The 2005 FINA World Swimming Championships this summer in Montreal (July 16-31) set the stage for international recognition of Ann Arbor as the new swimming capital of the United States. Under the direction of Michigan coach Bob Bowman, five swimmers — current Wolverines Peter Vanderkaay and Davis Tarwater along with Club Wolverine swimmers Kleet Keller, Chris Thomson and eight-time Olympic medal winner Michael Phelps — proved to the world swimming community that something’s in the water at Michigan. The Michigan Daily talked with Vanderkaay about the World Championships. The Michigan Daily: How would you describe your experience in Montreal? Were you happy with your races?Peter Vanderkaay: I was happy with the way the meet went. There were a lot of exciting swims. I had good races and broke school records in both of my events (200- and 400-meter freestyle), so I was happy with how the meet ended up. TMD: What was it like being able to compete with the same 800-meter relay team (Vanderkaay, Phelps, Keller and Ryan Lochte) that won the gold medal in last summer’s Olympics in Athens (Greece)?PV: It was cool to be able to put the team back together again. Being able to swim with those guys is a lot of fun, and it made it feel like we were back in Athens again.TMD: Did your relay team plan on going for the American record? What was your reaction when you guys broke the record?PV: We actually thought that we had a chance to break the world record (7:04.66). I guess the American record was our backup plan if we didn’t reach our goal. We were a little off the record (1.92 seconds), but breaking the American record was still pretty great. We were the favorites in the race, so we weren’t too surprised at winning it.TMD: What is the M.O. that is attached with competing in the World Championships, and how could you compare it to the Olympic level?PV: The World Championships are the same as the Olympics, only they happen in the off years between Olympics. The meet draws out the best swimmers in the world. This year, there were a couple of top swimmers who decided not to swim (Australian Ian Thorpe opted out this year), but that didn’t make too much of a difference in the competition.TMD: Do you have a different racing mentality when you compete at the international level versus college or on the national scene?PV: I try and keep my strategy the same when I’m racing. I’ll swim races a little differently depending on who I’ll be swimming next to in the heat. I usually try and go out at the same pace with the competition next to me and then adjust accordingly. International races can be a little intimidating, but I just stick to my own swimming and own gameplan. TMD: Was your training for this meet different than other meets since you weren’t in school and had more time?PV: I did a lot more long-course training and increased my dry-land workouts for this meet. With more time to deal with in the summer, it’s easier to get more focused for the meets ahead of time. TMD: Who were you most looking forward to competing against in Montreal?PV: There wasn’t a particular swimmer that I wanted to swim against. I was just happy to swim for the United States and get caught up in the competition and excitement of the meet. TMD: After breaking out in the fastest 100 meters in your heat of the 400-meter freestyle, could you walk me through your race strategy for your swim? PV: I tried to go out faster than normal in my first 100 meters. I tried not to make it feel too hard, but it may have been a little too much because I faded a bit over the next 200 meters. I could see some of the other guys inching up on me, and I tried to hold them off. I ended up sixth in the race after being seeded fifth in the preliminaries, but I swam a lifetime best time, so I was pleased with the race overall.TMD: After Phelps surprisingly failed to make the finals in the 400-meter freestyle race, did he talk to you about what happened? PV: (Michael) said he didn’t feel good in the race and that he felt really tired on the end leg of the swim. The race didn’t get him down though, and he was ready for the other events he had coming up. The 400 was the one race he didn’t train for.TMD: With five Wolverines competing and coach Bowman as one of the coaches at the World Championships, how do you feel about Ann Arbor being named the up-and-coming swimming capital of the nation?PV: I think it’s great that Ann Arbor has become the central leader in developing the top swimmers in the nation and world. It’s a huge opportunity for me to be here and be a part of the growth of the program. I also think it’s great because we’re doing it under the Michigan name.