Martin Grodzki came close to redshirting during Georgia’s last season so he could concentrate on qualifying for the German Olympic team.
But he decided to compete for Georgia, which might have been the best thing for his confidence going into Olympic trial season.
Grodzki is a junior from Berlin, Germany. He won the 500-yard and 1,560-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships last month. He held off Stanford’s Chad LaTourette, who is a favorite to make the United States Olympic team as a distance specialist, to set a collegiate record in the 1,560.
“It was the right thing to do not to redshirt,” Grodzki said. “I swam the NCAA season. I won the two championships and set a record, so that gave me a huge boost. I know now that I can qualify for the Olympics. Somebody like Chad (LaTourette), who has always been way under the time I need to qualify — I beat him — so that shows me I’m on the right track and I’m confident going into trials.”
Germany’s Olympic trials begin on Thursday in Grodzki’s home town of Berlin, which will give his parents a rare opportunity to watch him compete. Grodzki hopes to qualify in the 1,500-meter and 400-meter freestyle.
“My parents hardly ever see me swim,” Grodzki said. “My mom hates it, not being over here to watch me. But on the other hand, she might have had a heart attack during that (1,650) NCAA race, I’m pretty sure. But this will be good, especially now during the Olympic trials. If I do make the team, she’ll be able to see me in London. But it could be across the world and my mom wouldn’t miss something like that.”
Last fall Grodzki had all but decided to sit out the college season so he could train for the Olympics. But Grodzki felt he swam best in a team environment even if the goal was NCAA competition and not on the international level. Grodzki became a double NCAA distance champion in March.
“It was about three days before the first dual when I decided against (redshirting),” Grodzki said. “I realized that I needed to be with a team. I was supposed to go to some grand prix meet that weekend and I realized I don’t want to go there. I want to be with my team. Even though it would be an advantage to not have to taper for NCAAs like I did, ultimately it would be better for me to have the same goal as my teammates, which would help keep me much more focused throughout the year.”
Grodzki’s training peaked for the NCAA championships last month. Since then, he has needed to re-train for the biggest international meet of his life so far and will compete on a meter standard instead of a yard standard. Although Grodzki might be at a disadvantage in pace of training, he believes he can more than make up for it with a competitive edge earned in the recently completed NCAA season.
“Just having guys who have the same goal as you makes a huge difference,” Grodzki said. “When people have different goals, it’s very, very difficult to stay motivated throughout the whole process. I realized that doing that for a whole year would kind of kill my training. I had a lot of fun this season, maybe the most fun I’ve ever had swimming. So it was well worth it.”