Chamorro To Compete In The Olympic Marathon Final

Benjamin Schulte of Guam accepted the invitation to compete in the Olympic Marathon Swimming 10km on August 10th at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Daily News of Open Water Swimming inquired about this young 16-year-old who is coached by Brian King and Denis Cotterell on the Gold Coast in Australia. In the Serpentine in front of a global TV audience, he will be in an Olympic final competing against some men double his age:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When you finished the race in Setubal Bay, did you imagine you qualified for the Olympics?
Schulte: I was wondering where the New Zealand swimmer finished because his placing would determine if I had a shot at a qualified position.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When you heard about the possibility of you making the Olympics, what was your first thought?
Schulte: A year or so ago it honestly hadn’t even crossed my mind that I could make the Olympic team in open water swimming. So my first thought was, “No that can’t be – I really have a chance?!

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How proud are you to wear the uniform of Guam at the Olympics?
Schulte: It is completely humbling and I’m honoured to be given the opportunity to represent my home at the Olympic Games.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is this the first time a swimmer from Guam has made an Olympic final in swimming?
Schulte: Yes, I believe this would be the first time a Chamorro or Guamanian swimmer has made a swimming final at the Olympics. [Chamorros are the native people of Guam.]

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What does your participation in the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim mean to swimming in general in Guam?
Schulte: Swimming is not the biggest and most popular of sports on Guam. It would be great to know that my efforts in London would boost the swimming profile in the community and get more people active with the sport, whether it’d be an introduction of swimming into schools, better public facilities, or even just parents enrolling their kids into swimming lessons.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What does your participation in the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim mean to the open water swimming community in Guam?
Schulte: Though we do have open water races on Guam, there aren’t that many and as far as I know none of them are FINA-approved distances. Guam’s never sent an open water swimmer to an event like the Olympics although there has been swimmers who have competed in the 5K at Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the Pacific Games. Hopefully my participation will lead to a bigger open water swimming community and more recognition to the sport in general.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You train in Australia and you want to go to school at Stanford University. Do you intend to move back to Guam at some time?
Schulte: I hope to be back living there again in the next several years. The saying, “You never know what you have until it’s gone” definitely applies to me right now … I’m so homesick!

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You are only 16 years old. It is possible you could make the Olympics again at the age of 20, 24, 28…Have you thought that far ahead?
Schulte: I’ve thought about the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics a lot and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve thought about the 2020 Olympics on occasion, like googling which countries are bidding, but I’d never thought of it with me actually competing. It’s just too far out. And the 2024 Olympics seems like an eternity away. I’m just taking it step-by-step.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What kind of workouts do you do?
Schulte: Leading up to the Olympic Qualifier in Portugal, I was doing on average 9 km sessions with a few shorter ones through the week to work on speed. I’ve only been back for a few days and the past week has just been re-acclimatizing to the work load, but in the weeks to come I plan on upping them to 10 km sessions, possibly more.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is there any particular strategy you are planning for your race on August 10th?
Schulte: I’ve only swum three 10 km races before, which included the Olympic Qualifier, so I haven’t really figured out what strategy works best for me yet. One thing I know is that you need to be flexible when it comes to strategy, but my main plan is to stay with the pack for as long as possible and try to stay out of trouble.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you know your training schedule between now and August 10th? That is, when are you moving into the Olympic Village, when will you start your taper?
Schulte: My training schedule will remain pretty much the same until I leave for London. I’m not sure yet when the Guam National Olympic Committee is planning on us arriving in London. As for taper, Dennis will be working that out, but it’s usually not too far out before the race.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who will be feeding you at the feeding station on August 10th?
Schulte: We’ve requested for my dad to be my feeder during the race. He’s always been my feeder up until now and we’ve been practising quite a bit over the past few months.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones