Head shots of the 4 men and 4 women on Team USA's sabre fencing team for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Team USA Sabre Fencing and US Olympic Swimming Trials Recap Continued

Release Date: June 20, 2024

Category: Fencing | Podcast | Swimming

We’re getting on the fencing strip with all of the sabre fencers who will represent Team USA at the Paris 2024 Olympics this summer. This motley crew includes:

  • Maia Chamberlain
  • Tatiana Nazlymov
  • Magda Skarbonkiewicz
  • Elizabeth Tartakovsky
  • Eli Dershwitz
  • Filip Dolegiewicz
  • Colin Heathcock
  • Mitchell Saron

Alison spoke with them at USA Fencing’s pre-Olympics media day in May and got some great insight on how the sport works, how they balance sport and life, and what they’re looking forward to at Paris.

Jill has another report from the US Swimming Olympic Trials, including:

  • Lydia Jacoby’s tough 100m breaststroke race
  • Bobby Finke qualifying in the 800m freestyle
  • Katie Ledecky’s dominance in the 1500m
  • Gabrielle Rose, the 46-year-old, 2x Olympian that could
  • More from the Aqua Zone

Team USA has released its Ralph Lauren-designed Opening and Closing Ceremony uniforms, and as usual, we have some hot takes (literally).

In TKFLASTAN news, we hear from:

  • Diver Andrew Capobianco
  • Pole vaulter Katie Moon – her alma mater is raising funds to build a pillar of honor for her.

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!



Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

348-Sabre Fencing and US Olympic Swimming Trials

Theme Music

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics.

If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?

Alison: I don’t think you’re properly dressed yet again for the show.

Where’s your face mask? Where’s your weapon?

Jill: Where are my knickers? Where are your knickers?

Alison: Though you can wear sneakers and we will get to that.

Team USA Sabre Fencing

Jill: Exactly. Exactly. So we are talking fencing today. I will tell you I’m coming once again from the land of refrigeration. I don’t know if you can hear the hums. In the background, there’s just a lot of electrical hums here at the media center for the U. S. Olympic swimming trials. , I got to tell you, I was supposed to leave after we taped today because I was going to stay for the morning session and I cannot go before I see the women’s 100 meter free and the women’s 1500 meter free.

Alison: So, let me ask you a question, well, you know what, I’m going to save it for when we talk about the trials, because I do have a question about appropriate behavior in the press box.


Jill: Well, you know. We will get to that. So we are, we are starting. Oh my gosh. I was when I started getting into the tape that you had collected, you got so much tape and it is so interesting. [00:02:00] And, and then I went, we can not have like a four hour show today.

Alison: You know, USA fencing. Thank you so much for having me and for being so generous with the time.

And yes, I got to sit down with the entire USA Olympic fencing team and just. Once we got started, we got into all kinds of details about fencing, about life, about training, about the Olympics, that I, by interviewing everybody in one day, took me in so many different directions that I didn’t expecElizabeth t.

Jill: Yeah, and the, the stories you got were really interesting, especially to get different perspectives on the sport, or how they’re approaching it, or how they think about life and sport and balance and all that jazz.

Let’s get right to it today. We’re doing Sabre today.

Alison: So we’re doing Sabre. So first we’re going to talk to the women. Now, this is the team that won gold at the 2023 Pan American Championships. So we have, , Maia Chamberlain, who’s going to be competing in the team event. She was the 2018 NCAA Sabre champion from Princeton, , Tatyana Nazlimov, who’s going She also competes for Princeton and she will be competing in the team and individual events in Paris.

Magda Skarabankovic is the youngest member of a team. Talk to her a little bit about graduating high school and she will be heading to Notre Dame in the fall. She will also be competing in both team and individual. And finally, Elizabeth Tartakovsky, who is the 2022 NCAA individual champion. She competes for Harvard and she’ll be both team and individual.

In Paris.

Jill: All right, take a listen to the women of the U. S. Sabre fencing team.

Maia Chamberlain

Maia Chamberlain: Hi, my name’s Maia Chamberlain.

Alison: I want to talk a little bit about women’s sabre in the United States, because once it got into the Olympics, you know, obviously there’s Mariel Zagunis, and it has become kind of the best event for American women. What about American fencing and women’s sabre goes together?

Maia Chamberlain: [00:04:00] Well, I think many people were excited that Women’s Sabre became an Olympic event. And I think the Americans took it by storm and absolutely loved it with, all the, Pop culture references with sword fighting and everything to have the woman be able to finally do it is just really cool and also extremely expire inspiring for lots of young women out there.

I mean, if, Olympic fencing wasn’t a sport, I mean, if it wasn’t available, then I probably wouldn’t have gotten into it in the first place. So I’m really grateful for that.

Alison: What about saber , was right for you?

Maia Chamberlain: I personally really love the dynamic actions of slashing compared to poking, compared to the other two weapons.

So, I grew up watching Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and I would just like play with sticks and play with lightsabers when I was little, like, with whoever came in through the door, I guess. When I tried fencing for the first time, uh, it actually happened to be a saber club, so, it really clicked. and when I tried the other weapons, like fuller and epee, uh, it didn’t really have the same connection that I had with saber.

Alison: I saw your, , Star Wars reference in the notes. What color is your lightsaber?

Maia Chamberlain: It was always Blue or green, but that’s because I always thought those were the only two options for For the good guys, I guess but when I realized there’s more options, I think I would go with Like maybe a white.

I think that’s sick So I would, I would go

Alison: and it matches your new, is it new hair?

Maia Chamberlain: Yes. I got this done yesterday, so I would love, it’s very new hair light saber to match with my hair, with my platinum blonde hair. . Yeah.

Alison: Talk a little bit about putting together a team, because you’re coming from different universities.

Summer are posts, summer are pre. How does that come together? And the four or five of you have to work together now?

Maia Chamberlain: Yes. So we’ve all. Been competing with and against each other [00:06:00] for over the years. So honestly, when the team came together, we already knew each other. So, and we all got along. So, creating a team dynamic isn’t too hard and, uh, we’re all quite young.

We’re a very young team, uh, compared to the U S, uh, events. and even like the world’s fencing stage. So, everyone has an open mind. And I think that that’s what gives us a good amount of team rapport.

Alison: What are you hoping for? What will success look like for you for Paris?

Maia Chamberlain: Success will first look like good fencing, like actions, Going to plan and of course in the end we want a medal Preferably gold and I think we can do that with this team

Alison: Fantastic.

Tatiana Nazlymov

Tatiana Nazlimov. Perfect. So I’m very curious about growing up in a fencing family and how early you started.

Tatiana Nazlymov: Okay, so actually not as early as you may think. I started when I was nine years old, which is pretty I would say average for most fencers.

I know a lot of kids start earlier, but, growing up in a fencing family, my grandfather used to coach at Ohio state. So in the summers, we would always spend the summer at Ohio state doing camps with all like the big kids, helping them get ready for summer nationals. And my brother and I would just goof around and stuff.

Alison: Did you do other sports before you got into fencing or even in the early days?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Yeah. So my first sport, I was actually a big horse girl. I did equitation up until. I think almost like sophomore year of high school. So I competed for a while up until fencing. Really, I decided to focus on that.

Alison: Do you feel like that helped your fencing that you were doing other things?

Tatiana Nazlymov: I think it did. It was good to have something else to do because I know a lot of kids get burnt out, especially because fencing, a lot of kids, they start really early and they train a lot, but it was nice for me. I did [00:08:00] fencing three times a week and then twice a week I would go ride horses. So it was good.

Alison: Are you going to have time to get out to Versailles for any of the equestrian?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Oh, I hope so.

Alison: Our event ends early, so I would hope so. I mean, not that the Paris fencing venue is anything to shake a stick at. Of course, yeah. So why Sabre?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Sabre, well, that’s just what ran in my family, so kind of passed on the torch.

What do you like about it? , I really like that it’s an individual sport, obviously equestrian fencing, both individual sports. Yeah. And there’s a lot of, room for creativity. And I want to say just, like, freedom, you know? At the end of the day, it’s just you, it’s a combat sport, and you’re an opponent.

And I like that. One other thing I really like is that everyone knows the same actions. But it depends on what order you use them in, you know, tricking your opponent into thinking you’re doing something else. That part of the game is what I like most.

Alison: How much prep work are you doing against your opponent, in terms of strategy?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Oh, a lot. So, before World Cups, when pools are posted, I always take a look at who my opponents are, and I watch their videos on YouTube, and I create a plan. Like, 1, 2, 3, what do they do? What do I do? What’s the sequence?

Alison: And how does that limit you? Like you feel limited if you have to adjust on the fly or how does that play into, they change things, cause they know you’re watching them.

Tatiana Nazlymov: Yeah. So that’s the thing. honestly for me, it’s really helpful because I just get nervous if I go in without a plan and I tend to just watch, which in Sabre is a big no, no. So even if the plan is wrong, you know, My coaches always tell me stick to the plan a hundred percent. If you lose, then you know what to fix.

But if you go in without a plan, then there’s nothing you can really do.

Alison: what’s your favorite kind of opponent to face?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Like tactically,

Alison: tactically, height wise, when you, any, anything, when you see that, that. Type of fencer is gonna be the opposite. You’re like, okay, I’m gonna [00:10:00] get to do my favorite thing I’m going to get okay, kind of plan a certain way that I love.

Tatiana Nazlymov: Yeah, I mean generally I love when my opponent is defensive because I try to structure a lot of my fencing around attacking And also, honestly, when they’re like pretty fiery, that’s fun because I’m normally not super crazy on the strip and I like to be calm and collected as much as I can and I feel like that’s an interesting dynamic in the bout.

Alison: You said nerves is a problem for you. Yes. How have you been working on that specifically going into the Olympics?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Oh, so. Um, ever since I was like, 10, 12, started competing at the little circuits, regional circuits, , I always did it. There’s this app, Headspace, really, really, yeah, I use it religiously. , shout out to Andy, he narrates all of those packs for me.

But it’s just a short 10 minute meditation, they have some geared specifically towards competition, and I use those religiously.

Alison: What has changed in your fencing since you’ve been at Princeton?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Oh, that’s interesting. So, this year, obviously, going into Princeton, I have a different coach and different actions.

So, I wouldn’t say anything has changed, but I do think I have added some actions. So, sometimes when I’m at a competition, and my coach at Princeton, Oleg, he works on a lot of counter parries. So sometimes when I score a counter Perry, my coach from home will be like, Oh yeah, that’s him. That’s not me. So

Now you said, Oh, like, so I’m curious as to his fencing background as an ethnicity or country where he trained.

Tatiana Nazlymov: Oh, leg. Yes. He, in the Ukraine, Soviet Union and your family , also Soviet union, but Russia. Okay.

Alison: So was there a difference in terms of their coaching styles , and how they would work with Sabre?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Yeah, so they actually do have different approaches to similar things. I’d say, I mean, Soviet system is all very similar, but I mean, I think you can generalize by country, like some countries do this more, some [00:12:00] countries do this.

I feel like, in general, Soviet countries are pretty defensive,

Alison: I asked this earlier of Margarita. Yes. Were you coached in English or Russian growing up? , Russian, do you still think in Russian when you’re fencing?

Tatiana Nazlymov: Ooh, I would say my thoughts are in English, but all the coaching I’m receiving is in Russian, which is interesting.

