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article imageCatching up with McKenzie Coan: Paralympic gold medalist swimmer Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jun 24, 2019 in Sports
Paralympic gold medalist swimmer and world record holder McKenzie Coan chatted with Digital Journal about her plans for the future, her new partnerships with companies and she opened up about the digital age of aquatics.
On her future plans, she said, "I just found out that I've been selected to the World Championships roster for Team USA. I am super excited and honored to represent my country once again. This will be my third World Championships and the event will be held in London from September 9 to 15."
"To say that I have my eyes set on gold would be a major understatement," she admitted. "My training has been going great and I expect some really phenomenal moments in the pool throughout the rest of the summer and year. I want more than anything else to defend my World Champion titles with golds and break more world records this year."
Coan also announced some very exciting partnerships with some amazing companies. "Being a part of Team Adidas, I feel more confident and prepared than ever to deliver fast swimming this year. As I look forward to World Championships this summer and Tokyo 2020 next year, I could not be more excited to partner with a brand with amazing suit technologies that also values the very ideals that I value in my life and career," she explained.
She continued, "Adidas' commitment to pursuing dreams, girls and women's empowerment in sport and the sustainability and protection of our natural environment are just a few of the reasons why I am so thrilled to join the Adidas family. I am also super excited to share that I’m part of Team LendingTree. I could not be more ecstatic to be a part of their team and have their amazing support."
Coan will also be a keynote speaker at the LEAD Sports Summit, a leadership conference that cultivates confidence and empowerment for girls and young women. "LEAD was founded by three-time Olympic swimmer and multiple time medalist, Kara Lynn Joyce. It's such an honor to be selected as one of their keynote speakers and I cannot wait for the conference," she exclaimed.
Digital age of swimming
On being a swimmer in this digital age of swimming, she responded, "Taking full advantage of this digital age is what's separating the good swimmers from the great swimmers. There are so many incredible technologies out there that athletes are now utilizing to maximize performance. Measuring things like stroke rate, distance per stroke, breakout, and turn times have become a norm in my training."
Coan continued, "I look just as much to the technology I'm utilizing as I do the kind of workouts I am doing. At least once a week we get out the video monitors out and break down my stroke so I can get an idea of what I am doing in the water and how I can get the most out of my stroke."
"It really is a huge advantage to be a swimmer or even in an athlete in other sports in this day in age. We have access to things that people could've only dreamed of decades ago that will help make us faster, stronger, and more efficient. Everyone should be taking advantage of the digital tools at our generation's fingertips," she elaborated.
"Living in this digital age also comes with responsibility when it comes to the social media side of the technology game," she said. "Professional athletes have a great responsibility with social media to connect with young, aspiring athletes to encourage them to go after their own aspirations and be the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians."
On her proudest professional moments, she said, "Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I take a moment to think about my career, thus far. A lot of hard work, sacrifice, and effort not just from myself but from my parents, family, doctors, swim and lift coaches, national team staff and many others have gotten me to where I am today."
"I think back to the beginning of my international career in London 2012 was one of my proudest moments because it had always been my dream to swim on the worlds biggest stage for the USA and that was my start," she recalled.
Coan continued, "Stepping on the blocks at the games for the final of the 400 meter freestyle was a dream come true but I knew I wanted more. In four years, I wanted to be on that podium. I poured my heart and soul into training, doing everything I could to maximize my performance and it all paid off when I won my first international medal at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow."
"Of course, Rio has to be the highlight of my career so far," she acknowledged. "The entire week in Rio truly seemed like I was living a dream. My first time on top of the podium with a gold medal in the 50 meter free was filled with so many emotions and pride for my country that I didn't think I would ever be able to top it until I did twice more individually and also with a silver in the relay which comes with its own unique sense of pride; achieving it as a team and being selecting with three other strong and courageous members of Team USA."
"The last few years since Rio have also been filled with World Championship titles and world records which have been truly amazing and I am certainly looking to continue that this summer," she added. "In all, I think anytime you get to stand behind the blocking wearing the stars and stripes is such a cool and proud moment. I really am living out my dreams."
Coan noted that she uses technology or technological equipment as part of her daily routine in training. "Every week, my coach and I pull out our underwater video equipment and review footage on the monitor at the pool. Utilizing such technology has been absolutely invaluable to my career," she said.
"Having the ability to watch and breakdown all aspects of my stroke is a huge tool that I take full advantage of. It is one thing to discuss stroke, tempo, and technique, but it is another thing to see it in front of you in order to make corrections that translate to more efficient and faster swimming," she added.
For young and aspiring swimmers, she said, "Throughout my entire life, people have wanted to dictate the things I'm capable of. After my bone disorder diagnosis, doctors told my parents I would never sit, crawl, stand, walk, or even talk. Even when I was older, some people would still try and tell me all the things I would face or all the things I would never do (according to them) and I just decided that I would never let someone else dictate what I am capable of."
"I had already proved so many of them wrong once and I knew I would do it again and again so it really didn’t matter what they had to say because I knew who I was and what I was capable of even through the obstacles I faced," she said.
"So, If I could tell young swimmers and any athletes out there one thing: It would be to never let anyone else dictate what they are capable of. As long as they have the heart, the drive, and the work ethic there is no reason why they can't chase and achieve their dreams. The only limitations that exist are the ones they allow to exist. Forgot what others say and go for it."
For her fans and supporters, Coan said, "I would like to say thank you. Waking up every single day focused on the goal of representing the Stars and Stripes on the world's biggest stage is why I do what I do. I want to bring home gold for my country and also for those who are behind me every stroke of the way. I truly hope I can make them proud at Worlds and next year in Tokyo."
To learn more about Paralympic gold medalist and world record holder McKenzie Coan, follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.
More about McKenzie Coan, Paralympic, Swimmer, World record
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