Mike Rouleau, Maple Grove swimming
Maple Grove senior Mike Rouleau last swam in a meaningful meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center as an eighth-grader in March 2010.
Rouleau handled the leadoff leg of the Crimson’s 200-yard medley relay at the Class 2A state meet. Then he was gone for the next three seasons, opting to swim with club teams.
Rouleau returned to high school varsity swimming this season, becoming one of the metro area’s strongest performers in the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle events. He helped Maple Grove earn a wild card spot in the Class 2A True Team state meet, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at that same aquatic center. In the True Team format, every swimmer contributes points.
Rouleau, who will swim in college for Missouri University of Science & Technology, spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about coming back to the team and how the True Team state meet adds some midseason excitement.
Q: Different programs have different philosophies regarding True Team. What does it mean for Maple Grove to reach the state meet?
A: You know, going into the True Team section meet, our coach, Ron Jacobsen, talked about how we are all tired. Last week was the first time we were able to swim in practice for five consecutive days since the first week of the season. So we’re all really tired. We weren’t expecting everyone to get their best times or anything but we were expecting to get up and race.
Q: So there was a lot of pride on display.
A: Certainly. One of my favorite quotes that came from a previous coach was, ‘You don’t have to feel good to swim fast.’ We put that to the test in the section meet.
Q: Does being in the True Team state meet add some juice to this portion of the season?
A: I would say definitely. We’ve achieved a goal, and we feel a lot more invigorated to go out and chase down our other goals now.
Q: You made it to the end of the year state meet as an eighth-grader with Maple Grove then left. Where were you swimming?
A: I decided some of my goals were elsewhere. So I swam club with New Hope-Crystal-Plymouth, went to nationals and traveled around a lot, swimming competitively.
Q: What brought you back to varsity swimming?
A: A variety of reasons. Probably foremost because I’ve got a lot of friends that I wanted to be back with. I was also looking for a little different type of training and coach Jacobsen has provided that.
Q: You talked about being tired after last week’s practice schedule. But is there something to be gained from the work?
A: Certainly. A few days ago we were working out with kettle bells. The person who works with us asked one of our assistant coaches, ‘Are you seeing a difference in the water?’ He responded, ‘Yeah, they look a lot stronger.’ I certainly feel it.
Q: True Team state is a different animal from the end of the year state meet. But is there value in swimming at the same venue?
A: Very much so. Especially with the new blocks down there. A lot of guys haven’t had as many opportunities. So the more we can get down there and get experience, the better for everyone.