Olympic Hopeful Q&A with William Copeland

June 26, 2008

BERKELEY - CalBears.com caught up with William Copeland prior to the June 29-July 6 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, at which the now former California men's swimmer will attempt to earn a spot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Copeland completed his Cal career this past March in the 2008 NCAA Championships. The Lexington, Va., product placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle and fifth in the 50 free at NCAAs. He was also a member of Cal's second-place 400-medley relay, third-place 400-free relay and third-place 200-medley relay at the national meet.

CalBears.com: What events are you trying to qualify in?

Copeland: 'My best shot's in the 100 freestyle, because they take six people for the relays, as opposed the 50, which is just two guys, so I'll swim both 50 and the 100. But the 100 is my best shot, and it's my best event, too.'

CalBears.com: What are the biggest sacrifices you've had to make to try and reach the Olympics?

Copeland: 'Everything has to take a back burner view to put swimming up front. I can't put as much time into my social life as I want to, but it's well worth it.'

CalBears.com: What are you looking forward to the most in Beijing?

Copeland: 'I'm just excited about it all. I've never been to a huge, international meet like this. But I think just swimming in the Olympics is what I'm going to love, during the race is what I'm going to go for, so that's what I'm looking forward to.'

CalBears.com: You recently finished your senior season. How have you responded to the academic challenges at Cal?

Copeland: 'It's a lot harder when you're a freshman, but you learn what to do year to year. Cal's prepared me even better for life after school.'

CalBears.com: What is it like to have four years of collegiate competition lead up to the Olympics?

Copeland: 'I'm lucky in that my year of school ends right with the Olympics. At the end of high school there was a shot, and obviously I wasn't ready then. But now, after another four years, I'm a lot more prepared, and four years from now I'll be even better.'

CalBears.com: How did you first become interested in your sport?

Copeland: 'I first got into swimming because of my older sister. I just wanted to do what she did. But I didn't like it very much, so I quit when I was 10. After a year, I think I came back on my own terms. It was something that I wanted to do, and something that I was good at.'

CalBears.com: Who are your role models?

Copeland: 'All the older guys, like (Cal alumnus) Duje Draganja, all the older guys in my event that I strived to be like, I'd watch their strokes underwater as a freshman and a sophomore. I'd try to swim like them, and it's helped me out.'

CalBears.com: Who has been your biggest influence?

Copeland: 'The team, especially this year, everybody trained super-hard, and it showed. We really did great.'

CalBears.com: When did you first dream of competing in the Olympics?

Copeland: 'For every little kid swimming, the Olympics are what you see on TV. It's the big show, so I've wanted to go for a long time. But it hasn't been until this year, really, that it's become a possibility, even something to start thinking about in reality.'

CalBears.com: How has Cal helped you attain this dream?

Copeland: 'There are Olympians on my team. I've trained with silver medalists, gold medalists over the years. Being here at Cal, there's a winning attitude. You're almost expected to do great things.'