Revolution Switzerland met up with Maurice Lacroix brand ambassador and Olympic swimmer, James Magnussen, to talk about watches, swimming and the notion of time underwater. Magnussen is also the handsome guy on this December’s cover, so look out for him in newsagents across Switzerland wearing the sporty Masterpiece Le Chronographe Squelette and the range of Pontos timepieces in and out of the water.
How did your collaboration with Maurice Lacroix come about?
As my career has developed and I have become more mature, I have developed a taste for luxury items, like watches. Maurice Lacroix is a great fit for me because it is a growing brand in Australia. The first watch that I chose was the Pontos S which is sporty and stylish and matched my lifestyle and the image that I was trying to project. It has been a really natural fit and I think that we are both confident in each other.
Which watch or watches do you like the most from the brand?
The two watches that I am wearing at the moment are the Pontos Diver S and the Pontos S on a steel bracelet. I have always used watches. For my birthday when I was younger I got a surf watch because I surfed all the time and was always at the beach. And then later, when I started to go to more corporate events; I began to watch what people were wearing. And now I am really proud to have a watch sponsor and be a watch ambassador and to be able to wear nice watches day to day. I feel really privileged.I think for men there are only so many items we can accessorize with and watches are really a statement piece for a man, they tell a story about where they are at in their life.
How governed is your life by time?
Time is everything for me, it starts from waking up early in the morning, to getting to training on time, my whole week is full of appointments that I have to constantly be on time for—massage, physiotherapy, meetings with management, meetings with sponsors, appearances, interviews. I am constantly checking the time. Time and my life go hand in hand and of course the sport I do is purely based on time.
Maurice Lacroix’s brand ambassador and Olympic Swimmer, James Magnussen, gets in the water for Revolution Switzerland’s December 2013 cover.
How does time feel when you are training and racing?
It is funny, some mornings I will do a two or three hour training session and it will feel like 20 minutes, and the time will fly by and I will have a great time. And then sometimes in a race, at the end of 100 meters, the last 15 meters, which only really takes about 10 seconds, feels like it takes hours. The pain and the anguish to get to the end, the pressure, it feels like it goes forever. And then there are races that feel so easy and effortless and you feel like you have barely dove into the water and you are finishing. When you swim, there is no body weight, so it puts you in such a relaxed state that your mind starts thinking about all sorts of stuff. When I train I think about all kinds of things, I sing songs in my head and I think about what I am going to do that day, and what is coming up. Swimming is a really funny one with time as it is hard to get a perception of time when you are in the water as it is not really a natural place for humans.
Do you know and feel when you are fast?
Yes, a lot more in training than in racing because we do so much repetitive stuff in training I can gauge my pace, but in a race I’ll know if it’s a 47 or a 48 or a 49, but I won’t know what tenth or hundredth of a second it is.
So when you won the 100 meters recently in Barcelona, did you know you had won, or did you not know until you put your head out of the water?
That race was so close I didn’t know. It was a crazy race where the lead changed. Because there is so much splash and because you are concentrating on your lane, you can see shapes, but you don’t really know, so you touch and look up at the board and then it takes a while to concentrate on the board because you are so tired and then you see and it is a mix of relief and excitement.
You overtook everyone during the last 15 meters, where did you find the resources to find the energy to do that?
I drew on all my experiences from the past 12 months. I have had rather a roller coaster ride since the last world championships, two years ago, and now I have gained a lot of experience and learned a lot of lessons, and I drew on that over the last fifteen meters to get me to the wall.
You hold the fastest time in a textile suit of 47.10 set at the Australian Championships in 2012, which is a little confusing, with the bodysuit times. Are there two records now?
No, technically there is only one world record and that is by a Brazilian guy in the full bodysuit. Those were the rules at that time but they have since changed. So it is like saying that the Formula One’s used to have x amount of horsepower, but now we have brought them back to much less horsepower, but the old records still stand. But I think it is a good thing, the sport is a lot more natural now without the suits and it has given me a tough target to chase. If I can ever break it, it is going to be a huge achievement for me and a really big leap forward for the sport.
Is that your goal?
Yes, the record is 46.91 and my best is 47.10. It is a matter of centimeters.
How much training will it take to make up this fraction of a second?
It is kind of tough because you really only get two opportunities each year to break a world record and you are tapered, which means that you are in the right state to race. I have been chasing it for a little while now and I am pretty close. It is a lot more work than you would think would go into point one or two of a second.
What has been the secret to your success?
I think for someone my age it is about putting aside distractions. Most people my age are partying a lot, drinking, so I have been able to put aside that distraction as much as possible and focus on my swimming. I left home when I turned 18 and moved to Sydney to train and just really put the rest of my life on hold and focused all my energy on my swimming. I pretty much made the Australian team straight away when I was 18 and since then things have moved so fast that it hasn’t been that hard for me to keep focused on swimming because there is always another meet around the corner.
What is the next goal for you?
I have the Commonwealth Games next year and the last time I was in the Commonwealth Games I was in the games but didn’t have an individual swim, I was part of a relay that won gold. This time round I would like to get an individual gold and obviously the real Olympics are a big one for me and it is a long time to wait. I am striving towards that and I am striving towards going one better than I did in London. There is also that world record that is always teasing me so I keep chasing it. I am always setting myself goals. When I set goals they sometimes seem unobtainable, but I chip away at them and I keep setting bigger and better goals.
So who is your fiercest competitor right now?
Swimming is different because we have our own lanes there is no fighting! I guess Nathan Adrian from America beat me at the Olympics. I beat him in Shanghai and again in Barcelona so that has been a really interesting rivalry. Obviously César Cielo from Brazil has the world record and so I really want to break that, so he is obviously another close competitor.
Do you get on well with them all when you are at meets, or do you keep yourselves to yourselves?
I have some friends in the sport but for the really tough competitors, I think it is better to keep them as competitors.
If I was a magic fairy with a magic wand and I could change something in swimming for you, what would you wish for?
I think worldwide exposure would be good, swimming is slowly spreading to other countries, which is really exciting, but I think it could move even faster, which would be great for the sport. The more countries that become good at swimming, the better it is for the sport, the more money that can come to the sport, and the more success different countries will get. Swimmers from America and Europe often say to me that they can’t believe how well known I am in Australia, they walk down the street in their own countries and no one knows who they are. So I think that for the sport to spread completely globally to places like Africa and South America, and more into Central Europe and Central Asia, would be great for the sport.