Andrew Raynor Dover
By Mike Tarrolly for the Crushing Iron Podcast
I’ve been a Badger fan all my life, so it was very cool to interview former Wisconsin guard, Zak Showalter. I’d heard a recent interview with Zak on The Swing Podcast where he mentioned he’d been bitten by the Ironman bug and would be doing Ironman Wisconsin this year. I thought it would be interesting to get his perspective on how playing the college basketball at the highest level would translate into Ironman training, so a few tweets later we were connected and today we made it happen.
I first heard about Zak from my buddies who were at the Wisconsin State Basketball Championship game and started texting me about the opening tip dunk that blew the roof off the Kohl Center. I knew he was going to Wisconsin and watching this got me very excited he would be a Badger.
It took Zak a while to become an integral part of the Badger line up, but he worked his ass off and eventually started his final two seasons. He was a part of teams that went to four straight Sweet 16’s and two Final Fours while at Wisconsin.
He shared a lot of ways his practicing and learning under Hall of Fame coach Bo Ryan impacted his approach to sport and how that work ethic has carried into triathlon training. We talked about practicing like you play, patience in a game and the season, diet, ups and downs of the grind, how to shed nerves before a big game, training with Michael Jordan’s strength coach, and what it’s like to know and hang out with Packer’s QB Aaron Rodgers.
I’ve always appreciated Zak’s effort on the basketball court and he’s actually been part catalyst for some of my greatest fan moments in sports. For instance, I’ll never forget the Final Four when Wisconsin beat a 38-0 Kentucky team and my buddies and I were there to soak it in. But the moment that really stands out was after the game and being a part of this crowd at the Badger team hotel. It was absolutely packed with fans and the band was on the upper level playing fight songs. After about 30 minutes the players walked in and were all videotaping the moment on their phones. I asked Zak about that experience and he said, “It honestly felt like we were in a movie.” It still gives me chills and Zak looks pretty pumped at the end of this clip.
Zak was a great guest and like most of us who’ve trained for our first Ironman, he’s not really sure what to expect. I’ve always felt like being any kind of athlete in the past helps conquer Ironman, but the reason I think Zak will perform well is his mental toughness. He’s also fearless as you can see in this buzzer beater against Florida in last year’s Sweet 16. It’s a shot made famous because he instinctively looks at Aaron Rodgers and gives him the “Discount Double-Check” belt.
We hope you enjoy our conversation with Zak Showalter. As always, thanks for listening.
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