Most swimming programs
would be in a quandary after losing a pair of four-year All-American sprinters
(Dan Perdew and Todd Langland) in one year. At UC San Diego, the men's swimming
team, while certainly re-tooling, is fortunate to have junior Blake Langland
still in the fold. Blake, who not
only has two years of collegiate experience with to aforementioned duo but an
entire lifetime competing with his brother, Todd, has always played a solid
role for the Tritons but Head Coach Scott McGihon feels he's ready to be the
leading man. "Blake has emerged this season with a greater intensity and desire
to be successful," says McGihon. "He has dedicated himself to becoming a better
swimmer and athlete and this has trickled down to the other athletes in his
training group-the result being the group and team are training at a much
higher level." Langland turned in an all-time best in the 100 freestyle at the
recent Arena Invitational and with the fall season winding down, he took time
to share his thoughts on the year-to-date and what lies ahead.
Q-Perdew, a five-time
NCAA champion, and your brother, Todd, one of the top sprinters in UCSD
history, have both graduated. What's it feel like to be out of their shadows
and at the top of the sprinting heap this year?
definitely feels different. They both taught me a lot, and were great teammates
to have. Going into this year I was a little worried about how much our sprint
events and relays were going to suffer having these two gone. However, looking
at what our new freshmen have already done, and how much the returners have
improved, I can't help but feel proud and excited for what's to come.
Q-Does it seem
strange to not have your brother in the pool with you at training and meets?
seem a bit strange. We started competitive swimming on the same day, and more
or less have spent every day in the pool together since then. He has come with
my parents to a few meets so far to show his support and help out the coaches,
so he is still part of the team in that sense.
Q-What did you learn
from having those two as mentors that past two seasons?
LANGLAND-A lot of
what I learned from them was race strategy. I still have a lot to learn, but I
think my race strategies have changed a lot since I came in as a freshman and
that is partly due to them. Daniel always told me to really take out my 100
free almost like a 50 and then hold on at the end. I had really been doing the
opposite, pacing my first 50 and then trying to blast the second.
Q-In an event like
the 50 or 100 freestyle, where swimmers barely have time to breath, much less
think, how much of it is mental?
LANGLAND-A lot of
it is mental, knowing that your body is trained to do the right thing at the
right moment. Sometimes I go up to my coaches after my race and they ask me
what I thought of it, and I can't even remember. It goes by so quickly you
don't have time to think about what to do next, it just has to come natural.
between first and last in a typical sprint is less than a second. Besides
innate ability, what typically determines the winner?
coaches always tell us, "Just get your hand on the wall first, beat the person
next to you." Obviously how well you put together a race is going to be the biggest
factor. Making sure that all the parts of your race other than the actual
swimming (start, turns, breakout, finish) are perfect is a huge factor. However
when it really comes down to it, I think that sometimes it's really who wants
it more, who is going to not take that last breath and just put their head down
and charge the wall.
Q-Knowing that, what
kind of training do you do to maximize your performance in those areas?
year, I think that we have put a higher priority on areas like our start and
turns, to make sure that we always execute them perfectly in races. When we get
to a new pool for a meet, we make it a point to get lots of full speed turns
and starts in to make sure we feel good with those aspects of our race. If you
have to worry about whether you are going to nail your finish during a race,
its more than likely not going to go well. Our team is also pretty competitive
during practices, giving us the drive to want to win that is so important in
Q-One can imagine the
type of pressure in a high level 50 freestyle race. What do you do to stay
relaxed in the lead-up to an event and where's your focus once you're on the
I just don't think about it until I have to. Like I said earlier, if I think
about a turn or worry about my finish, it probably won't turn out the way I
want it to. So, I just leave the thinking for practice, and know that when I
get to a race I have done all that I can to make it perfect. Once I'm on the
blocks, all I'm thinking about is hearing the start, and getting into the
water. After that, it's all a blur.
Q-Have you always
been strictly a sprint freestyle specialist? Are there other events you have
swum or would like to try?
school I definitely had more variety in my races than in college. Compared to
my teammates I'm fairly horrible at these events, but I used to swim
breaststroke, individual medley and more mid-distance races like the 200 and
500 free. As far as what I'd like to try, I'm pretty happy with my races
already, but maybe the 100 back or breast for some variety.