And when I cheer though, I don’t know if you know, uh, like very common Russian cheer. You hear it all the time, probably. So that the urge to scream that slips out, no matter who I’m cheering on, like American teammates, when we’re fencing the team event, I always want to be like, and I’m like, no, like, let’s go

Alison: country.

When you’re fencing, do you talk to yourself in English or Russian?

Tatiana Nazlymov: I would say just generally, I think I’m American, so I think in English. For Russian, I mean, not for Russian, for fencing especially, it’s also English, yeah.

Alison: But here’s the best question, do you swear in English or Russian?

Tatiana Nazlymov: It depends on who’s around,

Alison: I’d say.

What are you expecting of yourself? Out of Paris.

Tatiana Nazlymov: And also just for your fencing at the

Alison: Olympics.

Tatiana Nazlymov: Yeah. This is a new big thing. I mean, I’m a newbie, obviously. It’s gonna be a lot. I go in with no expectations, of course. I think it’s, it’s not good for my fencing when I go in thinking, Oh, I need to do this, I need to get a medal, I need to blah, blah, blah.

So, at this point in time, I’m just trusting the process. I’m gonna train as hard as I can for the next two months we have, and We’ll see how it goes.

Alison: Did winning the medal at Pan Am change your mental game at all? In terms of, did it give you more confidence or did it put more pressure?

Tatiana Nazlymov: I wouldn’t say it put more pressure at all.

You know, Pan Ams, we have a very set list of opponents. It’s a very isolated part of the fencing community, the Americas, but obviously I think anytime you’re on the podium, it’s a good like reinforcement. It’s good for your confidence.

Alison: How [00:14:00] heavy is the Sabre?

Tatiana Nazlymov: I think it’s for sure lighter than the epee. Maybe same as foil, maybe a little heavier.

Sabre. , but you get used to it. It doesn’t feel heavy at all. It’s not like, Oh, I need to, it’s never like that.

Alison: Cause it looks that way. It’s not at

Tatiana Nazlymov: all. Yeah. I can show you

Alison: later. It’s very light. Don’t let me near a weapon. Okay. Sorry. Because I will hurt you or myself. And that would end very badly. They wouldn’t invite me back.

Thank they’re waving at me. So Tatiana very much.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: my name is

Alison: magda skarbonkiewicz

We’re talking all fencing today, but I have the most important question for you today. Are you missing your high school graduation?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Yes. High school graduation, I’m online. So prom, prom was actually here in New York when I was here for the gala, but I didn’t know anyone, so. We went for like 10 minutes, because I was like, I don’t know anyone, what am I going to do here? But my boyfriend was here, so we got a nice dinner and we hung out, so it was great.

Alison: So it’s hard, I mean it’s hard to balance that life as an 18 year old and an elite athlete.

How are you doing this and how is your family doing it? Because everybody is in this system.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: So, like I said, I switched, Online for my senior year of high school where like everyone’s like this is gonna be the year you have, all the traditions, all of like your graduation, senior prom, this is gonna be like the year of senior and I missed out on, on all of it because you know, I missed 50 days of school last year so I’m like you can’t really balance that.

The fact that I was able to keep my grades up alone was like, oh, mental health was in the dumps doing that so, , yeah, it’s definitely been. I’m very independent, so you know, I go to Starbucks or somewhere, like a coffee shop, do my work, go to training. It’s a lot more fencing than I expected, and when your stress goes from a lot of school and from junior year, which is very tough, to , just fencing, you get like, You’re like, okay, I like I have to succeed.

[00:16:00] It becomes your whole mindset. So it’s definitely tougher. My family definitely saw different emotional sides to me that I could, you know, I didn’t show as much because I was constantly busy. They have time, but it’s like you have no time in all time preparing.

Alison: That’s very true. And now you’re going to your first Olympics, you are very young, how is that playing into trying to wrap your head around all of this?

Or are you? I mean, you probably won’t even absorb what this all means for 10 years, and that’s totally fine.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Yeah, wrapping my head around it. So, you know, of course, like for me, I’m not gonna actually be like, whoa, I’m at the Olympics, gonna be there until I’m there. Right now, it’s like, And we’re doing all the little, like the gala, the interviews.

It’s like, wow, like, okay. But it’s still stressful because, you know, it’s like, a lot of weight is lifted once you qualify. But then, for me, it’s my own pressure to perform. And how am I going to prepare for these next two months to succeed how I want? Because I want to make changes and adjust, adjustments from what I learned, I would like to focus more before events and outside of it. And my dad and I also discussed volunteering probably more before the event because my life has been go, go, go, constantly. Plane, competition, back home, plane, repeat. So he’s like, yeah, once you get home from, I’ve been gone for a month, , on my own.

Once you get home, let’s do some volunteering. Go to a retirement home. I spent like over 50, 100 hours there previous summers when I had time. So do that and get a different perspective on life, It takes a moment to be like, hey, all the other ways, help people out, give back to community.

Alison: What are changes you’re trying to make between now and Paris?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: You know, I want to try and get off my phone more. You’re 18 Magda, it’s okay.

Alison: That’s what you’re supposed to do. I know,

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: because, I go make some, you know, post or reels on my account and [00:18:00] that’s fine, but like I’d want to get away from the scrolling and It’s like almost like an addiction you scroll you scroll you get the instant kicks of like Dopamine and like okay, but I want to get away from that because that almost Speeds up my fencing because I’m constantly distracted.

I’m already like, you know Not diagnosed, but ADHD, my mind’s all over, scatterbrain. So I’m like, I want to be able to focus and just find peace within myself because that’s been a struggle this season. accepting myself, just like, my achievements, trying to figure out the journey and not just results.

Like, I’m not defined by my results, but Because I peaked like very early with a bunch of different things. it caused me to define myself by results. And you know, people are just enjoy the journey. You’re going to have ups and downs. Nothing’s always going to go right. The fencing is almost like preparation for real life.

Alison: I am ADHD diagnosed recently as an adult. So, you know, it’s, I hear you and there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot going on. It’s a lot of pieces. You’ve decided to go to Notre Dame.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Yeah.

Alison: Why Notre Dame?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: I got offers from different IVs. I had a lot of, different places asking me, like, hey, do you want to go?

But Notre Dame, my dad has always told me from a younger age, it’s like, you can balance. The community there, first of all, is amazing. The coaches are amazing. so supporting. They’re there. And it’s, you know, you can balance fencing and school. Which is what I’d like to do because, you know, I’m going to go to college.

Definitely going to want a break after Olympics. But I’m still going to want to succeed in both. And with, you know, I want to be able to go to fencing, go to practice, and then have people be able to help me with school, they said. You’ll be able to get tutors when you need. It’s very supportive all around.

You get a lot of equipment, which is really exciting for me. And yeah, I just like to, [00:20:00] because my life has always been more fencing than, like I have school, but I went to do the extracurriculars, have a lot of friends, I had to sacrifice a lot, so I like to just be able to, you know, step back and absorb it all.

Alison: Now you said you’re excited about the equipment. Are you a bit of an equipment head?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Well, um, A lot of my clothes, most of my clothes, 75 percent of my closet is free. It’s been given to me. So I’m like, you know what, Pan Ams, I got so much clothes. I’m like wearing the Pan Am t shirt today. The jacket I’m wearing is free.

I’m like, you know what, all the sports equipment. I’m like, yeah, I like

Alison: the free equipment when I can take it. Does the spirit of Mariel Zagunis, Sort of hover over that Notre Dame.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Yeah, Notre Dame. She also went to my club. when I was 1213, I was able to train with her and see how she worked her work ethic was next level.

It’s like watching a movie, how serious she took it. And just how humble she was to after, like you step out, you wouldn’t be able to guess she was an Olympian because you know, and then the day fencing is an amazing sport, but you step out, not many Like, I’d love to grow the sport more, but not many people are going to know you, and I feel like you have to treat everyone equal, not like you’re ranking.

So she’s won Olympics twice, and it’s still like, I was 12, and she’s fencing me, and she’d treat me and mentor me. So, you know, it’s what I’d like to follow and take from her, is the humility she had. And That ranking and your results don’t define you, but who you are as a person outside of the sport also.

Alison: I want to scream at you, results don’t define you. You know, it is like the mother in me. Yeah.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: What will success feel like to you in Paris? Success, if you asked me a year ago, I’d probably say a medal. But this year has definitely taught me, like, I haven’t medaled this season, at any international because I jumped [00:22:00] from under 20 to seniors very quick. And so it’s tough for us. I’m like, okay. just seeing my work pay off and just growth in myself and being, being able to change some of the things that I think is taking away from me fully being able to put myself on the stage and do everything I can. Of course I can’t say, oh, like, you know, the medals don’t matter at all.

They do. But, yeah, at the end of the day, if I’m not able to do that, I just want to be able to step out and know that I did everything I could.

Alison: What was that transition like, going from the under 20s up to the senior? What was the biggest difference?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: How mature people are, how, it’s not just the fencing that changes, it’s mentality. Everything is going to change with how people treat it mentally. And I feel like I had to expedite my mental growth with that this season and try and learn.

So I’ve been very, it’s been very up and down for my mental health. Because everyone there, it’s like their 25 30s, like late 25 30s. So it’s like. they’ve been fencing 10 years longer than me at least. And I’m there as an 18 year old being like, Hey, okay, how do I handle this? so yeah, definitely trying to learn quickly, but you know, it’s going to take time.

Alison: What are you asking your teammates? you have teammates who’ve been around , this sport for a long time. , what are they telling you and what are you asking them about that mental aspect?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Just balance because we get so caught up. In the sport, it becomes your whole life. But how do you balance things outside?

How do you take a step back and realize, hey, this isn’t the only thing for me. My sport doesn’t define me. Because right now, because I went online, you know, I don’t have, a whole social group of, like, crazy friends because I’m constantly going. It’s like, how will I be able to, after Olympics, take a step back and not redefine, but just, you know, go to college and know that I’m not just fencing.

And so [00:24:00] we’ve had dinners, we’ve hung out so many times, done team meetings where it’s just like, okay, we take a step back, no fencing, and we just get to know each other’s personalities. And it’s been an amazing experience with them, even though I’ve only had two, three years with them, just getting to know them, who you are outside of fencing, outside of the sport.

And they’ve just been so supportive. I could not ask for a better team

Alison: When you transition back from juniors to seniors to college. How is it different? How is how are the tournaments different?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: The tournaments, like the kids are younger, or like, I guess I’m so the people are more my age, they’re less experienced, but then by then I’m gonna have one new year. One more year of a youth tournament, and then I’m in the seniors, so I’m gonna be, I guess, almost one of the role models for them.

Definitely. How people fence physically. It’s just, you know, learning. Who’s had more experience and what not. So yeah.

Alison: And they’ll take care of you at Notre Dame.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Yeah. I’m so excited. And college fencing is going to be totally different from, any of the other fencing.

And what I’m most excited for is that it’s a team. Because this sport is so individual. You’re on your own for most of it. What I like to say is like, fencing, you grow up super quickly. You have to mature super quickly. Because Everything’s go, go, go. It’s like a mini adult world that almost like an adult simulation or something.

so I’m excited to actually have like a full team. I’m with constantly that like very supportive and we get to cheer each other on. It’s a team sport almost in college.

