June 13, 2012
By Brandon Singer '12
With the Olympics fast approaching, former California swimmer Graeme Moore is looking forward to representing both his home country of South Africa and the Golden Bears during the 2012 London Games. Moore, a standout for Cal from 2008-11, capped his collegiate career as a key member of the 2011 national championship squad and was an NCAA finalist in the 100 fly (4th), 100 free (7th), and the 50 free (8th), as well being a member of NCAA champion 400 free and 200 medley relays.
Moore has grown immensely, both in and out of the water, since he first arrived at Cal as a 17-year-old who had never even visited the state of California before becoming a Bear. Though Moore was a talented swimmer, his first year in Berkeley didn't go exactly as planned. He was slowed down by mononucleosis and struggled a bit in the pool after adjusting to life far away from his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Graeme followed a similar progression as a lot of our guys," said head coach David Durden, whose inaugural season leading the Bears coincided with Moore's freshman campaign. "He wasn't great in his freshman year, and part of that was that he was sick and some of it was me learning what positions to put him in to succeed. Graeme's hard work and dedication to making some changes after that first year really set him up for a great next three seasons."
Moore was an extremely versatile swimmer during his time with the Bears, regularly competing on four of five relay teams and swimming the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly.
Both Moore and former Cal teammate and USA Olympian Nathan Adrian have the distinction of being on all five of Cal's school record-setting relays. Moore is also on the school's all-time top time list in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly.
"Graeme is really more comfortable with the shorter sprints, but he is so unselfish that when we asked him to move up and swim on some of the longer relays, he stepped up to the challenge and excelled," said Durden. "For me, it was one of those memorable times watching him swim his leg of the 800 freestyle relay and then come back the next morning and qualify for the NCAA finals in individual events."
After graduating from Cal with a degree in integrative biology in 2011, Moore has remained in Berkeley, feeling very much at home and continuing to train for London where he will compete for South Africa in the 400 free relay and possibly the 100 free.
"Since I arrived at Cal, I never once thought that I would be better off somewhere else," said Moore. "I can't think of a better place to be training for the Olympics than here."
Heading into his first Olympic games, it would be understandable if Moore had a lot of nerves and jitters, but instead he is just excited for the opportunity to experience everything that will go on in London.
"I'm going to be like a five-year old at Disneyland," said Moore. "I'm probably going to be really bug-eyed, but it is good because I am just excited and not really nervous. I look forward to competing at the Olympics against the best in the world and sharing the experience with the people I care about."
One of those who will most likely be sharing in the London experience with Moore is his good friend Adrian, who already owns a gold medal by swimming in preliminaries of the 400 free relay for the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"It is just great knowing the guy you are going to be racing next to is the same guy you have been getting up in the morning and going to practice with for the past five years," said Moore. "Being able to share that with someone like Nathan is just a huge honor and a privilege."
Moore and Adrian have been training together, along with several other Cal alumni, on a regular basis at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The arrangement works out well for both the alumni, who are able to train together and continue to receive guidance from the Cal coaching staff, as well as current members of the Cal swim team who benefit from the experience and advice of the talented post-graduate athletes who have had so much success representing the Bears.
According to Durden, Moore has always been a quiet leader who has helped guide his Cal teammates through his actions, rather than standing up in front of the team and delivering inspirational speeches. Moore has never minded giving up the spotlight to others.
Typical of his under the radar approach to swimming and life, Moore is eager to spend some of his Olympic time checking out some of the lesser-known events taking place in London.
"I want to see some of the sports that don't get lots of media attention and aren't on TV a lot," said Moore. "I really appreciate how much time and effort any athlete puts into their sport, even if they don't get a lot of recognition."
Though often overshadowed and not receiving quite the recognition as someone like Nathan Adrian during his time as a Bear, Moore is now ready to step out of the shadows and enjoy the spotlight of the world stage at his first Olympics.