Q-Are there different
types of sprinters in terms of body styles, strokes, strategies? How would you
characterize your style?
of body style, a lot of sprinters are pretty tall but there are also some that
are shorter and more muscular. Everyone really has their own stroke, but if I
had to classify them I would say there are the straight arm swimmers and then
the non- straight arm. Straight arm freestyle is where one keeps their arm
straight in the part of the stroke that is out of the water. For the 50 the
strategy is pretty much standard: go fast. It's really just an all out sprint.
The 100 has more strategy, but it really just comes down to who can go the fastest
and hold onto that speed until the end. Compared to a lot of sprinters I am
fairly short, and have the standard non-straight arm freestyle.
Q-At the collegiate
level, is swimming more about times or victories?
really about both, but I think that with victories come great times. At our
meets, in the morning we try to go for time to get placed in the top finals,
but in finals at night all that counts is victories.
Q-Despite the loss of
some big names from last year's squad, the 2010-11 UCSD men's swimming &
diving team looks like it has the potential to take a step forward at this
year's NCAA Division II Championships. Is that a fair assessment? Why?
it's definitely a fair assessment. We definitely lost some big names, but we
gained some also. The past two years have been really great teams but I think
that the new swimmers this year really have brought a new energy and drive that
will really make the team great. I think looking at our performance as a team
this past weekend at Arena Invitational is a great example of this.
Q-Is there a swimmer
on this year's UCSD men's team that you think is going to surprise a lot of
people before the season is over? Who, if anyone, stands above the crowd in
terms of work ethic and attitude?
that the team as a whole is going to surprise a lot of people this year. Like I
said, the work ethic and attitude of the new swimmers is great, and it's
Q-For you, what's the
best part about being a member of the UCSD Swimming & Diving team?
part of being part of the team is really being part a team. I had a
great coach and teammates in high school and club swimming, but there was not
nearly the camaraderie and spirit that this team has.
Q-You're a computer
science major in Warren College. Are you taking any interesting classes this
quarter? What kind of things are you studying in those classes right now?
quarter I am taking two very interesting classes: Theory of Computation and
Algorithms. In Theory of Computation we are studying what problems can and can't
be solved by computers, and creating models of these computations to understand
how they work. In my Algorithms class we are studying how some well-known
algorithms are used to solve problems, as well as how to apply these algorithms
to new problems.
Q-What do you plan to
do with your major when you graduate? You were recently awarded a scholarship
from Cisco Systems through the UCSD Engineering Dept. How did that come about
and what will it entail?
still trying to decide whether I want to go to graduate school or go straight
into industry with my degree. The scholarship was pointed out to me by my
coach, so I decided to apply for it, and next thing I knew they were inviting
me to an awards dinner. I am very grateful for it and once again want to thank
the UCSD Engineering department, UCSD Athletics and Cisco Systems for their
Q-As a native of
Carmel, you've now lived in Northern and Southern California. What are some of
the differences you've noticed and what do you like about each?
are things that I like about both. In Carmel I lived sort of out in the middle
of nowhere and I miss being able to go outside and do whatever I wanted. The
weather is definitely better in San Diego (a lot less fog).
Q-What kinds of
things do you like to do when you're out of the pool and not studying?
free time I like to watch movies, play video games and tinker with my
computers. Also I like to catch up on my sleep.
Q-You swam a career
best 45.29 in the 100 at the recent Arena Invitational and your 20.79 in the 50
at the same meet was less than 0.1 seconds off your p.r. What do you think
you're capable of and what would make 2010-11 a success for you personally?
Really after getting a
personal best in my 100, this season is already a success in some sense. But
after that swim it really makes me want to go even faster. I don't really like
to set specific time goals for myself, but I think I am capable of keeping up
the hard work and going faster than I have ever gone before. More important to
me is how well the team does at Nationals, and I think we are more than capable
of some amazing things.
Previous Q & A Articles
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009