Tremendous article on swimnetwork.com. 20 questions with Davis Tarwater. Check it out. In the meantime, here are some of the questions and answers that impressed me most.
Davis Tarwater had a significant letdown after not making the Olympic team in the 200 fly as Gil Stovall and Michael Phelps claimed the two spots. But a year later, the Michigan alum was back, making the World Championship team – though not as a flyer – bringing home a gold medal after swimming an early heat of the 800 free relay. But it’s what happened in that year, and what’s happening later this year, that has Tarwater pumped, and he talks about it in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday. by Andrew Silver
Silver - Looking back at Gil Stovall beating you for that second 200 fly slot that you seemed to own – what happened at Olympic Trials? Davis: Well, what happened was I planned three life-time best (races) back-to-back-to-back, and I did exactly that – and I was beaten by a better athlete who swam a better race. You have some forces that define your identity at times in life. Swimming provides great moments, but also challenges. That’s the great thing about sports: It happened to me, but that also led to great redemption.
Silver - I know and adore Gil Stovall – how do you feel about him after losing that spot to him? Davis: Gil beat me. He won that spot. We’re friends. That’s the thing about sports; I have no ill will toward Gil, how could I? I really respect him as an athlete and person. We had had an unbelievable rivalry going on for 10 years. I was disappointed for myself – just like Gil was for me, and just like I would have been for him if it were reversed. You make a decision to stand back up and live your life to the fullest or you become an emotional cripple.
Silver - I’ve known you for seven or eight years now, and I can honestly say I have never been prouder of you – to follow up on the Olympics, were you nervous at Trials? Davis: I appreciate the compliment. No, I really wasn’t nervous at Trials. I realize, and this may seem like a cop-out since I did not make the team, but I realized it was far more important for me to be known as a man of virtue than as an Olympian. I needed to be a great teammate, a better friend, and the best person I could be. I am not discounting how amazing it would have been to be an Olympian – some of my best friends, who are great people, are Olympians. But my days now are about being a better person. I realize that the days I fail at being a better person, I am also failing at being a better athlete. So when I came back to try to make the 2009 World Championship team, I really had nothing to lose.
Silver - I know you are a “thinking man” now, but can you tell us how swimming has shaped you as a person? Davis: Hmm, that’s a pretty complex question. It’s taught me a lot. One of the consistent things you will hear, when you ask swimmers what the life lessons of swimming are, include this: If you work hard, you will be successful, and in fact how hard you work in most cases is the amount of success you have.