2013 USA National Champion (200 fly)
Three-Time USA Swimming National Teamer
2013 World Championship Finalist (200 fly – 5th)
10-Time NCAA All-American
Tom Luchsinger’s transition from All-American collegiate swimmer to professional athlete was full of surprises, and he hopes to impart some crucial lessons learned to participants attending his clinics with Fitter and Faster!
In swimming, surprises are a bit of a taboo-concept. Athletes and coaches spend hours upon hours gutting out test sets, perfecting technique, and preparing themselves mentally in the hopes that the race goes as planned. However, results don’t always go your way, and Tom had to learn patience and resiliency to overcome a few set-backs. He is here to encourage swimmers that when results don’t go their way, it is important to reconnect with the reasons they fell in love with swimming in the first place.
Even the best of the best can become discouraged; however, it is in the athletes’ response to setbacks that will ultimately set the trajectory of their career. After failing to final in the 200 butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012, Luchsinger debated whether to walk away from the sport altogether:
“Following the Olympic Trials, the last thing I wanted to do was swim. I love every aspect of swimming – the practices and the competitions – so this feeling of distain for the sport was very unsettling for me. This time, the water was the problem, which is something that never happened before. This funk lasted probably about two weeks, and I seriously considered walking away from the sport after the completion of my college career.”
After dislocating his kneecap while cross training with his teammates, Luchsinger was forced to take a significant amount of time out of the water. This extra reflection time reminded him of exactly how much he loved the sport and convinced him to continue training. If nothing else, participants at his clinics will catch this vibe of excitement and translate it to their own training.
Setting goals and working toward them is incredibly important, and falling short of these goals throughout the season is frustrating. However, Luchsinger teaches that these perceived failures are essential to a swimmer’s long-term character and athletic development when reframed as opportunities to learn:
“Sometimes, you can get wrapped up in the pressure to perform well every time you race. One thing I have recognized since becoming professional is that you swim a lot of races in a year; some of them will go terribly wrong: others will go very well. Regardless, you need to learn from every race if you want to swim your best at the end of the year. So I look back at analysis and see what I need to work on to have that last season race, something that I shied away from during my college career.”
Through these years of in-depth race analysis with elite coaches, Luchsinger has built up a reservoir of technical knowledge and race strategy to share with participants. It takes a special person to choose the 200 butterfly, largely seen as one of the most difficult races in swimming, as your specialty. He’s here to show swimmers that butterfly can actually be extremely fun to practice and race when executed properly!
Aside from technical soundness, Luchsinger delves into the mental aspect of swimming. He’s a firm believer that when removing or channeling performance pressure, swimmers are able to step out in confidence and experiment with their training. This proved true when Luchsinger earned a trip to Barcelona, Spain the next year as part of Team USA in the 200 butterfly. This was particularly significant, as he was the first winner of that race at a trials meet in a decade not named Phelps.
“I think everyone could just see the shock on my face, and I have a feeling that reaction will stay with me for a long time. Reporters at Worlds were saying that I looked very surprised to make the worlds team. Boy, is that a correct statement!” he fondly recalls.
As you can see, swimming can be full of surprises – both good and bad. But these experiences can cultivate the characteristics of patience, resiliency, inquisitiveness, grit and so much more. Luchsinger’s swimming career has come full circle, and he now dedicates his fun-loving personality and energy to instructing other swimming hopefuls.
Who wouldn’t want to learn from the incredible Tom Luchsinger? Sign up for his next clinic near you!