Alison: your father is your coach. Yes. How is that balance?

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: you know, when are you dad? When are you?

When do you coach this season? , it’s definitely been a learning experience for both him and I of learning when to take a step back and just be have the family relationship and when to have the coach. So we’ve definitely had our ups and downs as anyone would. Because I’ve been at home a lot. So it’s like, when do when does he coach me?

When do I be? Yeah. [00:26:00] Uh, student instead of a daughter. So, you know, despite the ups and downs, we still have a very strong relationship. And after Olympics, I think we’re both going to be able to relax and just be like, Hey, let’s forget fencing for a hot second. And I’m also going to be graduated, so. So, he’ll be able to focus a lot on my siblings more, which I’m excited for.

Alison: And you’ll now have a whole new coaching team. You have a whole new coaching team. Yeah, it’s gonna be a big switch. Yeah, so how is, even with the national team, you have a whole different coaching system.

Magda Skarbonkiewicz: Yeah, I mean I don’t take it to heart, like, oh I have a different coach, this is gonna change. No, it’s, it’s just being flexible.

You have to, with fencing, I’ve learned to be very open. And I’m also missing school constantly. You just have to communicate, is a big thing for me. With your teachers, with your coaches, with your, your teammates. It’s all about communication, being open, and just being responsible. Like, hey, I need this, this, and this.

I can give you this, this, and this. , so yeah, definitely the teachers at my school taught me that. And managing grades. , so that’s gonna be, I don’t think, a huge challenge to make that transition. Did you pick your major yet? Yeah, I think I’m gonna go with marketing. Of course, that could switch because I love design, I love art, but I’m like, realistically, you know, I don’t want to turn my hobby into my job.

So I’m like, hey, marketing’s open, it’s very creative. You know, things are gonna change. I can’t say for sure. I’m gonna major in marketing, but Well, that’s what we’re going in for now. Excellent.

Elizabeth Tartakovsky

Alison: Be open. Yes, exactly the whole experience Elizabeth Tartakovsky, happy birthday.

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: Thank you. I was

Alison: very excited. I was like, oh we get the butcher Sabre yes, why Sabre?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: The way I was introduced to the sport is because, my current coach, he is also a relative of mine. He’s almost like a great uncle.

His name is Yuri Gelman, and he, was the former U. S. Olympic coach for the men’s sabre team. and when [00:28:00] I was younger, I tried out a lot of sports, nothing really stuck. My main sport was ballet, and it just wasn’t something that stuck. stimulating enough for me. So Yuri told my sister and I to try it out.

This was, I started in 2008 when, Yuri’s Olympic team, the men’s saber team, they got the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics and I saw fencing on the TV and it looked really cool. I’ve never seen anything like it and so, I tried it out with my older sister. I loved whacking her with a sword.

I loved, that it was both athletic and strategic and, Yeah, the rest is history. Are you the younger or the older?

Alison: I’m the younger. You’re the younger sister. Oh yeah, as a younger sister, I fully support whacking older sisters with swords.

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: I needed a way to defend myself, you know?

I see no trouble with this.

Alison: Get the anger out. And you’ve come through, Sabre, and I hate to call you older on the Sabre team, but this is a very young team. But you’ve seen Sabre really come into its own here in the US. So how has that affected your development coming through at this point in American fencing?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: Yeah. I mean. Saber, especially Women’s Saber, is really young. So the first Olympics for Women’s Saber was 2004. that’s where Mariel Zagunis won the gold. So she is the first Olympic gold medalist for Women’s Saber. And I actually met her at, I think, one of my first national tournaments. And I took a photo with her and, I also trained around Dagmara Wozniak, who, she was, the replacement athlete for Mariel Zagunis.

Beijing 2008 Olympics, and then went on to go to 2012, 2016, and the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. so I grew up around, these role models and these women that really made Sabre and made the history of U. S. women’s Sabre. and at some point I was even starting [00:30:00] to compete against them.

So it It’s really special, almost, it’s almost poetic to be able to compete against your mentors. and they’re really, especially Dagmar Wozniak, who, we had the same coach, Yuri Gelman. she has always been a mentor of mine, and even when we were competing against each other, she provided so much valuable feedback and advice and was always looking out for me.

So, I feel like they left us very big shoes to fill, but I am only here because of them. And, it’s an honor to be able to kind of continue their legacy and, and write a new story for USA Women’s Saver. So, Yeah, it’s incredibly special.

Alison: So you mentioned Mariel Zagunis who retired after Tokyo. So now we’ve got some Sabre With that, do you feel it? Do you feel that difference with her not on the team?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: Yeah I mean, it’s it’s definitely a difference because now our team is this is everyone’s first time Olympics it’s almost kind of sad that I wish we could have at least one of the former Olympians there with us to lead the way.

Luckily, Dagmar Wozniak is going to be with us as the team captain. so she’s going to kind of help us, show us the ropes. But it’s, special to be able to now, become a leader myself and, emulate the women that I saw before me on the team.

Alison: How is American Saber viewed around the world and in the other fencing countries?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: American Saber is, viewed as very strong. Historically, our history is very short, but we have achieved a lot, since those 2004 Olympics. , so the US team is very respected. And I think, we’ve done a good job. Our young team has done a good job of kind of [00:32:00] continuing that legacy.

And, and, , right off the bat, we, were in the top four in the world for a short, short bid, which is a huge accomplishment given we’re, a completely new squad. , so I would say that we’re trying our best To fill the shoes that were left for us. But, I think we’ve been able to prove that, although we are young, we are still the strong U S women’s sabre squad.

Alison: Fencing’s an individual sport, but there is a team aspect and you are all first timers. How was that coming together? Actually, what did you do to come together?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: Yeah. I mean, it took a lot to, Kind of just get to know each other, as people, as fencers. Uh, luckily, we had the opportunity to do some training camps, we went to the U. S. Olympic Center a few times in Colorado Springs, did some training camps overseas, and I think, uh, Just because we’re all from different parts of the country. I mean, I do train with, Maya Chamberlain. We have the same coach. just because we’re from different parts of the country, it’s really great to be able to go to these training camps, go to these competitions and hang out together, you know, do some sightseeing, some team bonding, team dinners. we do them pretty consistently throughout the season, and the time together really adds up, and helps us just, uh, appreciate each other as humans, fencers.

Alison: How is it going from college fencing Yeah,

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: when I did international fencing while I was in college, but it is a huge step to, graduate from NCAA fencing and just, and just do the international scene.

So I graduated, Harvard in May 2023. Thank you. And then I dedicated this past entire year [00:34:00] to qualifying for Paris. So this is my first time in my life being, almost a full time athlete. and it is it’s very different because all my life I had to make time for fencing in between my school schedule.

I was always a student and then an athlete. So it was almost fun, but it was almost fun to be an athlete full time and prioritize that but also it does put an extra pressure that now I am training more and the expectations are higher and Additionally, I guess just because this year is dedicated to Olympics.

I had all these expectations of, really improving and getting good results. So, you know, it’s a double edged sword.

Alison: No pun intended. Yeah. What’s your mental training look like?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: Yeah. So, In terms of mental training, I have been working with a sports psychologist since since I was in high school, and I’ve been working with him pretty consistently throughout high school, college, and he’s been incredibly helpful in just helping me understand all of those feelings and thoughts in my head. I mean, every athlete experiences fear, has to deal with loss, has to deal with and I think, you know, the, my biggest realization is that all of those thoughts and those feelings, you can’t always control, they’re going to be there.

And so it’s really about learning to leverage them and To learn that you can perform at your best even when you’re feeling fear, even when you’re doubtful, even when Yeah, you’re just not feeling a hundred percent. I mean It’s incredibly difficult to expect yourself to just feel fresh headed and ready to go every single day So the most important thing has just been accepting myself Where I’m at, and yeah, still, still [00:36:00] knowing that I can perform, no matter what I’m feeling that day.

Alison: Let’s handicap the competition for Paris and women’s saber. Obviously the United States is very strong. Who else should we be paying attention to?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: Yeah, I would say France, unfortunately the Olympics are in France and the French team is very good. , so I think they will have home court advantage, a home crowd.

but they are very, very strong. I think, number one in the world and number two in the world. They’re both French. So they have a very strong squad coming in. I would say, also Korea is very strong. , Ukraine is very strong. And Ukraine has a very experienced squad. They’ve meddled.

previously, multiple times the women that are currently on the team. So yeah, all those teams are, , are

Alison: ones to look out for as well. You surprised me saying Korea, because you don’t hear a lot about the Asian countries being very strong at fencing. How is their style different?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: I would say you don’t expect Korea just because they’re not the traditional European schools of fencing. However, I think they have gotten very good at just producing fencers. So they have very structured programs, training centers, great coaches. And so I would say, the Koreans as well, they’re very technical.

I mean, you can tell they train a lot. Very technical, very great footwork, very athletic, and I wouldn’t say they have, a style that’s so much, so much different, right? I, I think, maybe their style is a melting pot of Of all the traditional European schools, but, they’re just very, very consistent and, and very strong.

Alison: I’ve been asking people who are bilingual this question because you do speak Russian. Yes. Were you trained in Russian? Yeah, you were. Do you think in [00:38:00] Russian when you fence?

Elizabeth Tartakovsky: So no, I don’t think in Russian, , just because it, I’m mostly exposed to English, but, I do speak to my coach in Russian, , and he coaches me in Russian, you know, during the tournament, during a match.

so you would think I would think in Russian, but, um, I think it does give an upper hand just because, I mean, a lot of fencing is, there are a lot of Russian speaking fencers and coaches, but, more people understand English, so it is a little bit of a secret weapon that, um, If your coach is yelling something at you in Russian, the other side won’t understand.

Alison: Thank you so much. Let’s move on to the men. So the men is the all crimson and we do talk with each of them about this. So they all are either at Harvard, were at Harvard, or are going to Harvard. And this is the team that won the bronze medal at the world championships. So first up is Eli Dershowitz, who we actually talked to at the Team USA media summit.

I did not get to see him on fencing day. He is the 2023 men’s world champion. Champion in men’s sabre, and he will be competing at both the individual and team event. Filip Dologevic will be in the team event. He’s the 2022 Ivy League champion. Colin Heathcock is the youngest man competing for the fencing team.

He’s only 18, and he is committed to Harvard for the fall. And Mitchell Saron is competing in both the team and the individual sabre events in Paris. And he and Philip are roommates at Harvard, and they both talk about each other in our interviews.

Jill: Incredible. And, and another prompt to USA Fencing for giving you quiet space because boy, the sound quality you got was incredible.

And when we listened to Eli Dershowitz, you could, you get back into the Team USA Media Summit, , hubbub of excitement. Take a listen.

Eli Dershwitz

Eli Dershwitz: How is it possible for Saber to be better than Epee? Yes,

Jill: knowing that I met my husband.

Eli Dershwitz: I would say that if you were an extremely patient person, then maybe Epee is the sport for you. , I like things to [00:40:00] be done fast. I like them to be explosive. I like the aggressiveness in Saber fencing. I don’t like waiting around for too long.

So, I think, without saying one’s better than the other, sometimes maybe it’s just a personality fit where certain individuals fit better into certain categories.

Alison: And I think he’s the best. I have to tell you that better people are saber fighters.

Jill: You know, that’s, that’s fair. so how do you train for that explosiveness and that aggressiveness?

