, now go do it. It's no-nonsense and very structured. For me, that works.
How is your training this season? This past year, I want to say that I've been really focusing on my training, but so much has happened outside of that. I lost mom (to cancer). There have been a lot of life changes that have happened. It's given me a new perspective on swimming. While I love swimming, and I want to be my best, there's still a thing in the back of my mind that it's still a sport. So it's not as hard to give my entire effort, because I'm not worried about anything else. I have clarity and focus to my vision.
UT has its own Olympic tradition. What is it like to represent that and the red, white and blue? I'm a Longhorn for life, no doubt. The established culture of greatness is very appealing. Texas swimming is a dynasty. Having these great role models to look up to, I realize I'm representing Jill Sterkel and Aaron Peirsol whenever I swim. There's a patriotism to wanting to represent your country, but there's a more personal connection with Texas because it's shaped who I am.