Betsey Armstrong Video Interview, U.S. Olympic Water Polo Goalkeeper
U.S. Olympic Water Polo team goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong, 29, made 53 saves during the Olympics as the U.S. went on to capture gold for the first time in the sport. For her part, Armstrong was named Goaltender of the Tournament.
“You’re heart’s racing; it brings tears to your eyes,’’ the Ann Arbor, Mich., native told the Detroit Free Press. “To be up there with these 12 other girls, to hear the anthem played for us and everything we’ve gone through together and what we built as a team, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Armstrong’s entry into water polo began in high school. “My older sister played and I wanted to do everything that she did, so I kind of tagged along,” she told Uinterview exclusively. “I think my favorite part about the team and why I stuck with it is just being on a team and being part of a team sport and getting to hang out with your friends every day.”
Having received a silver medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, Armstrong went into the London Olympics fully prepared for the experience that awaited her. “I find myself much more relaxed, much more able to enjoy the process,” she told Uinterview. "That isn't to say I'm not focused or concentrated about the upcoming games, but prior to Beijing I was just a total mess, nerves-wise. It's kind of cool to go through the process again and have some confidence from my past experience and enjoy it a little bit more."
After the Olympics, it was announced that Armstrong’s alma mater, the University of Michigan, had hired her as an assistant coach for their water polo team. “Betsey is going to be an incredible spokesperson for Michigan and for our program,” said head coach Matt Anderson. “It's nice to have someone like her have a chance to share her experiences, talent and expertise with our current players and with the future players we will bring in.”
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Right now we're going pretty full time to prepare for London. We're going six days a week. We spend a lot of time in the pool, obviously. We go 7:00 to 10:00 in the morning, 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday we go 8:00 to 11:00, and that's all in the pool. Saturday we go about 8:00 to 11:00, and that's all in the water as well. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday we're in the weight room first thing in the morning where we do a lot of Olympic free weight lifting. And then we'll get in the pool and just do conditioning, a lot of swimming. A lot of leg drills, and then mostly the afternoon sessions are water polo, so it would be a lot of technical and tactical stuff. A lot of shooting, game situations, scrimmaging, that sort of stuff.
In the morning, my alarm goes off just before 6:00. Coffee first thing, making sure I'm eating a good breakfast — that's usually oatmeal. Gotta get to the pool by 7:00 to get to the weight room. So I think having that routine and being able to sit and make breakfast and have a few minutes in the morning is really important. You know, just to kind of allow you to take in what's in front of you for the day, and not just for the day or the week, but for the upcoming month as well.
We're very conscious of what we eat all the time. We work with a nutritionist and we're just making sure we're always getting the right percentages of protein and carbs, and if you have a big game coming up, say on the weekend, you've just got to make sure that every meal you eat throughout the week is balanced. You're getting the right recovery of nutrients after a big workout. Usually before a meal it'll be a pasta meal, something easy to digest. And once I'm done playing in London I think I'll probably just not pay quite so close attention all the time. There isn't one thing in particular, but you know probably I'll allow myself to eat pizza or cheeseburgers a little bit more frequently.
I started playing water polo when I was in high school. My older sister played and I wanted to do everything that she did, so I kind of tagged along. I think my favorite part about the team and why I stuck with it is just being on a team and being part of a team sport and getting to hang out with your friends every day.
You know, I think so far it's just paid dividends already going through this whole experience to London. I find myself much more relaxed, much more able to enjoy the process. That isn't to say I'm not focused or concentrated about the upcoming games, but prior to Beijing I was just a total mess, nerves-wise. It's kind of cool to go through the process again and have some confidence from my past experience and enjoy it a little bit more.
I think, you know, gold is always a focus for any Olympian going into the games, in particular for the water polo program. But I think that having that experience and being so close makes me realize how quickly it can change and how you need to be focused every game, every moment, starting from the first one you play. So I'm looking to go into the tournament really focusing on our opponent and our task one day at a time, one game at a time, and hopefully by the end I'll be able to focus on that still.