Hike Harder, Do Better
Hike Harder, Do Better
Juan Maegli, two-time Olympian and the 2013 College Sailor of the Year, managed to balance an Olympic campaign with a successful college sailing career. His secrets? First, if you don’t feel like sailing at 100 percent, don’t sail at all; second, invest in a hiking bench.
You took a year off after high school to do the Beijing Olympics, then were at Charleston for two years, then took two years off to train for the London Olympics before coming back for this past year. How has the coming and going from college been for you?
JM: It’s weird, but it’s the only way I can manage to do it. I wouldn’t want to go to the Olympics if I didn’t feel well-prepared for it, and the only way I can prepare for it is by taking some time off—you know, I did two years of full-time training for the Olympics, but people I’m competing against are doing four, six years or whatever. So it’s the best way I felt like I could prepare, but ideally I would like to take more. Hopefully, for the next Olympics I can do that.
You’re only 24, and you’ve already competed in the Olympics twice. How does that feel?
JM: I was the last boat to qualify for Beijing. I was a Hobie 16 sailor before—I sailed catamarans—and I [won gold at the] 2007 Pan Am games in September. After that, I wanted to sail Tornadoes, but they had taken them off for the London Olympics, so I just started sailing Lasers. I said, ‘I’m going to try to sail for three months and go to the Olympic qualifiers; try to do well so I can get a wildcard,’ and I ended up being the last boat to qualify.
You have improved incredibly quickly in different boats and conditions throughout your sailing career. What would you attribute this adaptability to?
JM: I grew up sailing by myself, starting in Optis, and then in Hobie Cats, I was the only boat here in Guatemala, so a lot of the training I do is by myself. I guess I got pretty good at knowing if I was doing something good or bad by feel, not by reference with other boats. So I guess that’s why I can jump into a new boat and get the hang of it pretty quickly, and I can see that now that I’ve begun to sail Moths.
Do you have any advice for college sailors who are also thinking of trying an Olympic campaign?
JM: After Beijing I wasn’t very good at Lasers or anything; I was very weak, my fitness wasn’t very good. I trained really hard when I was at college, and even though I probably sailed only five or six times in the Laser [that year], when I went to Europe for the summer, I had improved so much just because I was fitter. If you know you’re going to be doing an Olympic campaign, try to get very fit. Being in college helps with that, because a lot of the sailing teams work out, and then you’ll be sailing every day, pretty much. That gives you the opportunity to work on technical stuff, like starting and mark rounding—it doesn’t really matter what boat it is, it’s still that repetition.
Do you have any specific fitness tips for college sailors trying to get in top shape?
JM: One thing I do a lot that I’m always surprised that other people don’t do as much is hiking bench. Especially while I’m at college and not sailing the Laser that much for long periods of time, I do a lot of hiking bench—probably five or six times a week … if you can do a few sets here and there, it’s very helpful. I [have] a Laser hiking bench [at my house], which is a lot harder than other hiking benches, but they say if you normally hike at like 70% or whatever of what you can hike, I’ll try to do sets of 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off--but in those 45 seconds I’m hiking 100% and max out. When I’m fit, I’ll do 40 of those. It depends on the day. Or sometimes, instead of 45 seconds on, I’ll do 30 seconds on, but with 10 kilos, or something like that. Every day is different.
Do you ever get burnt out or tired of sailing?
JM: Not really. I try to mix it up with the sailing I do. I sail a Laser and I sail catamarans, and then with college sailing and with the Moth and everything, I sail a lot of different classes, and I don’t really get too tired of it. But I know that if I’m here in Guatemala and I’m going to go sailing just for the sake of going sailing, if I’m not really into it, I’d much rather just take the day off; it’s better. So I’ve never been at a point where I’m so tired that I never want to sail, or I want to take a long break or anything.