Eli Dershwitz: I would say like the, the footwork aspect is very similar to how tennis players, train from their split stance versus our on guard. It’s slightly different because they’re accelerating in multi directions. , we only accelerate forward and backwards in two directions, but. The quick first, second, and third step from standing to super fast being able to decelerate after one step change directions quickly is very important for us and that kind of, being nimble, but explosive and being powerful, but flexible and having mobility, but also being able to like charge forward is like trying to find the middle ground between all of these athletic attributes that kind of in the middle, um, Kind of get the best of both worlds.

Alison: Okay, you said the magic word, flexible.

Eli Dershwitz: Yep.

Alison: Hard for men to be flexible.

Eli Dershwitz: I can do a split.

Jill: Wait, what? How, wait, so how did you, how long did that take to develop? Are you naturally flexible?

Eli Dershwitz: I’m not. In high school I couldn’t even touch my toes.

Jill: So what’d you do?

Eli Dershwitz: It honestly was like just the inner competitiveness in me.

One of my teammates at the club started stretching a split every day at practice for a few months and he got like really close. And then just started flexing on everyone, being like, I’m better than you. I’m more flexible than you. And I was like, this is not going to fly. Like I’m stretching my hamstrings every day.

I’m stretching my hips every day. I’m going to slowly get into that split. And then honestly, once I got it, like I never lost it. I don’t even stretch it that much anymore. I can only do it on my fencing side, left foot forward, right foot back. I can’t do the middle split or the right side split, because that’s not functional for fencing.

Jill: For cross training, um, I would say

Eli Dershwitz: like out of season, a lot of hiking, swimming, and tennis, [00:42:00] um, are like my main go tos. In season, I do a lot of like interval sprints, a lot of jumping, single leg, uh, explosiveness, strength training, , just kind of worked a good system out with my trainer over the years where we have a good feeling of what I need to do to become prepared for generating power and speed in the tournament, but also protecting my body, my back, my knee, my, my ankle, the things that experience a lot of stress from long lunging, and just making sure that I’m balancing out like those two aspects.

Jill: Like, what’s the balance? Because you’ve got one leg that lunges and the other leg doesn’t necessarily, so what do you need to maintain balance within your body?

Eli Dershwitz: Uh, it’s definitely single leg exercises. You know, obviously being a lefty, my left foot, my left leg is much stronger than my right leg, but If you do single leg split squats, left leg and right leg, it might be easier on the left side, but your right side will catch up.

And like the gap will close if you spend enough time doing those isometric, um, strength training. and they’re also a little bit easier on the body, , in terms of like long term impact on the lower back from like heavy strength training. So. I think that’s a good system for me.

Alison: What are the advantages of being a left handed fencer?

Eli Dershwitz: I think at a young age, the advantage is that a lot of people have never practiced or competed against a lefty. Uh, I think once you get to age 14, 15 in our sport, most clubs have a few lefties. You fence against them a few times in practice, in tournaments, it starts to feel natural. You just kind of develop a feeling for how you should be, hitting lefty versus righty, so.

I think once you get past age 16, there’s no advantage.

Jill: So, the U. S. has had a lot of success in fencing in the global stage. A

Alison: lot of Eli’s success. Yes,

Jill: and how is that changing the perception of the U. S. or other countries in the world?

Eli Dershwitz: I think it’s interesting because we have a very unique, , system and circuit in the U. S. that’s different from every other country on earth. Pretty much every other country that fences at a high level. After high [00:44:00] school, the top athletes go to an Olympic training center that’s funded by the government. The national coach is funded by the government. The training is funded by the government.

And the athletes are subsidized for strength training, medical help, rehab, nutrition, you know, sports psych. All those things in the US it’s a private club system, almost always before and after, the college circuit is the NCA circuit, and so we need to find different ways of, you know, supporting ourselves of finding access to high level training.

But it also opens the room to have these like knacks and national tournaments in the US where you have thousands and thousands of kids competing. And when you have numbers that great, all it takes is a few good coaches to produce a few champions and just, you know, as the sport keeps growing in the US I’m hopeful that those numbers will keep growing and we’ll just have a few more people sticking through it after college and just trying to make a, a quest for a successful with the career career.

Jill: Have you seen. Since, in, in the time that you’ve been fencing this sport, are you, especially with the U. S., getting more successful?

Eli Dershwitz: Yeah, absolutely. Um, if you look at a national competition today, like, honestly, the best Y 12 fencer in the country right now would have creamed me when I was Y 14. The level that, that the young kids are, are fencing in is, is crazy, and I’m a pretty proud person, but, the top, high schoolers in the country now, they’re significantly better than I was in high school.

It’s just At a young age, kids have access to better training, there’s more coaches, there’s more clubs, there’s a more structured, competitive environment, and it’s just made, both in the U. S. and globally, the, the level raised earlier, and then, you know, they start progressing earlier, they start training at a high level earlier, and just, everything after that is just becomes pretty exceptional.

Alison: Are we developing our own system of training coaches or or most coaches still coming from overseas?

Eli Dershwitz: Most conscious still coming from overseas I mean, I don’t know actually about the true number. Most of the elite [00:46:00] coaches are still Coming from overseas, but you’re starting to see a few more high level American coaches.

That wasn’t the case a few years ago but that’s truly what makes the US fencing like kind of A little bit unbeatable in some regards. Most other countries have a system where like the culture and the country’s history affect their style and all the coaches pretty much coach along the same lines with slight variations.

In the U. S. there’s coaches from every country on Earth, all with different systems that they were brought up in. So you have clubs and producing kids that are fencing at a high level but completely different from each other. So, if I go to a World Cup and I compete against the Germans, if I figure out how to beat one of the Germans, I can probably beat most of the Germans, you know?

They’re very strong and they’re very athletic, right? But they compete with a strategy that is very continuous throughout the country. In the U. S., if you take the top 12 people in one of the age groups, Two of them have a Chinese coach, one of them has a Japanese coach, one has a French coach, one has a German coach, one has a Hungarian coach, one has a Mexican coach, one has a Canadian coach, and all of them grew up in their own countries with their own systems and they teach that to all those kids.

How can someone, from another part of the world go up against that team of such a different variable, uh, fencer and figure out how to beat all of them? It’s, it’s kind of mind boggling that, you know, that system really produces a lot of variety and I think that’s pretty exceptional about USA Fencing.

Jill: As you’ve gone through coaches, have you met different styles?

Eli Dershwitz: Yeah, my first coach was Serbian. My second coach was Polish from Poland. My current coach is Polish American, but grew up in the U. S. with a Ukrainian coach. Um, so, there’s definitely A wide variety of technical and tactical assumptions and strategies that they employ. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to be a little bit more flexible and taking different aspects of coaching and advice from different people, morphing into my own personal game. , but definitely it’s a, it’s a worldly sport in that regard.

Alison: When you’re on the national [00:48:00] team, does that then make it a little more difficult to gel together when you’ve got this very different foundation?

Eli Dershwitz: Uh, I don’t think so. Most of us have known each other for several years competing in the college circuit, competing on the national team together. We’ve traveled together. We’ve grown bread together. We’ve. So there’s a tight knit community, and I think it’s actually a plus that we get to train with each other every day, and all of them fence differently, so we’re getting exposure to what the equivalent would be of fencing with several different national teams from different countries, whereas most national teams only training with their own country with one style have a very system.

We got a little bit more experimentation with, with our level of training.

Jill: What changes have you seen, especially when you talked about kids growing up and learning faster and mastering things faster? Are they changing the game? Are you seeing changes in the game that you have to adapt?

Eli Dershwitz: I would see, say that athleticism has become a much more important role in youth and mid adolescent High level performance in the past.

Very few people pre college NCA fencing had access to professional strength training, professional rehab, sports med, and you know, just mobility training. Now you’re seeing high schoolers and middle schoolers on a pretty regular basis to high level strength training, working on their mobility. They’re working on their flexibility.

They’re working on their injury prevention. And when you got people specializing and training at a higher level at a younger age, you just see a kind of an explosion in athletic ability all around. And when everyone’s really fast and really mobile and stuff, then, certain little details start to matter a little bit more in terms of your strategy and your trickery and creativity in the game, but I would definitely say the athleticism has blown up the last

10 years. I used to watch a lot more, like, I was like watching video all the time, all the time, all the time. Now, [00:50:00] after competing and training with a lot of the top guys for over 10 years, I have a very good understanding of how they operate, how they think, how they move. So I might watch a little bit less video, kind of just to see like, In one moment of time, how are they kind of acting?

Are they kind of moving in one direction and moving in another direction? But for the most part, I would say my video analysis has dropped down in duration a little bit, uh, the last few years. The analysis, I think, has gotten more complex, but I think once you know people really well, you don’t need to watch videos to see, you know, how they operate.

You’re just trying to look for little details in their game.

Alison: How cool is the menu for Paris?

Eli Dershwitz: It’s amazing. I’ve been in the Grand Palais one time for the 125th, , FIE anniversary in 2018. The room is beautiful. It’s historical. I’m happy my family and friends and girlfriend and loved ones are going to be there supporting me and, you know, couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to compete at the Olympic games than the, than the grand palace.

I mean,

Alison: fencing in Paris, come on.

Eli Dershwitz: Yeah.

Alison: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. for the extra couple of

Filip Dolgeiewicz

Filip Dolgeiewicz: My name is Philip Dolovich.

Alison: Whys Saber?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: I think it’s the most fun weapon defense. . It’s the one that I started when I was eight or nine years old and, uh, it’s the fastest weapon and requires the most athleticism, in my opinion, of course.

Alison: Now you have a family connection to fencing or to the Olympics?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: both actually. Yeah. my connection to the Olympics is that my, My great uncle was an Olympic silver medalist in judo. and my, my family connection to fencing is that my older brother was the one who started fencing first. And I sort of took on the sport after him.

Alison: So you’re the younger brother.

Filip Dolgeiewicz: Right.

Alison: Did you ever use this to your advantage with your older brother?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: We would have crazy matches between us at practice. Sometimes like the entire fencing club would stop whatever they were doing and just [00:52:00] watch me and my brother go at it against each other. And it would just get like super intense. We would like yell at each other, like hit each other extremely hard. And like. It was extremely competitive between the two of us.

but then once we got home, everything was fine.

Alison: So American, uh, men’s Sabre has seen a lot of success. Eli’s done very well. The team has done very well. Is that pressure or is that confidence?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: I think it’s definitely confidence. Eli doing well, has inspired like so many people in the U S , to do the same thing.

And then when Colin came and started meddling at World Cups, it also showed that, that other people could do it, uh, in the U. S. I meddled in, Korea a couple weeks ago. And now, this past weekend, Will Morrill, he meddled in, uh, Madrid. So, the status of men’s sabre in, in the U. S. is pretty good. Just keeps getting better and better.

Alison: We handicapped the women’s Sabre. So let’s handicap the men’s Sabre tournament in Paris. Who besides the American men should we be paying attention to?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: Right. I think in, in men’s sabre, some of the strongest teams are definitely Korea. , and Hungary has a really good team. France has a really good team and they’re going to be competing in, uh, at home in Paris. Uh, so that should be very interesting to watch.

Alison: You’ve got a whole, an all crimson team here for sabre. Does that. Help since you’re kind of pulling fencers from different places and also in terms of your styles.

