David Plummer: Better Than Ever
By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
A lot has changed recently in David Plummer’s world.
This summer, he earned a spot on the U.S. World Championship team and went to Barcelona where he won his first individual international medal – a silver in the 100 backstroke.
On top of that, and more importantly in his ever-evolving life, he’s embracing his new role as a father. His son Will was born just six weeks ago.
Suffice it to say, in and out of the water, Plummer’s life has never been better – or fuller.
“Fatherhood is fantastic,” Plummer said. “I think since he was born, I have just tried to streamline everything else in my life so that I can spend as much time with him and my wife as I can. There is nothing more important to me right now than my family.
“Winning silver at Worlds was a huge moment for me. I have spent years working my way to the top, and this summer was a big payoff.”
Just over a month before the 2012 Olympic Trials, Plummer married wife, Erin, a swimmer he met during a recruiting trip to Georgia more than a decade ago. She originally committed to swim for the Bulldogs before transferring to Minnesota, where Plummer swam.
And while this year has been a banner one for Plummer, last year, when he went to Omaha for Trials expecting to make his first Olympic team, he was met with disappointment and dismay.
While he swam some of his best races, he came up short of his goal with a third place finish in the 100 back – missing a spot on the Olympic team headed for London.
“I thought 2012 was going to be the best year of my life,” Plummer said. “I was marrying the love of my life. I was set up to make the Olympic Team for the first time in my career. Getting third place took a big toll on my pride, but even though I didn't make the team, I had an amazing year. And 2013 has turned out to be just as great.
“I keep thinking life can't get any better, and then it gets better. I think the biggest thing I learned this year is to enjoy the ride. Having a career as a professional athlete is a gift you can lose at any moment. Right now, I am just trying to have fun and work hard.”
After coming up short of making the Olympic team last year, Plummer said he made it a priority to work harder and be in the best position possible this year at the Phillips 66 National Championships. He was a member of the 2011 World Championship team, but he didn’t get the chance to stand alone on the podium, finishing fifth in both the 50 and 100 backstrokes. He did win gold as a member of the 400 medley relay team.
In his view, his individual breakthrough this year was the culmination of all his swimming – the successes and heartaches as well as all the work he’s done in the water over his career.
“I think it (swimming so fast this year) has a lot to do with building off of each previous season,” Plummer said. “I firmly believe that I am improving now based on things I did in high school and college.
“At the same time, my training now is more focused toward my specific events than ever before. I handle stress better and I enjoy the process more. I attribute this to having a good coach in Ben Bartell who keeps me involved in the planning process and is always looking for ways to improve. He does a great job of keeping things exciting.”
While he did experience personal success in the 100 back at Worlds, he also experienced disappointment. In the semifinals of the 50 back, his feet slipped on the wall pads, affecting his takeoff and missed making the finals (finished 16th).
Equally disappointing was the United States’ disqualification in the final of the 400 medley relay, where the team was the top seed and favorite. Despite an early takeoff on the second leg of the race, which resulted in the DQ, Plummer said no one is to blame and he’s still very pleased with the final time.
“I thought I had a great chance at the podium in that event (50 back), and it hurt to miss out on the final,” Plummer said. “In the relay, I felt like the United States did great. Everyone had really great splits (prelims and finals) and we were just unlucky. There isn't anyone to blame. We did our best and came up short, but we will definitely remember and come back better next year.”
Despite celebrating his 28th birthday earlier this week and now being a husband and dad, Plummer said he doesn’t plan to stop competing any time soon.
He has 2016 and another shot at making the Olympic team in his focus, and he said he plans to give it all he has to make sure he’s right there when it comes to the races that determine the U.S. team.
“At this point I don't have plans for retirement,” said Plummer, who will start competing for the New York Athletic Club this year and working with Dreamfuel, a company started by Anthony Ervin’s manager, as a means to support his training.
“All I know is that my friends with 9-5 jobs have to pay to work out. As long as it is an option and I am improving, I plan on continuing. My final few goals are simple: make the Olympic Team, have the perfect race. The first is self-explanatory. The second is being at my absolute best at the biggest meet of the year.”