Cory Bolleter
Courtesy of: Texas A&M Athletics
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, March 25. SOME of the competitors in this week's NCAA Men's Division I Swimming and Diving Championships won't have far to travel to get to Austin, Texas. Today's athlete in our Q&A series featuring first-time NCAA qualifiers is one of them.

Name: Cory Bolleter
Year, school: Sophomore, Texas A&M

Events he'll swim: 50

Swimming World: What does it mean to know that you are one of the top 20 swimmers in the 50 freestyle in the country as a sophomore?

Cory Bolleter: It's an amazing feeling. I can't even put into words how elated I am to be able to represent my team so well. I believe our team performance this year speaks highly of our great coaching staff and the high level of enthusiasm that this team has to keep improving, and to be one of nine to compete for Texas A&M this year makes me very proud.

SW: What have you been working on to give yourself the opportunity to get a swim in finals in either the 50 or 100 freestyle?

Bolleter: This year Coach (Jay) Holmes and Coach (Ryan) Mallam have put a huge emphasis on dedication, not only to the team but also to our education. We are constantly being reminded that we are students first and athletes second. The team is more motivated than ever, and the emotion in the pool is a great indicator of that. No matter what we're working on that day, all around the pool you will hear us yelling -- mostly kind words -- to each other to keep us motivated. We're always helping each other out with understanding the best way to improve our stroke or to lift more weight in the weight room.

SW: Describe the dynamic among the NCAA team since getting back to College Station after the Southeastern Conference meet.

Bolleter: Ever since we've been back from the Southeastern Conference meet the team has been more energetic than ever. I didn't think it was possible for us to yell louder than we have been all year, but ever since getting back it's as if every person has taken on the energy of the ones who are no longer training with us. Everyone is motivated to drop even more time, and we are all invested on helping each other achieve our goals. It's an amazing feeling to train with these guys.

SW: Describe the feeling of splitting 18.99 in the third leg of the 200 free relay at the SEC meet.

Bolleter: It's difficult to go all year without a time drop, let alone being able to go 19 in an individual race. But, once SEC's came around and my times began to show the hard work that has been put in, I couldn't have been any more excited to go 18.99. I honestly didn't even believe it had happened at first. It was incredible, and seeing my coaches and teammates jumping and yelling was breathtaking!

SW: What was your main focus as a sprinter this season: Getting stronger or working on technical aspects?

Bolleter: It's hard for me to pick which one -- getting stronger or working on technique -- was my main focus, because every day was packed full of both. Going to the weight room and trying to outlift my teammates, and then getting back to the pool and trying to keep good form while attempting to outswim them is tough, but we got it done. For me, I feel as though the technique aspect has had the largest impact on my time drops. I'm no longer swimming as if I'm a foot shorter than I am. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I feel I will be able to focus more on strength next year, now that I have a better technique to build upon.

SW: Describe your routine before a big race.

Bolleter: The team actually likes to joke around about my routine before a big race. There are some people in swimming who try to isolate themselves from others and try to "get in the right mindset" to swim fast. I get in and do the meet warm up that Coach Mallam has been having us work on, and then focus on whatever I think feels a bit off that day, whether it be making sure I'm finishing my stroke, getting a good push out of my turn, or just making sure my legs are ready to go. After warm up I tend to be seen joking around with the team, trying to keep the mood light. For me, it's all about having fun. That's why I swim.

SW: You grew up in San Antonio. With the NCAA meet in Austin, are you expecting to have lots of family coming to cheer for you?

SW: I'm very happy that Austin is as close to San Antonio as it is. My parents, grandmother and siblings (two older brothers and little sister) are all going to be able to come watch us race. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of them in the stands, cheering for Texas A&M and helping to keep the team's energy up.