Swimming-'Professor' McEvoy offers new lesson in versatility
"A couple of days before this competition were effectively the first few strokes I did of butterfly this whole preparation -- since Fukuoka," said McEvoy. "I was 18th in Fukuoka and third today -- so this is quite a big step in six months.
Having torn up the textbook on sprint training to snatch a freestyle world title at Fukuoka last year, Cameron McEvoy now has a surprise butterfly bronze to add to his trophy cabinet and burnish a career that just keeps on giving.
A few months before his 30th birthday, Australian McEvoy competed in the first, non-freestyle world final of his career at the championships in Doha on Monday, finishing third in the 50 metres butterfly won by Portugal's Diogo Ribeiro. Nicknamed "The Professor", the former maths and physics student has long been known for his cerebral approach to swimming.
But the butterfly medal was hard for him to get his head around, having barely trained in the stroke before the event. "A couple of days before this competition were effectively the first few strokes I did of butterfly this whole preparation -- since Fukuoka," said McEvoy.
"I was 18th in Fukuoka and third today -- so this is quite a big step in six months. So it is a big surprise and it is very nice." McEvoy became his nation's oldest swimming world champion in Fukuoka last year when he won the 50m freestyle title in a sizzling 21.06 seconds, putting his late-career surge down to radical change in his training regime.
In short, he bulked up by 20 kilograms and trains much less than he used to - a few kilometres of high-intensity laps in a week rather than the 30-odd he would usually do for 11-1/2 months of the year. HEALTHY WAY
McEvoy was glad to ditch the old ways, saying they made him feel unwell and sapped him of motivation. "For me, it's just if you can relate to the sport on a day-to-day basis in a healthy way, there's motivation," he said.
"I'm naturally curious about that type of stuff. I've had thoughts about particular ways to train from as young as 11 years old, although I probably wasn't right back then." Swimming colleagues have sat up and taken notice of his results, with some contacting him for guidance.
"I've actually had quite a number of Aussie and international athletes come out and effectively I'm writing their programme ... So I'm kind of coaching and racing alongside them." McEvoy will have a few days to rest before he starts his 50m freestyle title defence in the heats on Friday.
He is already looking forward to a tilt for an individual Olympic gold medal at Paris 2024, having won only minor medals in relay events at Games past. While other top swimmers have skipped Doha to focus on their Olympic preparations, McEvoy says the February championships are a blessing for a sprinter.
"I'm very excited for it ... The field's stacked, a lot of depth there," he said. "So having it as a real race, you couldn't ask for a better set-up in my personal perspective."
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