Feb. 23, 2011
BERKELEY - CalBears.com spoke to Colleen Fotsch the day before the junior swimmer left with her California teammates for the Pac-10 Championships. Pac-10s begin tonight and end on Saturday, Feb. 26, in Federal Way, Wash. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Fotsch joined the Golden Bears last season, after swimming her freshman year at Notre Dame. At the 2010 NCAA Championships, Fotsch earned two All-America honors after leading off Cal's fourth-place 200-yard medley relay (1:37.64) and seventh-place 400-yard medley relay (3:33.88).
CalBears.com: Your last competition was the Feb. 12 win over Stanford in the Big Meet at Spieker Aquatics Complex. How exciting was it to beat your big rival for only the fifth time in the all-time series?
Colleen Fotsch: Just winning that meet was a big accomplishment and not just because it was big rival. Just having the beautiful weather, swimming great and having the seniors win in their last dual meet - that was the greatest gift we could give the senior class, to end their senior season on such a high note. From the speeches about the seniors in the beginning to having it come down to the final relay, it was all incredible. Not only did it end the dual-meet season on such a good note, it motivates and excites all of us to see how we're going to do at Pac-10s.
CalBears.com: What are you swimming at Pac-10s?
CF: I'll be in the 50 and 100 free, the 100 fly and 100 back and some relays.
CalBears.com: You're known as a backstroker/butterflier. Have you worked on improving any other strokes this season?
CF: Throughout high school I had definitely been more of a backtroker and butterflier. Coming to Cal, I've improved my freestyle a lot. But underwater - if you ask anyone on the team, that's what I'm doing the majority of the time. It doesn't matter what stroke I swim, I'm underwater most of the time. Because of that, backstroke and butterfly are my key races.
CalBears.com: You originally went to Notre Dame before transferring to Cal. Why did you transfer? Was coming back to the San Francisco Bay Area part of your reasoning?
CF: It's nice being close to home, but it definitely wasn't the deciding factor when I decided to leave. Swimming is such a major part of my life. Going into college, I wanted the best of both worlds - great academics and great athletics. Unfortunately Notre Dame wasn't a great fit for me. I took a trip to Cal and fell in love with the coaches, Teri and Kristen. I felt I belonged on this team, that they had the same goals and aspirations that I did. I love it at Cal. I'm getting the best of everything, and there are endless opportunities open to me, whether academically or athletically. I love being able to come to the pool and see my best friends every day.
CalBears.com: You were Palo Alto High School and Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics (PASA) club teammates with Cal teammate Liv Jensen, a fellow Palo Alto native. What did she tell you about Cal?
CF: I will keep thanking her till there's no tomorrow for telling me to look at Cal. She was a fantastic teammate in high school. I was born in California and moved a ton, to Illinois and Maryland and then back to California. My dad just kept switching companies. Before I moved back to California, I really didn't have that many goals in swimming. I just wanted to swim in college and didn't know where.
When we moved to California my junior year of high school and I joined PASA, Liv forced me to raise my expectations and raise the bar in swimming. When I was deciding to transfer, she said to look at Cal. I'm so glad she was here to tell Teri about me, to put in a good word about me. It was real nice to come to Cal and know someone on the team. I've gotten to know her even better. She's one of the best teammates I've ever had, and she's become one of my best friends.
CalBears.com: Has Cal met your expectations?
CF: It's exceeded all my expectations. I didn't know that a swim program and a school as well could teach me so much about life and about being a better person. At end of the day, I couldn't be more excited to go to Pac-10s and see where the season goes from there. When practice is over, and you know you have your best 24 best friends there behind your back, to be able to travel with them and have them there all the time...it's an amazing support system not only in the pool but outside of the pool. That's what's the most important thing - not just competition - but that there are so many things in the pool that make you better outside the pool.
CalBears.com: What are the biggest differences between Berkeley and South Bend, Ind.?
CF: Besides the weather, it's hard to pick just a few. To be honest it's completely night and day. I like the location of Berkeley. There's so much to do; on weekends there are so many places to go and eat. Cal has a much bigger campus; Notre Dame had only about 10,000 students. Just being happy was the biggest difference for me - to want to go to practice in the morning, and even when it's ridiculously hard, to enjoy every second of it. To enjoy the company you have around you is the biggest difference for me.
CalBears.com: You competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. Any thoughts on trials for 2012?
CF: I definitely want to keep swimming until trials 2012, because it works out perfectly since I graduate in 2012. Right now, it's looking way down the road. I still have, thank goodness, two more Pac-10s and two more NCs. This last summer was the first summer I stayed at school and swam; that was really cool to experience that. I really want to keep swimming until trials 2012 and see what happens.
CalBears.com: Are you still undeclared? What do you think you'll major in?
CF: I'm declaring media studies.
CalBears.com: What kind of career do you want to pursue once you're done with competitive swimming?
CF: I've always been torn between two sorts of careers. I'm thinking about coaching because I just love swimming and would love experiencing being on the other side of it. I did Cal Camp last summer, and it was real neat to teach those kids. I've done lessons with younger kids, technique wise, and really enjoyed that. I also love web design and graphic design, which is kind of what my dad does - a lot of e-commerce, dealing with website experience and how people use technology to do everything. I want to go to grad school. I probably will have it all figured out by then.
CalBears.com: What do you do in your spare time?
CF: In the little spare time that we have, whenever I can get homework done, I love taking a trip to Palo Alto for an afternoon and hanging out with my younger siblings. I'm the youngest of six, so there are a lot of them. I really like music. I'm not super artsy, but since I like graphic design, I like drawing for fun sometimes. I loved taking art classes and design classes in high school.
CalBears.com: What was the last movie you saw?
CF: It was the other night when I watched "Despicable Me" with Cindy Tran. I had probably seen it about 10 times, but she hadn't seen it, and it's a funny movie. When it came out, my team was quoting it all the time.
CalBears.com: What is your favorite song?
CF: That'd be a toughie. I don't know. One of my jobs for the team is that I'm part of the tech crew. I get to pick the playlist for weight training and when we travel to meets like Pac-10s. I actually have to do that tonight. I have to make CDs so we can play them when going to and from the pool. I find that so much fun. You're always trying to find new music. My brother actually helps me out with that. When people get really excited to hear your music, it's fun.
CalBears.com: What's your favorite TV show?
CF: I really like "Modern Family" on ABC.
CalBears.com: What's your favorite stroke to swim?