March 7, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Junior Ian Clutten (Capetown, South Africa) will head to the NCAA Championships in the 100-meter breaststroke for a third straight season after qualifying with a third-place finish at the 2005 Big Ten Championships. This year's NCAA Championships will be held in Minneapolis, Minn., March 24-26.
In Oct., Clutten represented his native South Africa at the FINA Short Course World Championships. He placed 22nd in the 50 breast.
Q: How did you get from Capetown, South Africa, to East Lansing?
A: It had been a dream of mine to come over to America and swim because the collegiate system here is the best in the world. I e-mailed a lot of coaches overseas and the coach at the time at MSU e-mailed me back and worked out a scholarship. The fact that the engineering school is really good at MSU also came into play. It was a long process, but that's how it worked out.
Q: From a cultural standpoint, what was one of the hardest adjustments for you to make when you got to the U. S.?
A: It wasn't too hard. I think my family is just like an average family here. It was a little different because back home there are many different cultures. I think it was just the small things that come into play. Dialogue was a little different. We call the trunk of a car the `boot'. It's just the weird things like that I get made fun of for, but it is all in good fun.
Q: How did you first get interested in swimming?
A: Swimming is in my family. My great-grandmother swam for Scotland back in the day, 1928; she was really good. My parents are both athletes. I swam because my older sister swam - that's kind of how it happened.
Q: Did you choose to swim the breaststroke or was it just naturally your best stroke?
A: The first day my mom took me swimming - I think I was six - and they could just tell by the way I walked that I was a breaststroker. That was basically the only thing I swam, and I was horrible at the rest of the strokes.
Q: How did performing at the Big Ten Championships prepare you for the upcoming NCAA Championships?
A: I swam my two best times in my two breaststroke events, and I broke another second barrier. When you go faster, you get more confidence and more experience. That gives you confidence when you get to big meets like the NCAA Championships; you know you can perform at the highest level. I think confidence is such a big thing when you get to a meet like that.
Q: Does it help that this is not your first time competing in the NCAA Championships?
A: Yes. My freshman year I was definitely daunted by how many good swimmers there were and it definitely affected how I swam. Now, it is my third time going and I know what is going to happen and how it plays out. I am excited.
Q: How do you stay focused on school when you are preparing for such a big meet as the NCAA Championships?
A: It isn't easy. You just schedule your day and get through as much as you can; I try and do everything so I can go to bed at night. It isn't easy missing weeks of school at a time, so you just have to be prepared and get as much done early as you can.
Q: Are the expectations higher for your performance since you've competed before?
A: Definitely. I definitely hope to make the top eight this year. It will be really tough, but I think I can do it. I want a huge improvement compared to the other two years.