Feb. 1, 2012
BY JORDAN PREWITT
Freshman Tristan Slater has a bright swimming future ahead of him at Tennessee, but the present is looking pretty good too.
The Vol from North Wooton, England, is a multi-stroke standout already. He has clocked the best time on the team in both the 200- and 400-yard individual medley races. He won the 200 IM at his final two dual meets of the season, at Georgia and at home against Florida.
With the SEC Championships coming up in two weeks and the Olympic Trials next month, here's the weekly Q&A with Slater:
Q: "Being that you are from another country, did you move to the United States solely to swim at Tennessee?"
A: "When I was in England at school, I always knew I wanted to come to America to swim here because the collegiate system is so much better here. So I emailed the top 20 swimming universities in the United States, and Tennessee was the first one to get back to me, so i cam on my recruiting trip and I loved it."
Q: "When you were on your recruiting trip to UT, what was your favorite thing about the team or campus in general?"
A: "My favorite thing was definitely the facilities. The facilities here are so much better than in England. Also coach Lars Jorgensen is a great distance coach, he has been to the Olympics, and he knows what it takes to make the Olympics."
Q: "So you talked about Coach Jorgensen being a good distance coach, do you swim distance and what is your main event?"
A: "I am originally a breaststroker and an individual medley swimmer, but Coach Jorgensen thinks I can do every single event, so I train mostly every stroke."
Q: "When you came to America, was there anything surprising to you?"
A: "Personally I think the food in Europe is a but better, but the size portions here are a lot better. In Europe you might get a small piece of steak, but here you can get a big piece of steak. For me that is pretty awesome."
Q: "So when you came to America on your recruiting trip, did your parents come with you?"
A: "When I was making decisions for Universities, I wanted it to be an independent decision, so I came to America on my own."
Q: "Outside of swimming, do you have any other hobbies?"
A: "Well I also use to live in Australia and I attempted to learn to surf there, but it wasn't until I actually moved to England that I learned to surf. I'm not very good at it, but I still enjoy it. I also enjoy going to the movies with my mates and every Sunday we all go the Chinese restaurant here in Knoxville together just to get our spirits back up and ready for a new week of practice."
Q: "So it seems that you have lived just about everywhere. Hong Kong, England, Australia, is there anywhere else?"
A: "I lived in Vietnam, and I have also lived in Malaysia as well. Vietnam was actually the place where I developed my passion for swimming. When I was younger in Vietnam, I broke my arm playing football, or soccer to Americans, and I had surgery, and after all the surgery I had to figure out a way to stay active and I couldn't play football, so I tried swimming and it all started from there."
Q: "So swimming was never something that you originally did?"
A: "Well my sister was a swimmer and she was pretty good, so I think I learned all my tips and tricks from her. It seems to be easier to be the second child because I just go to learn from the first one."
Q: "When did you realize that you were actually really good at swimming and that it was something you enjoyed doing?"
A: "When I lived in Malaysia my sister was always the star in swimming. She was always in the top two on Malaysia which at that point was a huge accomplishment, but it wasn't really till we moved to Australia till I really started to pick up my swimming."
Q: "Well out of all these different countries that you have lived in, which one is your favorite?"
A: "Well it is still hard to tell to some point. I have only been in America for six months, but I enjoyed Australia just because of the lifestyle out there because everyone is so laid back. But I am enjoying America a lot as well, so who knows?"
Q: "Being that you are a freshman, what are some of the Tennessee swimming traditions that mean a lot to you already?"
A: "Well, the traditions at Tennessee was also a huge part of why I decided to come here. My favorite tradition here is probably signing the rafters, I think that is a great way of honoring the past swimmers of this program."
Q: Can you explain exactly what "signing the rafters" is?
A: "On Senior Day, after the meet every senior goes up onto the catwalk and signs there name above the pool in the rafters on the pipes up there."
Q: Have you qualified for the Olympic Trials yet?
A: "I have. I should be jetting off about two weeks after SEC Championships to swim in the Olympic Trials in the new pool in England. I mean there is always an outside chance, but I am shooting for Rio in 2016."
Q: What events did you qualify in for the trials?
A: "I qualified in four events. The 100 breast, 200 breast, and the 200 and 400 individual medley."
Q: Being that the SEC Championship is here in Knoxville this year, is there anything you are particularly excited about having your first SEC Championship in your home pool?
A: "Well what better way to start your SEC career off in your home pool? It is also somewhat of an advantage over the rest of the teams because we train here day in and day out, so we know the pool and we have our own locker room here that we can use at anytime, so it really is a strong advantage."