Photo provided by Henry Pratt
The women’s and men’s swim teams just finished their regular season with the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) meet in a culmination of their nine-month season. This is an opportunity for swimmers to build on their times from throughout the season and to make a final effort to get a time good enough to be considered for Nationals. To see how the season went for the Tigers, I chatted with sophomore Mabel Fowler and senior Paige Johnson to hear their thoughts on the season and their possible national tournament spots.
AUSTIN DAVIDSON: So, since you just finished off the regular season, how did the season go for you? Was it what you expected it to be? Did you set any goals?
MABEL FOWLER: Overall, I am really happy with how the season went. I’m happy with how the team performed, and I think we all tried our hardest. Personally, I had some goals set that I didn’t exactly achieve at conference, but I swam some good times at the Tiger Invite, one of our first big meets in November.
PAIGE JOHNSON: Every season I have set goals for myself, and normally they are pretty high, and I hadn’t made any of them for the past three years. But finally, at the Tiger Invite, I met my goal time in the relay, and it was really exciting. I did a lot to work for this time, doing extra workouts with the extra time I have being a senior and just focusing more on swimming. So, throughout the rest of the season, it was more fun in a sense due to me seeing I could get the times I wanted to. And it’s great that a goal I’ve had all four years has been to go to nationals, and this year we have a really good shot *Knock on wood.*
AD: How did the SCAC meet go for you?
PJ: I set my goals pretty high for the meet and I met them, but not in the way I expected. I ended up breaking the school record for the 100meter backstroke. I was really surprised by that since I thought I was going to get the 100 fly school record, but regardless, I was thrilled to do it.
MF: It was a really fun meet, and I swam some decent times, but they weren’t the ones I wanted to swim. They weren’t bad times, but not what I had in mind.
AD: How do you get into the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] Tournament?
MF: Whether you get in is based on your best time from the entire season. For me, my best time [was] at Tiger Invite, all the way back in November. Those times have me nationally ranked [sixth], but I didn’t get to beat those times at Conference. But it’s okay because my best times give me a good shot of getting into the NCAA. The top 16 or 20 in each event get picked to go to Nationals; the number depends on how people are swimming that year. But we won’t know if we made it until all the different conferences have finished swimming.
AD: Do y’all have a pretty good shot of making it to the tournament?
PJ: Our coach sent us this long text pretty much explaining all the math of how we get in or not. He thinks we will be top 20, which means we make it in. Realistically, we have a good shot of making it. There are four schools we are keeping an eye on right now — MIT, Washington University, Bowdoin and University of Chicago — waiting for how they swim, and that does decide to an extent whether we make it or not.
AD: What has helped y’all this season in getting to this point of practically being picked for nationals? Has it been the team or you or a mix of both?
MF: I think the team has really helped. We are all really good at having a lot of fun on the team while also being incredibly competitive. Whenever we get up on the blocks, we want to win. There are days when we divide the team up into maroon versus white, and everyone loves each other, but everyone wants to win.
PJ: I just love the team so much. Whenever I see them around campus, my heart just gets happy. Our first-year class and sophomore class has really pushed the team to not only have fun with swimming, but also [expect] more from ourselves.
If Mabel, Paige and their fellow Tigers get the call up to nationals, they will be flying out to Greensboro, North Carolina on March 20. When the time comes, we will all be rooting for them as they leap into the chlorinated blue.