Beijing Cal-ling: Q&A With Coach Teri McKeever

Cal Swimming Goes Abroad, Dives Into International Limelight in China

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Photo: Teri McKeever re-joins the Team USA staff as assistant coach, her second Olympic stint following the 2004 Games in Athens.   

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STANFORD -- Cal women's swimming coach Teri McKeever routinely coaches under the spotlight, but it's not every year that she brings along a handful of her past understudies to the granddaddy of them all, the summer Olympics.

So although it may be tough for an individual as accomplished as McKeever to display as much candid enthusiasm as some first-timers would -- some of the world's most capable talents have received her tutelage after all -- the 17th-year coach seems to be approaching her time in Beijing with fitting sincerity.

The Daily Californian was able to track down McKeever during Team USA's media day for her perspectives on the national squad.

The Daily Californian: Congratulations on your second Olympic gig as assistant coach for USA Swimming. How has it been with the handful of Bears influences on the squad?

Teri McKeever: It's wonderful. It's a tremendous honor, and I feel very fortunate and blessed and happy that we have a good Golden Bear contingency on the team.

DC: Personally, do Cal alumni stand out a bit more so than the others do at camp?

TM: I think you definitely have a deeper relationship with them, so you kind of look at them a little more. Obviously, you know, working every day with Natalie (Coughlin) and Emily (Silver) and so, they definitely have a special place in your heart, so to speak.

DC: Speaking of Silver, what are your thoughts on her-once again, sadly-broken hand?

TM: It's obviously unfortunate, but I'm really proud of the way she's just refocused and said, 'OK, this is the card I've been dealt, let's do everything we can.' She's definitely down about it, but I think the fact that she's walked through this gives her a little bit of confidence.

DC: Aside from the athletes from Cal, how's the overall level of talent on the U.S. squad?

TM: This is really, just a great group. On the women's side, you've got someone like Dara (Torres) that you'll be able to learn from, it being her fifth Olympics; Natalie is one of the more seasoned people now; Katie Hawk had a lot of experience at this level, and Margaret Holzer, too. So there are tremendous learning opportunities if you're so inclined as a coach and as an athlete.

DC: As you said, Coughlin has been around for a while. How has your relationship evolved over the years? Is it more of a friendship today?

TM: No ... I think it's one of a partnership where there's mutual trust and respect, where you can tell each other hard things and know that you're working for a common goal. My job is to help her reach her goals and be truthful with her, and she gets to make decisions because it's her career, you know.

DC: Fair enough. To wrap things up, what are you most excited about Beijing as a destination?

TM: I think just being in it. I mean, I've been to Japan, but I've never been to China. I think they're going to put on such a magnificent show, and I'm going to be able to be a part of that. I'm looking forward to that, and then probably coming home.

DC: Seems like you've never left Berkeley. In any case, we wish you the best in Beijing, and see you in the fall.


Contact Andrew Kim at [email protected]

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