Like many MIT students, Wyatt L. Ubellacker ’13 is going to be around campus this summer, doing a UROP in Mechanical Engineering. When late June comes around, however, Ubellacker will venture out to an unlikely midsummer destination: Omaha, Nebraska, the site of the USA Swimming Olympic Trials. The Tech talked to Wyatt about his ongoing preparations for the trials and his experiences swimming at MIT.
The Tech: How did you qualify for the Olympic Trials? What events will you be competing in at the Trials?
Wyatt Ubellacker: I’ll be swimming in the 50-free. I’m hoping to qualify for the 100-free and the 100-fly this weekend in a meet at MIT. I qualified for the 50-free shortly after the Division III Nationals in the same pool (at IU Natatorium).
TT: Usually, your season is over in March; now, your season is extended and you have another couple months. What’s changed about your training as you prepare for the Trials?
WU: The training isn’t any different than normal — I’m just training like normal. I’m still adjusting to swimming long course races (when the length of the pool used is 50 meters rather than 25) as 90 percent of my training is done in short course. In the long term though, I think that the long course will actually be better for me, given my height and the need to make more turns in short course races.
TT: Who are you training with right now?
WU: This year, the NCAA made an exception to allow student-athletes competing in the Olympic Trials to be trained by their coaches. So, I’m training with my normal coach, MIT coach Samantha Pitter.
TT: At the Trials, will you know any of the competition? What age range is typically represented at the Trials?
WU: I know a couple of guys from Division III Nationals who will be at the Trials. Most of the competition in my events will be around college-age, but you will see swimmers as young as 14 and as old as 30 or 40 at the Trials.
TT: Coming out of high school, did you want to or consider going to Division I schools particularly for swimming?
WU: I didn’t really get fast until my senior year of high school, and even then, only in the 50-free. I could have walked on at Purdue, but … it’s MIT.
TT: You have to be driven in the pool in order to make it to Olympic Trials and are clearly driven academically. How do you think your swimming has affected your work as a student at MIT?
WU: It certainly helps me get things done quicker; I don’t have time to mess around on Facebook or anything like that. As far as drive, I’m not sure … I think that’s something that I was born with or that I learned growing up.
TT: Headed into the Trials, are you hoping for a particular time or place? How are you approaching the meet against brand new competition?
WU: I want to get my best time. I’m not going to win, but I think that it will be a good experience.
TT: Four years down the road, would you want to try again if you could?
WU: Obviously, there are a lot of variables involved with that, but I’m not going to stop swimming after I graduate.