1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in swimming, education, experience, etc.)
I started swimming very young at the recreational level, following my older brother into the pool (our sister followed suit and we all swam in college. Our parents did as well). Swam or the YMCA of the Triangle Area in Raleigh, NC. Graduated w a degree in Sport Management from the University of Michigan. Olympic & Pan Am Gold Medalist and World Championship and Pan Pac team member.
2. You’ve swam for some great coaches, what was the most valuable thing each one taught you?
Values I learned from my coaches as they relate to the sport of swimming:
- Ron Turner (club coach growing up at YOTA): Belief in preparation.
- Bob Bowman: Belief in limits, and breaking them.
- Jon Urbanchek: Belief in enduring through the process.
- Sergio Lopez: Belief of swimming as an art.
- Sean Hutchison: Belief in myself.
Swimmers require a high level of mobility. That is an area I could improve. I try to increase mobility through simple band exercises (think rotator cuff exercises). Much of what we do in the water and in dryland works against our range of motion. I try to stay cognizant of this. It’s never a bad idea to incorporate simple exercises into warm up that encourage shoulder/hip/ankle mobility.
4. Do you follow any nutritional guidelines? What about at a meet?
I tend to eat a healthy diet, so I put as much into my body each day as I feel I need. In our sport, like many, protein continues to be undervalued while carbohydrates are pushed too hard. For athletes training twice a day and also weight lifting, repairing the muscles through appropriate protein intake cannot be stressed enough.
5. Do you take any supplements? If so, what and why? How do you incorporate strength training into your program?
I only take a multi vitamin an iron supplement once a day. I also have a protein shake twice a day, but it is FDA approved, so it is technically “food”.
6. Do you feel strength training translates to pool strength? Why?
When I do a strength training exercise (“weights”), I answer the following to myself…”Does this movement reflect part of my stroke in the water?”
In the past I have found myself doing weight lifting exercises that do not correspond to the freestyle stroke. For example, a traditional bench press movement reflects freestyle in no way. I have scratched this from my regiment.
7. What exercises (dryland, drills, etc.) have most helped you become an elite freestyler?
8. What flaws are your trying to improve in your free?
Continuing to improve my connection between my kick and pull.
9. What is the most common flaw between your good and elite middle distance freestyler?
The catch. Look at what the elite swimmer does with the catch at the top of the stroke. They don’t rush, they establish each stroke with near perfection. Swimming fast does not necessarily mean moving your body fast.
10. What was the most exciting race at the Olympics?
Watching Nathan get his hand on the wall in the 100 free was amazing. The relays are always the most fun.
11. What is next for Charlie Houchin?
Take some time off! Review the past four years, enjoy time with friends. Recharge. Then get a picture in my head of the next four years that I believe in, chart the course of action, and execute!