Thursday, April 23, 2009

Featuring MAC National Champions: Lauren Thies

During the yearlong recognition of the Century of Swimming at MAC at its competitive swimming, we feature swimmers and coaches who had a big impact on the swimming program at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
Today we will focus our feature article on swimmer Lauren Thies. Lauren was the last swimmer to win National titles in the spring of 2007 where she won both the 100 and 200freestyle. In 2006 Lauren placed at Nationals, which made a spot for on the National Team representing USA in the Pan American games in Brazil in august of 2007.

Lauren, how did you start your swimming career?

With swimming lessons at MAC when she was 5 years old, which she didn’t really take a liking to. Because she was always around the water whether a lake, river or ocean her parents insisted. At the age of 7 or 8 she was asked to join the swim team because of her steady progress through the lesson program. Her first coach was Becky Macklem.

Lauren, did you have any interest in any other sport/activities?

Skiing, ballet and gymnastics but her height got in the way and her coordination was lacking in sports with hand-eye coordination and body awareness.

Once on the team, who were your coaches?

Becky Macklem started her out in a pre-competitive program. Debbie Barnes was her next coach in the age group program. At 12, Lauren swam with the Senior Team with Skip Runkle. Lauren did remember that Debbie was the first coach to recognize her potential in swimming and what she might do in the future. In her first swim meet at the Sandy Pool she broke the pool record in the 25 yd. Butterfly. Skip was impressed with her body type, long and lean-for any swimmer- ideal. As she got older she grew into her body and the earlier characteristics of coordination faded away in the water.

How many National titles?

Lauren kind of hesitated but did admit 5 –3 in the 200m free and 2 in the 100m free.

Tell me a little bit about your college swimming…

Lauren swam for Stanford 3 years red shirting her sophomore year due to a back injury, in her 5th year she swam at Texas and returned to Stanford to graduate. Along the way she helped Stanford win the NCAA’s Women’s team title in 1998. She did mention that her best placing was swimming at Texas with a 5th place finish in the 200 yd free.

Fondest memories of swimming?

Great teammates, then she went on to mention Brady Childs, Chris and Scott Sinai, Lindsey Haffner. Rewards such as- making Junior Nationals as a 14 year old and winning 3 Jr. Nat. titles. Hard work does pay off!

Any favorite sets or workouts?

8-10-12X 50’s all out on 1minute. Fastest average, endurance and give it your all. Lauren also mentioned kick sets, being an outstanding kicker she likes to work with stretch bands around her ankles while she kicks. Another set she mentioned was long course, 3x200 broken at the 100 on 5minutes-fast.

After graduation-what developed?

After graduation, Lauren retired form the sport in 2002 but because of her interest and experience she returned to the sport in 2005. She headed into coaching at Lincoln H.S. and Hillsboro Heat club coaching. She could understand and appreciate what was going on with swimmers both in and out of the water. The more she coached the more she missed the sport and taking an active roll in her own life. She had more to give and had to prove it to her self. She was at home in the water and couldn’t get it out of her system, at least not yet.

What would pass along to younger swimmers?

Listen to your coaches because they can tell where you’ve been and where you’re headed. As long as you are commit to the sport, the long practices, the meets, etc. they will always believe in you! Stick with it!
If you are injured, work thru it. Experience failure because it can only help you grow stronger. Look beyond the surface-for the swimmer and the sport there is a lot more than meets the eye.

As we get closer to the October 18th, 2009 celebration please help us acknowledge all those, swimmers, coaches, parents, officials and management who helped develop this program and make it one of success and pride that we can take with us for years to come.

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