Olympic swimmer Fgeson trains and trains with Moline’s Roche | Sports


Two-time Olympian Colleen Furgeson’s swimming career was reinvigorated after training and training with Moline High School swim coach Michael Roche.

Furgeson, who has represented the Marshall Islands at the last two Olympics, is competing in the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships, which take place from Thursday in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The 23-year-old is signed up to compete in the 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle with her first race on Thursday. Races are swum in a 25 meter ‘short course’ pool at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.

Fgeson trained and coached with Roche while working towards her Masters in Sports Management at Western Illinois University. She works as a graduate assistant at the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf.

Fgeson thought the 2020 Tokyo Olympics might be her last hurray as a competitive swimmer, but she caught a new wave of motivation while training for the Olympics in Florida and connecting with other top swimmers. .

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She wanted to continue her training at WIU and came across the Piranhas Swim Club, which is coached by Roche.

Roche laid out his training plan and Fgeson showed openness as Moline’s trainer mixed up his regimen with longer yardage and different shots. She has been training here since September. Roche said she was right about her fastest times as she balances Finals week and a busy schedule that can start at 4:30 a.m. and end late at night.

Having a two-time Olympic swimmer who holds national records for the Marshall Islands as another coach has been a blessing for Roche.

“Just being around an Olympic swimmer was really exciting for the kids,” he said. “The kids really engage with her and it’s a pleasure to work with her.”

Fgeson was born and raised in the Marshall Islands, an independent country with a population of just under 60,000 near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. Her mother is from the islands and her father is American.

Fgeson earned a swimming scholarship to Lincoln College in Illinois, where she graduated in 2021.

She competed in the 50 freestyle at the 2016 Olympics and the 100 freestyle in 2020. She was her country’s flag bearer in Tokyo and had the Olympic rings tattooed on her neck ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.

With his family still in the Marshall Islands more than 6,000 miles away, Fgeson said coaching the kids provided him with a much-needed mental reset after training and studying.

“I love seeing the kids, they’re crazy about speed and I love coaching them too,” she said. “I didn’t really think I wanted to coach, but coaching them (the Moline girls) made it really fun. With the boys now, it’s been super fun too.

Seeing young swimmers working hard and setting personal bests on the club team has also been an inspiration to Fgeson, who has been swimming internationally since the age of 13.

She now considers the local swimmers like a second family.

“It’s definitely helped me with my mental health, and I think that’s super important,” she said. “Especially with my family who are very far away from me, I kind of see them as family now. Especially coach (and club team chairman) Tom (Roemer) and his family and coach Michael and his family.

Training can be a lonely business. She’s grateful that she doesn’t have to swim alone.

“When you have these people around you, they make practices fun,” she said. “Even before I started with them, when (Roche) was trying to persuade me to come to the Piranhas and train with him, he was telling me that it would be an inspiration if I came with them. But honestly, it is the opposite, they inspired me.

“Because, honestly, if I didn’t have them, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now after Tokyo. I probably would have slowed down; I probably would have stopped at this point because nobody or anything either watching me or helping me. Being with them has been amazing.

Roche is keen on training for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but Fgeson is staying in the moment and taking things day by day.

She hopes to set one or two more Marshall national records with a personal best this weekend, which she said she did in her long swim runs. Her last competitive encounter was the Tokyo Games and she has not competed in short course since the last World Swimming Championships in China in 2018.

“I just have to enjoy the things around me,” she said. “I’m here to have fun and I learned in college and in Florida that you have to have fun. Not everything is business.

Fgeson emphasized how grateful she is to fit in with Moline swimmers and the club team.

“I feel like part of their family now and none of this would have happened without these two,” she said. “I have coach Michael who bends over backwards for me and makes sure I have pool time, even if it means we have to practice 30 minutes early so I can get to work or do that. He also sacrificed a lot for me.


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