Jan. 8, 2013
After earning the Mike Cochran Award for most promising freshman, qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 200 backstroke and competing at the 2012 Big Ten Championship in three separate events, Steven Zimmerman had a lot to look forward to heading into his second season with the Buckeyes. A native of Morrow, Ohio, Zimmerman currently ranks as one of Ohio State's top backstroke and individual medley contenders. A fierce competitor, he is known for leaving his fun loving, comedic nature on the pool deck because in the water, he's all business.
After a year of practicing and competing under Coach Wadley's guidance, what is your comfort level heading into this season?
"After training with Bill [Wadley] for the past year, I have so much more confidence going into this season. He has taught me a lot over the past year, not only how to improve my stroke and get stronger, but he has done such a great job mentally preparing me for my races. With a year under my belt I am much more confident."
What was the biggest challenge transitioning from high school to collegiate swimming?
"Obviously the competition level was much higher, but the hardest part was finding a way to keep up with the training and schoolwork at the same time and giving the same effort in both arenas. I had to manage my time to make sure I was getting it done in the classroom. After all we are STUDENT-athletes, not athlete-students."
How do you handle the rigorous, year-round schedule?
"Swimming is just a part of who I am now. The training is hard and I am usually sore and tired throughout the year but I like that. It makes me feel productive. Also when I train I think of the bigger picture. I know that if I put the work in now it will pay off in the end. Having great teammates also helps out a lot because they keep me motivated and grounded. They are like a second family to me."
What did you learn from swimming alongside Andrew Elliott, who won multiple Big Ten championships in the 200 backstroke?
"Swimming next to Andrew Elliot my first year was very valuable. Just by watching him I learned how much work needed to be put in and the level of dedication it takes to be the best in the Big Ten. Also, having him to race against was an amazing way to get experience. Being able to race one of the best in the country every day really gave me the confidence to know that I could race anyone who was next to me. However, I did learn a lot from others, like Marcus [Sievers], who is equally successful at the backstroke, so this year Connor McDonald and I have a great understanding of what it takes to succeed."
Is there a particular upperclassman you look up to for leadership this season?
"I can't rule out a single upperclassman that I look up to the most on our team. We have so many great leaders, such as Zach Holmes, Andrew Keily, Jason Schnur, Tim Phillips, Stephen Koch, Luke Stirton, Zach Birnbrich and the list goes on. They all have something in them or about them that is worthy of being looked up to."
How would you describe this year's team?
"The team this year is very strong. We have great swimmers returning and a good freshman class this year whose future looks really bright."
What individually do you hope to accomplish this season?
"My goals are to win the Big Tens as a team, as well as individually, and make the final heat at NCAAs."
What advice do you have for individuals hoping to swim on the collegiate level?
"I would tell them to take it all in and don't take anything for granted. If you want something in this sport and on this team you have to fight for it. You can't expect to be handed your goals. You have to pay the price now to benefit later."