Filip Dolgeiewicz: I think it definitely helps the team chemistry a little bit just because Mitchell and I, went, went to school together. Eli was the assistant coach there.

Um, so we’ve been together for like four years and Eli really helped us, become the fencers that we are today. and then I think it also helps with, Colin, becoming an incoming freshman at Harvard this year. we’re extremely excited for him to share that experience with us.

Alison: How does the strategy planning work for [00:54:00] you? How much of a plan do you go in with for each bout? Yeah.

Filip Dolgeiewicz: For each bout, I usually have a general idea of what I want to do. most of the time, I just, try to fence the best that I can and just be myself on the strip. in between points, I also, try to have a plan, a backup plan, a backup backup plan.

Like, It just depends. It depends on the situation. Sometimes I’m just in complete flow and just don’t even have to think about it.

Alison: How much thinking are you doing on, on the strip? Is it better not to think and to just react?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: Right. I think it really depends. The best way for me to fence is to really just get into the zone where I’m thinking about every single touch, but I don’t really like, I’m just so into the game that like, I’m not really consciously thinking about like, what decisions I have to make.

I’m just like, doing that subconsciously.

Alison: What’s your favorite action?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: My favorite action is definitely pulling distance in the middle of the strip.

Alison: Okay, now what does that mean for those of us who are not Fencers,

Filip Dolgeiewicz: right? Fencers. so that means , going in, the referee says ready fence, both fencers are going into the middle, running at each other, sometimes as fast as they can, and what I like to do is go into the middle and pretend like I’m gonna try to hit them and finish in the middle, and then I quickly jump out, take as many steps out as possible, and make the opponent miss, and then take over on a long attack.

Alison: What’s your favorite action? for the other fencer to do to counter attack for.

Filip Dolgeiewicz: What is my favorite action?

Alison: Like when they come at you doing something, you’re like, I am going to get this point.

Filip Dolgeiewicz: I think if the other fencer does like a super fast advanced lunge off the line, that’s probably my favorite.

, just because if I see that coming at me, I’ll just step out and make them miss.

Alison: What will success look like for you in Paris?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: success for our team in Paris would definitely be coming [00:56:00] home with a medal.

Alison: That’s a lot of pressure. Is it pressure or is it motivation?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: It’s definitely motivation. we’re super excited, to compete at the games and just give it 100%, try to lock in as best as possible and, continue. the level that we’ve been fencing at all season and really just have fun and support each other on the strip at all times.

Alison: What have I not asked about Sabre that you want people who haven’t watched fencing before to know about Sabre?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: I would say that if you’ve never watched Sabre fencing before, the most basic thing you need to know is that there is a right of way. So basically if one person is going forwards and one person is going backwards, if both people hit each other at the same time, Then the person who’s going forward will score the point. And that’s just the most basic like rule of the sport. And if you don’t know that it’s, it’s very confusing to watch.

Alison: I’m so glad you mentioned that because my co host is always asking about, is always thinking about right of way. So say it, say that again for me, cause I want to make sure I get it right. So if both of you hit at the same time, if someone is moving forward, they have the point as opposed to the person who’s moving backward.

Filip Dolgeiewicz: Right. Yeah. So basically. Both fencers start on the on guard lines, in the middle of the strip, and the ref says, Ready, fence. And if both people do the exact same thing, going forward and hitting each other at the exact same time, it’s nobody’s point. Nobody had the right of way. But as soon as one fencer starts to move backwards, then the person who is tracking them down, attacking them moving forwards, if they both hit each other at that time, it’s nobody’s point.

It’s the person who is going forward’s point. But it’s also confusing because if you’re going forward and you swing and you miss, then you lose the right of way and the person who dodged the hit or parries the hit then [00:58:00] gains the right of way and then when they hit they can score the point. So it’s, it’s, pretty confusing but it takes, it just takes a few minutes to, get used to.

Alison: Is there any other pieces of right of way that we didn’t hit?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: Yeah, so the ways that right of way can transfer are you can miss, you can get parried, or someone, if you’re attacking someone and they beat your blade out of the way, then right of way also changes.

Alison: So beat your blade is physically blade to blade?

Filip Dolgeiewicz: Blade to blade, yeah. If you, if you hit someone’s blade while they’re attacking you, you can take over the right of way.

Alison: You have made Jill so happy, and you didn’t even have to meet her. But great. Thank you so much, Philip.

Colin Heathcock

Colin Heathcock: Hi, my name is Colin Heath Cock.

Alison: Are you missing your high school graduation?

Colin Heathcock: Uh, yes I am.

Alison: See now the mom and me comes out and goes, so how is that balance between Was this your first, , season on the senior level?

Colin Heathcock: No, I believe this is my third.

Alison: Third year. Okay, so you were really young , when you moved up. And being 18, talk a little bit about you’re going to high school, you’re finishing high school, and you’re heading to the Olympics.

Colin Heathcock: Well, it was definitely a hard thing to balance at first. Yeah. , pretty much I just try to find a schedule for me, because training, normally our training ends in the afternoon, and after that, I just try to get as much work done as possible, and I just try to go by the schedule, like every single day, so I can be productive.

Alison: Why Saber?

Colin Heathcock: for me, I don’t have that much patience, I always like to rush, and the other weapons just took, took too much out of me, and I just wanted to do something fast and quick, and that’s what I fixate.

Alison: Eli said the same thing, by the way, that he like, he doesn’t have the patience. So how is it being with your teammates and this new team, this all Crimson team now since you’ll be heading to Harvard?

Colin Heathcock: Definitely amazing. , Phillip and Mitchell, they’re really funny people. I think we’re like still pretty unexperienced for the Olympic level because Eli. I believe he’s the only one on the team that has been to a previous Olympic Games. And he has been really helpful as a team leader, kind of always holding the torch up.

And obviously not every day, [01:00:00] not every tournament we could be strong, we can be at our best. And he’s always there to keep us stable and keep us in the game.

Alison: So he’s going to be your coach next year. Yes. Is he still coaching at Harvard at all?

Colin Heathcock: I’m not sure what his plan is next year, but I know that he coached before at Harvard.

Alison: What are you looking forward to in terms of going to collegiate fencing?

Colin Heathcock: I guess balancing and seeing what fencing is like at college because I know I’ve been told it’s definitely a different experience. So only fencing at the senior professional level and to be doing college and the senior. So I’m just looking forward to doing that.

Alison: How much prep are you doing against opponents watching video, seeing their style?

Colin Heathcock: Actually, before, like, when I was a little bit younger, I would watch a lot of video. Every single day, I would just watch pretty much the best fencers fencing and trying to learn as much as possible. But I think these days that because there’s already so many things going on, we have so many competitions that are happening, I’m more, more calm, more just trying to do my own fencing than to watch other people fence.

Alison: Do you think of yourself as defensive or offensive kind of fencer?

Colin Heathcock: Offensive. Kind of both, but more offensive, I think.

Alison: Okay, so what, I love asking this question. What’s your favorite action?

Colin Heathcock: Probably either parry, riposte, or reprise attack.

Alison: Okay, explain what those are.

Colin Heathcock: Parry post is when the opponent comes in early with the blade and tries to hit you, but you use your own blade to block that and to hit the opponent back.

That’s a parry post. And reprise is kind of when we both stop, when we both do our preparation in the middle, we both stop there and I take over first. That’s what a reprise is.

Alison: When you’re going into a team competition, how much is it you’re fencing your bouts and not really paying attention to what your teammates are doing. Or is there more strategy going on together as a team?

Colin Heathcock: I feel it’s definitely a together experience. It’s definitely, we build off of each other. everybody’s [01:02:00] match is dependent on another because if you have a good match, you’re going in hot, you’re destroying the other person. That gives motivation to the rest of the team and they’re more likely to do well also.

Alison: What makes you nervous about going into Paris? Because you are the youngest member of this team. And how are you kind of managing that being in this very adult world and situation?

Colin Heathcock: For me, I’ve always been nervous at every single competition I’ve ever done. Um, especially in the senior ones. I think I’m becoming more and more nervous, honestly.

And I just try to, I just try to give it my all. One of my I guess like, teammates and mentors at the club I’m training at. He always told me to fence, don’t fence against the nervous feeling, fence along with it. And I’ve been just trying to do that for a while now.

Alison: What does that mean?

Colin Heathcock: Because if you fence against a nervous feeling, you’re gonna keep telling yourself that, okay, don’t be nervous, don’t be nervous, don’t be nervous, and that in turn will just make you be more nervous, and like, maybe you lose a touch, you’ll just be more upset with yourself.

And it’s better to accept that everyone’s nervous. You’re nervous as well. And just to go along with that feeling and just try to do the best you can.

Alison: How much coaching are you getting during any bout?

Colin Heathcock: Normally, well, funny enough, I don’t really listen to my coach that much when I’m fencing, but definitely during the one minute break is where most information gets shared.

Alison: Why don’t you listen? Young man.

Colin Heathcock: I feel like. Maybe I listened when I was a little bit younger, but I feel like now I’ve been, I always have like an idea of what I should do next. And even if my coach tells me, okay, do this other thing. If I believe that I’m right, I’m just going to do my own thing.

Alison: How much thinking are you doing on the strip?

Colin Heathcock: Not that much. I think at least, I think everyone’s best fencing comes when their mind is blank and they don’t even know what they’re doing themselves and the actions are just coming out of them really naturally.

Alison: And we talked a little bit about strategy. How much are you changing strategies [01:04:00] mid bout?

Colin Heathcock: I would say definitely in the senior circuit, a lot because against really experienced fencers, they understand what you’re doing, like after one or two touches.

So they’re already adjusting to you, like snap of a finger. They’re already adjusted to you and you will have to switch your fencing style just to be. back on level with them.

Alison: How do you keep yourself from not being starstruck and seeing some of those? I mean, because you are a young fencer and seeing some of these heroes probably for you.

Colin Heathcock: I mean, I definitely like fencing. Some of the people I’ve looked up to my whole life was definitely a big moment for me, but I just try. My goal is just to give my everything into the match and just to try my best. And that’s all I try to focus to do.

Alison: When you’re explaining fencing to people who haven’t watched it. What’s your elevator pitch to get them to come and watch?

Colin Heathcock: I mean, I think the problem, I guess, with the viewership or popularity of fencing is it’s kind of hard to understand. but if you really like seeing cool stuff being done with blades or like medieval swords, then I would recommend fencing. And also if you like fast action, then definitely give Saber a watch.

Alison: Are you an equipment guy? Do you like playing with pieces of equipment to try?

Colin Heathcock: no, no, not really.

Alison: when it comes to equipment, are you one of these like, don’t, so you’re a, don’t touch anything. I’ve been using the same thing forever, but you’re only 18. So your body has changed. So how do you balance that? I need the familiarity. And yet obviously my needs have changed.

Colin Heathcock: I believe. The familiarity is from my mental side, not my physical side. So, I’m more of a guy like, Hey, if this thing has been working for a while, don’t touch it. So, I’m like really superstitious during tournaments. So, I really don’t like other people touching my stuff or moving it out of place.

Alison: Okay, tell me your superstitions. I love athlete superstitions.

Colin Heathcock: I’ve got like too many [01:06:00] superstitions, like I have to wake up, brush my teeth, look at myself in the mirror, take a certain amount of steps like outside of the hotel room and even in the competition venue. It’s just a lot of that.

