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    SEC "Q&A": Gregg Troy

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –
    Gregg Troy is the U.S. Men’s Head Men’s Swimming Coach heading into the 2012 Olympic Games and also is the head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach at the University of Florida. Troy has a wealth of international experience and leads a talented U.S. team into the upcoming Olympics.

    The SEC Digital Network caught up with Troy, who is in Knoxville this week with Team USA, for this interview.

    SEC Digital Network: Even though you have a significant amount of international and Olympic coaching experience, how much does it mean to you to be the men’s head coach of Team USA?

    Gregg Troy: “Being on the staff twice before has been great, but to be the head coach is a tremendous honor. There’s a little bit of pressure because you’re responsible for caring for other people’s athletes, which is always a tough thing to do. But anytime you get an opportunity to represent your country, it’s fantastic.”

    SEC Digital Network: What experience do you have to have to be considered to coach Team USA?

    Gregg Troy: “You have to have quite a bit of international experience. Being the head coach at World Championships, being an Olympic assistant, those are the priority items. It takes a little bit of being in the right place at the right time, having some longevity and having coached some really good athletes. At that point, you just hope you’ve done a good enough job in previous situations to be considered.”

    SEC Digital Network: One of the stars on your U.S. team heading into the 2012 Olympic Games is Ryan Lochte, a swimmer that you coached at Florida. How special is that opportunity for you?

    Gregg Troy: “Any time that you’re a coach, you’re going to get way too much credit and probably too much of the blame. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some really good athletes and am really lucky I’ve had the opportunity to coach him. He’s a champ, he’s tremendous to work with and he just has great instincts and understanding of the sport. He’s willing to make changes, which is really important. There have been quite a few great ones that I’ve been able to coach. There was Greg Burgess, an Olympian in the 1980s who swam for me at The Bolles School, and Anthony Nesty, who I coached in high school and he went on to the University of Florida.”

    SEC Digital Network:
    You’re featured prominently in a Gatorade commercial with Ryan Lochte. What was that experience like for you?

    Gregg Troy: “It was a whole different experience for me. That doesn’t happen much in swimming, but Ryan has become so high-profile and he’s under contract with Gatorade, so we had the opportunity to do that. It was a great experience for me to see that side of it. Those things happen a lot in football or basketball, but it is a little unusual in swimming. It was also amazing to see how much of a production that the commercials are just for the short bit that airs.”

    SEC Digital Network: Having coached in the Olympics before, what makes the Olympic Games such a unique experience?

    Gregg Troy:
    “I think a couple of things. From an athletic standpoint, it’s really the athletes themselves. Almost all Olympic sports require an extended period of time of training to get to that level. It’s unique because the Olympics only come around once every four years. If you’re playing for the Super Bowl, there’s one the next year, so you get another opportunity. There are very few athletic scenarios that require that much time and effort for an event that only takes place once every four years. If you fall short at the Olympic Trials, you have to wait another four years. That’s a long time. Then you have to put in all the hard work and hope that you’re lucky enough to be in that position again. There’s a lot of skill and luck involved. With the Olympics themselves, what’s special is that you have athletes all over the world meeting in one spot for an event that has taken four years of effort and dedication. There’s not as much pressure at the Olympics because it’s almost like the pressure getting there is greater than at the actual competition. Once you’ve made it, you’re an Olympian. Some people will become medalists and some won’t, but you’ve still distinguished yourself in your sport. From a social aspect, the Olympic village is unlike the environment at any other athletic event. It’s almost a city in itself because it’s multicultural and multiethnic. There’s a sense of camaraderie and a sense of well-being that is amazing because you have people of so many different backgrounds working together.”

    SEC Digital Network: What are some of your duties and responsibilities as head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team?

    Gregg Troy: “The year before, you have to serve on the World Championship coaching staff. It’s a five-week commitment that you do because much of the World Championship team comprises the Olympic team. There are a whole lot of organizational meetings, you check off different things over the next year. Once the team is actually assembled, you’re tending to another group of coaches, making sure the other coaches and athletes are gelling. You have to create a team atmosphere in a relatively quick time frame. Once your training is over, you’re getting personalities to mesh because you’re implementing so many different programs that they come in with, to create a comfort level so that you can go into competition ready to go.”

    SEC Digital Network: What is your outlook for the U.S. Men’s Team heading into the Olympic Games?

    Gregg Troy: “We’ve got a couple of events that, coming out of Olympic Trials, are a little weak, but for the most part, we have a tremendously experienced team. We are fortunate to have a few new comers to the team and we all have the month between the Olympic Trials and the Olympics to get better. Anytime your team has two of the best athletes ever in the sport, with Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, you’re going to have a pretty good nucleus. Our relays look really good and that just enhances the confidence of the guys on our team. If we’re able to put it all together on the right day, there is no better team.”

    SEC Digital Network:
    How will the opportunity to serve as the U.S. Head Coach at the Olympic Games make you a better coach at the University of Florida?

    Gregg Troy: “It’s just having the opportunity to see the very best in the world. Right now, the swimming community is much older. The average age for men is around 24 years old, so when you work with guys that are the absolute best at what they do, you learn as much from them as they do from you. They have skills that you can take back to younger athletes to allow them to better themselves. Along the same lines, anytime you’re in an Olympic environment, you’re now associating with the best coaches around the world. You also get the chance to meet great coaches in other sports. It gives you a whole better feel for coaching from that aspect.”