Athlete of the Week: Matt Bisping, Junior, Swimming

Few people have had the privilege of competing in a race against an Olympian. Even fewer could say they raced alongside 13 time Olympic Gold medalist Michael Phelps. But that is where Mines junior swimmer Matt Bisping found himself when he lined up against Phelps at a USA Swimming Grand Prix meet in 2009. As Bisping remembers, “I didn’t stand a chance.”

You cannot hold it against him though, because while Bisping was racing in his first few competitive swim meets, Phelps was well on his way to earning a record seven gold medals in Beijing. Bisping has not wasted any time since then, finding success in his career as an Oredigger.

This season, Bisping has recorded eight individual first place finishes and three relay first place finishes. The numbers do not lie. And neither do the numerous awards, which include 2010 First Team All-RMAC honors, 2011 Second Team All-RMAC honors, and 2011 CSCAA Honorable Mention Scholar All-American honors. For his efforts and success throughout his career as an Oredigger, Matt Bisping is this week’s Athlete of the Week.

[Oredigger] What is your favorite sport to watch at Mines other than Swimming?
[Bisping] My favorite sport to watch at Mines is basketball. I think it is amazing how well they work as a team. They all understand where they need to be and what they should be doing. You can tell when you watch them play that there is no one person that is the “star,” but by working together and using each other’s strengths they can play past almost any team.

What is your favorite sport to play other than swimming?
My favorite sport, other than swimming, is probably beach volleyball. I enjoy getting out in the sun, especially after the long hours indoors in the pool. Plus, it allows me to use my length and there isn’t nearly as much running as other sports.

Is it true that you consistently spend $20 at Chipotle each visit?
It is true that I spend about $20 every time I go to Chipotle. During season I have to eat about 6000 calories a day to keep up with how much we burn off in the pool so I usually get two burritos and who can pass up the guacamole? But this usually gets me into trouble. I have had to start pre-eating when we go out, just so I don’t spend too much money.

How long have you been swimming competitively?
This is my fifth year. My first time swimming was my sophomore year of high school but I would not say I was competitive. I barely knew how to swim but I’m not one to give up on a challenge. Every day I would go to practice and look at the fast lanes and say I want to be like that one day. It wasn’t until my senior year when I joined a club team that I would say that I became competitive.

What is your favorite swimming memory?
My favorite memory is more like a collection of memories. Every meet we swim starts out with a relay. My favorite memory is all the times that the four of us on the relay stand up behind the blocks together and get ready to start off a new meet.

If you could never swim or play the guitar again, which would you choose?
Tough question. I don’t think I could do without either one since they both play different roles in my life. I have been playing music for 17 years so never playing guitar again would be like losing a part of myself, but never swimming again would be like losing my family.

If you weren’t a swimmer, how would you spend all your extra time?
I would probably play music and go hiking a lot more. I have always wanted to pick up piano again and it would be nice to have more time to play guitar. In the summer I trail run for fun but I’d like to get out further into the mountains and see more.

Do you have any pre-meet superstitions?
I don’t have pre-meet rituals but about ten minutes before all of my races, I find a quiet corner, put my hood up, sit and clear my head.

If you could have dinner with Michael Phelps, what would you ask him?
I have actually swam against Michael Phelps needless to say, I didn’t stand a chance. But I would ask him what his motivation is. For someone to be as great as he is, he must have a really good source of motivation.

What is the farthest distance you have swum at one time?
The farthest that we have swam in one practice is 7 miles. I am a sprinter, so I don’t focus on distance but that 7 mile practice was hard for everyone.

Nerdiest thing you’ve seen at Mines?
I have seen some of the freshman playing a full blown game of Pokemon with cards. I didn’t even know that those cards were still around.

Favorite/Least favorite classes taken at Mines?
My favorite class at Mines was Organic Chemistry, it came naturally to me and it was interesting. My least favorite class was Physics 100. At the time it was like a foreign language to me and I just barely scraped by in that class.

If you could change one thing about Mines, it would be…?
I could always go for better food. It is more enjoyable to eat the copious amounts of food swimmers need if it tastes good.

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