Alison: What do you do to keep your head in it when it’s a world championship, , and getting now you’re going to be going to the first Olympics?

Colin Heathcock: Just one touch at a time. Just think about, don’t think about what’s going to happen in the future. I often tell myself that it’s not a big deal if you lose. It’s not the end of the world.

You will keep going and just, just give it your all. Then you have nothing to be sad for if something happens.

Alison: Now, in the notes, they’re saying you’re in France and in the US. So how does that work? What is that balance?

Colin Heathcock: So representing, I’m obviously representing team USA, but I am training in France and have been for, I believe the last four to five years.

So when I go to tournaments, obviously I see all the USA fencers and I’m with them a lot, but outside of tournaments, I’m usually just training back in France.

Alison: So how does the French system differ from what you’re exposed to here in the U. S.?

Colin Heathcock: , I think the French system is a lot more like family. Like we wake up every day, we see each other first thing in the morning and we’re with each other for five, six, seven hours per day.

And we do this every single day. Like I wouldn’t consider my teammates friends. I think I would consider them like family members at this point because I probably see them more than my actual family members.

Alison: What success going to look like to you in Paris?

Colin Heathcock: I feel like the goal obviously for everyone is the gold medal to at least to get a medal in the Olympic Games. But for me, I think metal aside is just to give it my all and to pour everything into each match that I’m fencing and to just prove to myself what I’m capable of doing.

Alison: Perfect, great.

Mitchell Saron

Mitchell Saron: Mitchell Saron.

Alison: Why Saber?

Mitchell Saron: Why Saber? Saber is the most like actual lightsabers in Star [01:08:00] Wars.

Alison: So I saw that Star Wars reference. What color is your lightsaber?

Mitchell Saron: , I definitely would have said, , maybe blue in the past, but definitely this year I’m going to go for green.

Okay. More meditative like Yoda. Yeah.

Alison: I’m curious about the all crimson team.

Mitchell Saron: Yeah.

Alison: You’re all Harvard. I mean, Collins coming in. How has that helped the team dynamic?

Mitchell Saron: Yeah, I mean, it has taken us very far. The fact that how well the team chemistry is, I still cannot believe it’s a full crimson team, which is awesome.

but, you know, I think the biggest thing in team fencing is how well, , everyone can work together. And there’s a lot of teams with a lot of talent. But sometimes it doesn’t click on the international circuit because there’s not that gel together. But luckily for us, we have a lot of talent and the four of us work really well together.

And it’s been a pleasure being able to travel with these guys last year.

Alison: How is Eli switching from coach to teammate?

Mitchell Saron: It’s definitely a weird dynamic. It definitely was a weird dynamic at Harvard as well, because when he was mean Phillips coach at Harvard, he was also our friend. And, uh, when I traveled to Senior World Cups, he became my teammate for a bit, and then we’d have to go back to campus, and then he’d be my coach again.

Uh, so there was definitely this line that I sometimes would cross, and he didn’t appreciate it as much, because he was my teammate, so I could maybe, uh, talk to him a little differently. But, um, even now on the team, I, the three of us, me, Colin, and Phillip, still very much look at him. And, because he, he is our, team captain, even though that’s not an actual role.

But, he’s definitely a mentor for all of us. So, yeah.

Alison: I want to talk a little bit about equipment. And in terms of, of the Sabre itself. When I say why Sabre, like, why is that weapon different as a weapon?

Mitchell Saron: Yeah, I mean, so for foil and epee, you have to poke for your light to actually register, to actually receive a touch or give a touch.

so the only thing that works is the tip, essentially. But with Sabre, the whole blade is conductive. So, I can slash. I can hit with the [01:10:00] tip of the blade, I can hit with the bottom of the blade, and it’s waist up, so you can slash to the head, the arm, the chest, the back, so it’s

Alison: Does that significantly change the feel of the sabre, of the weapon when it’s a full Mm hmm.

You know, it’s like Yeah, I mean, sabre’s definitely,

Mitchell Saron: it’s medium weight, so it’s in between full and half in terms of how heavy it is. Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s definitely a lot of different muscle memory, that we’re learning compared to like foil in that way.

Alison: What are you most excited for for Paris? The competition itself?

Mitchell Saron: I’m very excited to feel how much pressure that’s going to be. Eli says it’s it’s nuts. I’m trying to, you know, frame it in a way that it’s not going to mess with me. I’m very interested and excited to see, you know, the night before, you know, if I’m not going to be able to sleep, like how much, how scared or how nervous or how excited I’m going to be, , the night before.

Alison: Do nerves affect you when you compete?

Mitchell Saron: Yeah. I mean, they affect everyone, but it’s just how you, how you frame it. You know, are you going to tell yourself this is going to tighten me up? Or are you going to be, you know, there’s nothing I can do about these. Like let me let them excite me.

Alison: What’s your favorite action?

Mitchell Saron: Favorite action, counter error post.

Alison: Thanks so much.

Enjoy the rest of the day.

Jill: Thank you so much. We will have links to everybody’s social in the show notes, so be sure to follow them and follow fencing at the Olympics.

Updated Olympics and Paralympics Viewing Guide Available!

Alison: So you know what I’ve been doing today? Bye. What? I have been putting updates for the book. We’ve got 3×3 schedules. We’ve got the volleyball draw this morning. And unfortunately, they keep putting the schedules out with just flags. So our ebook will save you. From trying to figure out which is Serbia, which is Azerbaijan, which is Croatia, which apparently I am struggling with, but all the updates are going into the ebook.

It’s the guide for both the Olympics and the Paralympics. All the scheduling, days, times, locations. So whether you’re at home or in Paris, this will be nice [01:12:00] and handy for you and explanations of all the new sports. explanations of some cool things about the venues. So there’s a lot of things going on in the guide.

It’s available on both Amazon and Apple books, and we will have links to that in the show notes or on our homepage, flamealivepod. com. There’s a cute, cute little graphic you can click on. And,

Jill: you know, if you are looking for a flag book, you can go through bookshop. org slash shop, , slash flame live pod and get the flag book that I enjoy and kind of peruse on a daily basis in my preparations.

Alison: But you don’t have to worry about getting a separate book for the country codes because our e guide does have the country codes. And let me tell you, when you get into L’s and M’s, those country codes are not what you think they are. Cause there are a lot of L and M countries. So check it out. And as we mentioned before, if you are, have Kindle unlimited guides available for free for you.

I had nothing else planned. I forgot what we, that we do a Paris segment and then I have to speak French. So uh,

Jill: well, the team USA will be prepare in their new kit. Uh, Oh, if they could see your look, uh, Team USA has released its Opening and Closing Ceremonies Kit by Ralph Lauren. As per use lately, uh, it is very Ralph Lauren.

Uh, would you like to, would you care to describe it? We’re a

Alison: PG rated show, Jill. I don’t know if I can describe it without using bad language, but I will try. So the Opening Ceremony, , outfit is jeans, , a navy blue blazer with Some funky trim, a striped dress shirt, and for the men, they get a knit tie.

And then the [01:14:00] closing ceremony outfit is all white. I can’t tell the fabric. It photographs oddly, so you’ve got white pants, and then a white puffy jacket with USA scrawled across the front of it.

Jill: Okay, so to me, the closing ceremony’s uniform looks denim ish. It also looks very NASCAR. I immediately thought racing, car auto racing when I saw this.

Alison: If you are on social media at all, everyone is saying, when did NASCAR become an Olympic event? That is everyone’s reaction to that closing ceremony outfit. The second reaction I have seen is these poor kids are going to melt in that closing ceremony outfit because it’s a long sleeve jacket, long pants.

It’s heavy, it is heavy

Jill: looking. It is heavy looking and the front of it is, and it’s got a very high collar that buttons up. I’ve got a couple buttons at the top of the collar. It looks a little, members only ish, but like members only slash NASCAR because it’s got big USA across the front horizontally and, that’s on a Navy blue background and a red stripe above and a.

Flag color blue stripe below but the other element that makes it look Nascar Is that there’s

Alison: a bunch of patches on there, right? So they have the US sort of a US OPC patch an American flag They have the Ralph Lauren logo and it is like how the Nascar suits have the patches all over them Mm hmm. I, I would, and I’ll check with some of our people who did the modeling.

Is this actually hotter or not as hot as it looks?

Jill: Right. And then the, the pants are white with it says Team USA down one thigh. And I gotta tell you, again, with the white pants.

Alison: Never a good choice.

Jill: No. But it, I, I think the closing uniform looks kind of cool. Yeah. Cool. It just does look incredibly hot and it just looks inappropriate for the weather

Alison: that they’re going to have and it looks inappropriate for [01:16:00] summer.

Yeah, we joked about, , the French team and their sleeveless suits, but at least that looked weather appropriate. I take back, France, I am so sorry. I take back everything you said because at least you weren’t trying to give your athletes heat stroke. I mean, the opening ceremony outfit is not much better.

It is jeans, a long sleeve dress shirt, and a blazer, and a tie.

Jill: Yes, well, that’s hot. And I get that you want to dress up. I don’t even know where to begin on this. A, there’s a lot of conversation going on in our Facebook group if you have not been there yet.

We had a comment on the fact that the Ralph Lauren logo is bigger than the USA flag, which I thought that was very interesting,

Alison: very astute. And a lot of people said the top doesn’t match the bottom. I, one, someone in our Facebook group, and this was the best comment, said it looks like somebody dressed up for a Zoom meeting and they got all business on top and casual at the bottom because it’s not even dressy jeans.

It’s very loose fitting, slightly ankle length, , very pale wash. Yeah, and it really

Jill: doesn’t, and that, that pale wash just doesn’t go with the navy blue with the blazer. You know, I can get behind, you know, time and place, or we want to make it look patriotic with the ribbon around the trim of the suit and the trim of the pockets.

It’s red, white, and blue. That’s the best part. Yes, yes, exactly. And I don’t mind the button down shirt, which is nice. Blue and white stripe. The tie, apparently, there were some comments on why is the tie not tied very well, because apparently it’s a knit tie, and I just went, oh my gosh, we’re bringing that back.

Alison: Your teacher from A. V. in 1983 wants this tie back.

Jill: That is exactly what I thought. I thought of my fifth grade teacher and those ties, and they don’t work.

Alison: They don’t work for anybody. And what’s most disappointing to me is we saw that pop up shop. At the Team USA media summit from Polo and Ralph Lauren, and they had some [01:18:00] beautiful pieces in there that would have been so classy and so practical and really pop on television.

I mean, we posted the pictures of them and then they came out with this. So it’s not that Ralph Lauren isn’t capable of creating something that isn’t a little progressive yet calling back to history because it is like, I really think Team USA just needs a new provider. Because we’re just getting the same thing recycled over and over and over again.

And I understand many different bodies, many different, sizes, many different shapes and you want to accommodate and then you don’t want the men’s uniform to be too different from the women’s because if people aren’t comfortable being too one or the other. But this was just, this was just a fail all the way around.

Jill: Yeah. And the, the business on top casual on the bottom really doesn’t look good. Right together and it’s not seeing this on TV or maybe because you’re on a boat Nobody will notice but it’s just the models at least look kind of happy about it

Alison: Lithuania I am counting on you Wasn’t it Lithuania who had this fantastic

Jill: Yeah, the shiny dresses the

Alison: shiny dresses from Tokyo.

