Rick Colella: Olympian and Washington Masters Swimmer

Adapted from an interview by P2LIFE

Rick Colella

Rick Colella

Rick swam with his Masters team in the recent USMS Spring National Championships in Riverside, California.  He is an Olympic bronze medalist, known for his signature 200-meter breaststroke.  Rick competed in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics and now swims with a team in Washington State that trains to compete in Masters meets year-round.  He holds over 50 world records and was awarded the David Yorzyk Memorial Award* in 2008.

Rick started swimming when he was 8 years old on a small swim team in the summer, and then moved on to a year-round swim team.  He kept improving throughout high school, where he became involved with heavy duty training.  Heavy volume was the style of training, and it was an era when the volume just kept increasing.

After high school, Rick went to college at the University of Washington and participated at the NCAA level of swimming.  In his last year of college, he swam the 200-meter breaststroke at the 1972 Olympics but was disappointed when he placed 4th.  Then, in 1976, he won the bronze medal at the Olympics.

What made him go to the 1976 Olympics, rather than quit after the 1972 Olympics?  It was a desire to keep up with his sister, Lynn, who won a silver medal in the 1972 Olympics!

At that time, it was much harder to stay in the sport after college.  With no sponsors and no money, he had to live with his parents so he could swim.  Then, at age 24, he was one of the oldest people on the team.

Rick retired from swimming for about 10 years after winning the Bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics, but still occasionally swam Masters.  He was training only 1-2 hours a week and not swimming any meets.  Then he started swimming Masters again in 1990, at Lake Washington Masters, where he now trains once a day, 6 days a week.  The coach, Becca Watson, has the team doing heavy volume in fall and winter, then more quality and sprints in spring and summer.  The quality work has helped Rick tremendously in the past few years.


*The David Yorzyk Award was created in 1985 by Mani Sanguily in honor of David Yorzyk, a young swimmer who tragically lost his life in 1984 at the age of 19.  David Yorzyk was an up and coming swimmer whose expertise was the 400 IM.  His father, Bill Yorzyk, was well known for his butterfly mechanics and performance at the 1956 Olympics.

The award was presented annually to the swimmer who performed the most outstanding 400-yard individual medley at the Short Course National Championships.  This award was discontinued in 2010.

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