I am counting 3×3 team is gonna be there. Just please Save me Right. And you know, we also have Haiti to save us. Oh, yes. A lot of the islands, Jamaica usually does very well, Haiti, , some of the small islands, but then again, they only have like two or three people they have to dress so they can get away with some things.

But yes, a few of the African countries will come with some traditional elements, which is always fun and colorful and also very practical for the insane heat we’re probably going to be dealing with that night. Exactly. Okay. So, swim trials.

US Swimming Olympic Trials

Jill: On a happier note, speaking of Team USA, Oh my gosh. So we talked on Monday, and Monday night, We have the [01:20:00] championships of the women’s 400 meter individual medley, which Katie Grimes won in 435. It was great. And Emma Weigert finished, just behind her, just almost a second behind her,

Men’s 200 meter freestyle, Luke Hobson won. And then of course you had the whole free relay in that, who gets chosen.

So that was, uh, Luke Hobson, Chris Giuliano, Drew Kibler, and Kieran Smith. And I got to sit in their press conference a little bit. They are so excited. They know each other really well. Kieran Smith was from Connecticut. Be proud. He just came across so well and such, excitement about being on a team.

He’s like, I do better in relays than I do in individual events. And, they were really happy to be doing this together. And that’s really exciting to see. , Ryan Murphy made his third Olympics in the backstroke he won the a hundred meter backstroke with a time of 52, 22. and then we also had, , semifinals of, The women’s 100 meter backstroke where Reagan Smith got an American record in the semifinals.

and we also had the championships of the women’s 100 meter breaststroke, which cause you wondered how loud it was. And I sent you some audio. I just took audio of that race because the Lilly King was in it and Lilly King was She’s a local. She’s a favorite. Yes. Local.

Favorite. So many people out here to see her. So excited to see her race. She got first. Emma Weber got second. And our Lydia Jacoby got third. She was 67 seconds behind. That was really sad to see, to be quite honest. , she looked good going into the race. And I figured out, cause last time I told you that they look slower in person, I think it’s cause where I’m sitting. Because I only see them going out and coming back and it [01:22:00] just looks like it’s taking forever for them to get to the edge of the pool, the far end of the pool, and forever for them to come back.

But I’m learning to watch both the pool and the Jumbotron, so that the Jumbotron is showing you the side angle that the audience sees. And that’s when you can tell where they’re faster, that’s where you can tell who is ahead, Unless you’re Katie Ledecky in the 1500, where you have no problem.

unless you’re like, how many

Alison: laps is she ahead? We’ll get to that.

Jill: It was really tough to see Lydia get third. A lot of people were really feeling for her. Yesterday, Tuesday, she announced on Instagram, she was scratching from the 200 meter breast. She actually came down to the mixed zone yesterday.

did, five, 10 minutes with the media and I’m going to pull some more stuff from that, but she said that she, , the 200 meters, she just. entered for fun. It’s not really her race. And she was going to see how she felt when she was here. Maybe she’d do it. Maybe she didn’t. And she said, look, you know, yeah, I could swim it, but it’s not my best.

Let me give somebody else a chance. You know, let me not take that place away from somebody else who could get into the semis, who could get into the championships. So, , that was really, thoughtful of her. I thought, she’s obviously processing a lot of stuff and that was, it’s interesting to see her work on processing it.

She honestly, she’s like, I don’t, don’t know if I can watch when it’s time to watch for Paris. she just says, I got a, I got a lot to process. I don’t know how long it’ll take and it’ll take, it’s going to take time.

Alison: Did she say anything about not feeling good, being hurt, being like, that’s something.

No, it just, it wasn’t her day.

Jill: No, it just turned out, it seems like it wasn’t her day. I’ll have to go back to the tape and watch it. But, I thought it was just really classy for her to come to the mix zone and make [01:24:00] some time for the media because, that was a really tough day.

Who else came down to the mix zone yesterday, which was, , a little bit of a surprise.

was Kelsey Dahlia, Kelsey Worrell Dahlia. Kelsey had been at Rio 2016. And then she did not qualify for Tokyo 2020. She’s now coaching. She coaches at Notre Dame right now, but, she came through and I got to ask her what it was like to process that, process that emotion of not being able to go to the next Olympics. And people were asking kind of what it was like to be here. And. She’s still working through that.

Like you could tell that it was still tough to be here. She said that, okay, it was tough not to go to Tokyo, but she did some other stuff. Like they did some volunteer work and, did other trips to take her mind off in a way with her family. But , you could tell just there was still some emotion about being at trials and some emotion still about not having made it the second time.

So, we’ll, try to put some more of that video up. Probably in our group it’s kind of long.

Alison: Yeah, I hope. Lydia was so sweet when we, spoke with her at the Team USA Summit. So poised and articulate and seemed like. She had her head screwed on straight for a 20 year old kid, you know, having become famous very young and kind of exposed and My heart just aches for her.

It really did that was a hard race to watch and that was even before she scratched the 200 and I’m glad that she clearly has got the right support around her and the media was respectful to her and The outpouring of love that I saw on her social media You was fantastic. So send her a note on Instagram and X and just, we love her so much.

And I hope she comes back. I mean, she’s a young, she’s a young swimmer. She’s [01:26:00] still doing a couple more years of college swimming. So LA is not off the table for her.

Jill: Not off the table. There was some hesitation about does she want to keep swimming or not? So, it, I think now, she took some time, I mean, this week is not the week to ask her that question.

No. And, and it’s one of those, I think she took some time off after the, after Tokyo too, and just kind of reassessing what do you want to do and making sure that swimming and being an athlete doesn’t define her life because she knows what kind of, track that can send you down and when you put your whole life and everything you invest into this one thing, it.

when it doesn’t come through for you, you’re just more devastated. So I think she’s working really hard on having other interests, making sure she’s well grounded and it’s really hard to do. It’s really hard not to get sucked into. Swimming is your life, but I think she’s trying to do a good job at that. so that was Monday night. What else did we get? Oh, we also had the two women’s 200 meter freestyle championships, which, also that created a relay. Uh, Katie Ledecky won that also going as part of the relay are Claire Weinstein, Paige Madden and Erin Jamel. Uh, so that was a fun night, of course, the championship ceremony.

Have you seen this championship ceremony yet? No, I haven’t.

Alison: I don’t think they’re airing it on NBC. It must be just on the Peacock feed. Okay. Cause it, it still is.

Jill: It’s strange still because they’re only giving one medal out because only one person gets to go to the Olympics unless it’s for relay, then all four of them come and they are on this platform that rises up from the underneath, underneath the pool deck.

And you’re like, here they come. And they’ve got an Olympian there every, every day. They’ve had more and more Olympians [01:28:00] show up. And. , they do a presentation where they get their medal and flowers and, you know, they have to say, I’m so and so and I’m a 2024 Paris Olympian. I know. And then the, the fascia turns all gold, as I mentioned last time, and you get a little bit of gold reflection on the water and it’s really something.

So that gets you in the feels there. , yesterday was some more preliminaries for events we’ll see tonight. And I thought. My original plan was obvious, was to leave and, , taking a drive to Cincinnati today and it’s only a couple hours away, but I thought, Oh, well I’ll leave after the prelims and we’ll tape and I’ll go.

Alison: And I’m hearing all the audience and listeners screaming at you, chill, you can’t leave.

Jill: Well, I’m staying tonight because we had the women’s 1500 and. I cannot tell you how, again, this was also disproving my, well, swimming looks slow in person. Seeing Katie Ledecky do this race in person makes what she does so much more impressive that it’s very hard to describe, but she, well, okay.

Well, first off we’ve got bells. Yeah. So you sent me a

Alison: photo. It’s a big plastic bin of bells for the, I assume, for the bell lab. Yes,

Jill: for the bell

Alison: lab. It’s just, I would have thought that would have been automated by now, that the bell we’re hearing isn’t really a bell.

No, it’s a giant school bell, like Ma Ingalls rang outside the schoolhouse.

Jill: So I did notice the bin of bells, and I was like, oh my gosh, this is how they bring the bells in. And they had this whole bin set behind, , one of the screen. So all along, there’s like a, a bumper, I would say, but it’s all a digital screen.

So the bin is sitting behind there. They’ve got eight bells in there and they bring them out. Like two people brought them out a couple of bells at a time. And it wasn’t like they brought [01:30:00] the bin and took a bell out and set it down. And very, very precise placement of the bells. On the starting blocks.

Okay. They’ve all got a number in the center of the back of the starting block. So behind, you won’t see it on TV, but there’s a, there’s a lap or a lane assignment number. The bell goes right where that is on the deck. So it is there. Everybody has to get their bell at the same time. So when Katie Ledecky, yes.

Wait, so each lane has its own bell? Yes. Every lane has its own bell. Every lane has its own official. That looks at starts sometimes, and for free they don’t have to look at much, but they’ll come out eventually. but they all have their own bells. And when the first swimmer comes up to do, get the bell lap, they all have to go up for the bell lap.

So, at this point, Katie is a length ahead of most of the field. When Katie finishes, she touches the wall, And then the last person in her heat is doing their flip turn for their bell lap. That is how far ahead Katie Ledecky was., Katie Grimes is also swimming the 1500, but they were in opposite heats. So I really wanted to see the head to head on this one. So I’m staying for tonight. Also tonight, finals of the women’s 100 meter and who, , has the best time is some,

Alison: or does she have the best time?

Jill: Yeah. Simone Manuel has the best time.

Alison: And I mentioned to you before we started recording how Rowdy Gaines, who we all know I adore. And I think most swim fans watching on TV do adore how much he loves swimming and hunting these swimmers. He’s not even pretending. that he doesn’t want Simone Manuel to win that race.

And I think that speaks to one, her talent, two, the struggles that she’s had, and two, and three, just she’s, it seems like a halfway decent person. [01:32:00] She does.

Jill: And the crowd loves her. She’s such a role model to a lot of young swimmers. And I’m rooting for her. I got to say, I’m rooting for her, not can’t not root for her.

And just the fact that she has maintained this level of competition for so long. And even some of these are like three and four time Olympians. You got some of these and yeah, we’re really excited about some of the young swimmers here at the event showing their talent, but by golly, there are some veterans who just And the fact that they can keep doing this and stay at this level with times going down the way they have been is just amazing.

So, I have to be around to watch that

Alison: race. I’m glad, I’m glad you’re staying because I want to hear about what it is like there because it’s been, it’s been fun to watch it on TV. And there was some discussion in the Facebook group that of course during the 800 and the 1500 races that they showed, there was a commercial break.

But. They split screened it. So yes, you did have Martin Short and Steve Martin on one side, but you continued to watch, , the long races that, because what, honestly, it gave the announcers a chance to get a drink. That’s a long race to just keep talking.

Jill: Right. And 800 Meters, Bobby Fink won. So he is, punched his ticket to Paris again.

It looked

Alison: good. Oh, he did look good.

Jill: He looked really good. That was really cool. I, honestly, I don’t know if I’m leaving. Now that we keep talking about this stuff,

Alison: do you have your car? Did you drive down? I drove, yes. Okay, good. So you can sleep in your car if you have to.

Jill: But then I, I was going to leave after the 1500 meter cause then it’s going like, it’d be like nine o’clock by the time I got out of here. but then it’s semis of the 200 meter men’s 200 meter backstroke and women’s 200 meter breaststroke.

Then we had the men’s 200 meter breaststroke and the men’s 100 meter freestyle championships. That’s Caleb Dressel, isn’t it?

Alison: That is Caleb Dressel who [01:34:00] looked really good last night, even though he finished second in his semi. Oh, the

Jill: whole, the whole field was looking good. That’s fine. Yeah, I was going to

Alison: say it was a fast race for a semi.

Jill: Well, I might leave after that. You’re not leaving. You’re not leaving. I’ll leave after the racing. I will not stay or stick around for the ceremonies because I know how those work. Yes, you will. Shut up. You’re not going to be able to

Alison: leave. You’re going to see that golden light and it’s going to call to you and that’ll be the end of it.

Jill: All right. Well, we’ll see. But I’m staying for the night session, folks. Boy, oh boy, went back to the AquaZone.

I was able to do the Try Wheelchair Basketball.

Brian Bell will be so proud of you. I know. Well, it was very exciting because, of course, I’m the one adult in the line of preteens and teenagers. Because I almost looked behind me and went, Mom, are you trying this to one other lady? I should have. But, jumped in, jumped on a chair, , the chairs are very agile. So if you’re not using necessarily two hands, it’s very easy to keep turning around and around. It is also hard. Well, the, the ball could sit in the base by your feet.

But if the ball was sitting in the base by my feet, I couldn’t really bend over and pick it up to kind of like try to whip it back out. But they told you how, you know, if, if you’re getting a ball and you can get it on the side of your wheel, you kind of spider walk it with your fingers. up and that helps you get the ball.

I learned that I need to have the ball in my lap when I’m trying to wheel around. I didn’t even try to dribble because of course there’s like 15 of you on the same little tiny bit of sport court and , did not make a basket. I came really close to making

Alison: a basket,

Jill: but it is really hard. You

Alison: got a shot off.

That is not bad for first time around.

Jill: Got a few shots off. That’s, that’s impressive. Honestly. So that was a ton of fun. Thank you, Toyota, for having this whole setup there. Cause it was fun to see a lot of [01:36:00] people trying this stuff out and, becoming aware of it. And hopefully the Paralympic wheelchair basketball team got a couple more fans to watch.

Went across the street from the AquaZone back to the big block party. Got my picture taken at the Lily tent with a couple of torches. So they had Atlanta in 1996 1984. That was very cool. I did see some more street names. So I did see Gaines and, and some other swimmers. So I’m like, okay, they are, there are more people here than Dana Vollmer and Shirley Babisha.

Which honestly, that in and of itself would have been fine. I’d walk around, I got my picture taken with big goggles.

I after the whole session was over, I went back down to see if the Eiffel Tower that they built here lights up. Not the same quality light show. I will say that it does light up and it’s changing, so I have a little video of that.

Alison: But just that, I’ve been seeing a lot of more, more photos of the outside things on social media and that thing is impressive.

Jill: It’s very impressive that people just welded this together. It was a project and, uh, kind of want to know where it’s going next. Like the Birmingham, uh, Oh, like the Birmingham Bowl. That’s a very good question. Um, maybe I can find out, oh, you know what else was fun last night when I was walking around the stadium, there were a, you can’t believe how many kids are here trying to get autographs.

So it’s like, uh, the, where the athlete entrance is usually a whole bunch of people are waiting for athletes to come out to get stuff autographed, which is really cool. But also, Like teams are here to watch together and last night I saw after the session Like a swim team sitting down and their coach was doing like a debrief with like what what are we seeing?

This is what this is. This is what it takes and it hit me in some feels and then me being me I noticed that the back of his shirt said Sidious Altius [01:38:00] Fortius and then I immediately thought One of the worst decisions that the IOC has done in recent years was add a fourth word onto the, onto the Olympic motto, because I can never remember what it is.

Alison: It’s dumb, is what it is.

Jill: IOC, change it back. Please change it back. Whatever it is together.

Alison: They had the perfect motto. Three is the perfect number for those things. Switch it back, because we don’t do this together.

Jill: But that was really cool to see that, that coaches are really working.

They they’ve been honoring legacy coaches. There’s some kind of a USA Swimming Foundation legacy coach project to kind of capture knowledge. And so, uh, they have a new coach that they honor every night and talk about.

Today in the day session, we had heat for the 200 meter breaststroke and Gabrielle Rose, our 46 year old sensation has qualified for the semifinals. And she said, in the mix zone, she’s like, This was a big surprise. She was much more nervous for this race, but she is ecstatic about what’s going on. She was able to execute the plan she had and is just thrilled with getting to go on.

So I am looking forward to watching the semifinals. And I will say that. It has been so much fun to meet and hang out with listeners, Patrick from Chicagoland and Meredith and Nicholas from Olympic rings and other things blog. You know, Patrick and I have never met. Which is amazing. I know, but we got to hang out.

I got to sit and hang out with him for a while. We were watching the afternoon session and it was like being with friends. Same with Meredith. I hung out with her and watched the afternoon session and it was like hanging out with a friend.

So Shukla Stanis, thank you for being so cool. Thank you for being friends. That’s like seriously, I, you don’t realize until

Alison: you actually meet them. And please, if you are going to Paris, let us know what events you’re going to, [01:40:00] because we would love to stop and say hello, and we obviously don’t know how strict our media seeding is going to be, but if we can hang out for a little bit at an event, that would be just great.

It’s amazing. It would be awesome.

Jill: So we’ve got, some of you have let us know what you’re seeing. We’re trying to put it all together so that we know as we try to figure out our schedule, but uh, yeah, I would love to meet more of you because you all are awesome, awesome people.


Alison: Welcome to Shook Flus Ton.

Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive. These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up our citizenship of our very own country, Shook

Alison: Flus Ton. First up, Andrew Capobianco and partner Quinn Henninger were beaten by only two points at the U.

  1. I know, it was a rough watch. The U. S. Diving Olympic Trials in the 3 meter synchronized springboard, Andrew will be competing again on Saturday in the individual 3 meter springboard. And this came down to the last dive.

it was a heck of a competition.

Jill: Wow. Oh, well, good luck, Andrew, going into your individual event.

Hope that pans out for you. And Ashland University is raising money to build a pillar to honor alumna Katie Moon, our pole vaulter. And that pillar is going to be located outside the school’s new field house. So we will have a link in the show notes on how you can give. And that is going to do it for this episode.

Back to Swimming Trials

Let us know what you think of saber fencing and your thoughts on Olympics one trials, although a lot of you have been talking about it in the Facebook group. Oh, wait, we didn’t even talk about the world record. No, I’m sorry. Oh, we’re not done with the show. Go back to, I, I’m sure everybody has been yelling and throwing their phones because we did not talk about Reagan Smith’s world record that happened last night in the 100 meter backstroke.


that was incredible. First off, second off, I have some answers for you on what it was like to swim [01:42:00] backstroke in the stadium.

Alison: Well, clearly they had no, you know, the, the scuttlebutt that I was reading about in some of this, Oh, those times will be slow. And Regan Smith said, hold my beer. And just, she looked so good, was so fast.

Broke the American record, you said, in the Prelims. Yes. And then turned around and said, you know what, that’s not good enough. Right. And, and she

Jill: said, I didn’t swim a perfect race. There were things on that race that I could do better. And that just kind of blew my mind because if she can put together a world, Uh, world record on a race that doesn’t feel like she did it well enough.

What is she going to do when she gets it all together? And, and honestly, her press conference was really interesting because she has had a lot of lows in the last few years. And, She’s been working on building confidence and she credits her coach, Bob Bowman, , with, and that team with helping her get to a better mind space and feeling confident in her abilities and what she could do.

I know. And, uh,

Alison: who else did Bob Bowman coach?

Jill: Uh, Michael Phelps.

Alison: Yeah.

Jill: So she is really believing in herself more and. The, the times are starting to come and she, she was talking a little bit also about what it was like to swim in a football stadium or yeah, football stadium. And she said, it’s really, it’s really exciting because the crowds are incredible.

Uh, the interesting thing about swimming under a jumbotron is that when you’re on your back, you can see yourself because there’s screens and you can see that the race is going on. And so she also could see, at least in the semi, she could see the world record line And, you know, she’s trying to actively avoid it and, she didn’t want to think about like, she didn’t want to think about that during the race.

So it was work to not look at the screens like [01:44:00] that. But otherwise beyond not letting yourself get extracted by the jumbotron, it’s like swimming in any other pool. So I, I know that some people, she said, I know some people were worried about the ceiling is too high. Are they going to have a hard time staying straight?

And I could tell, I think I kind of hugged the lane line coming home. Uh, she knew she didn’t have a perfectly straight race, but she said, well, but that’s all right. Yeah. But it felt typical, which was good.

Alison: Yeah. It’s just a world record. Right. No problem. Good job. Ah. Don’t you love it when these, and I still say kids because they’re, she’s still so young, when these kids get it together at the right time.

You know, when they’re able to perform in the way that they are capable of at the trials, at the Olympics, at the Paralympics, those moments when they can rise up to those moments. Yeah. And, you know, it was interesting because she was also

Jill: talking about, logic. Um, and she has struggled with separating emotion from logic.

And when she lets emotion get in, that’s when her times go down and that’s when her performance goes down. And she says really good swimmers are just focused on the logic element of it. So basically

Alison: Spock would have been Phelps.

Jill: Yeah, probably. and she’s done that over and over is let her emotions take control.

And that’s really, you know, just. I’ve done a spiral in a sense of, you let the emotions take control, it, it factors into the race, you don’t produce as good results, your confidence goes down, and then it’s just repeat, put that on repeat, but, um, she’s really starting to do a good job at staying logical and knowing what she’s capable of and knowing, what she does in practice, knowing what her abilities are.

And, uh, she thinks that’s what’s really taken her as far as it has. So it was just really refreshing to see how [01:46:00] forthcoming she was and getting that insight into what makes elite athletes tick, how you get great performance and even. you know, elite athletes can have really cycles in how well they do. So

really, I don’t know. It just, it was, it was really cool to, to hear her talk and, and start listening about process a little bit.

Yeah. So yes, I did not forget about the 100 pack. We just have a lot of show notes to go through. So

Alison: that’ll do it for that, this episode. This time we really want to know what you think about saber fencing and the Olympic trials.

Jill: All right. You can find us on X, YouTube and Instagram at flamealipod. Send us an email at flamealipod at gmail.

com. Call or text us at 208 325 4255. 3 8. That’s 2 0 8 flame it chat with us on and other fans on our Facebook group, keep the flame alive podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you at our website, flamealivepod. com. And you know what? I had some thoughts on Rowdy Gaines cause you had a really good Rowdy Gaines story.

Oh, you know why? Cause I got sucked into watching Rowdy cam footage. Thanks for linking to that.

Alison: Well, Um, on Monday, we will still be talking swimming, so we can, finish up. So we’ll have Jamal Hill, who is a Team USA Paralympian in swimming. We’ll finish up with Jill’s stories from the U. S.

Olympic trials. Probably some Rowdy Gaines talk, because who can avoid that? And so much

Jill: more. So much more. It’s

Alison: a busy week. It’s a busy week.

Jill: All right, friends, thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.