GAINESVILLE, Florida, March 10. ON the list of athletes set for next week’s NCAA Women’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championships are several swimmers gearing up for their first appearance at the Big Meet. For all of them, it’s been a long season of working toward the ultimate goal of representing their university on the biggest stage. Swimming World is reaching out to several of them to get their thoughts on competing at what is regarded as the toughest meet in the country, and we’ll bring you their responses each day leading up to the NCAA meet.
Name: Jordan Smith
Year, school:Junior, University of Florida
Events she’ll swim at NCAAs: 500 free, 400 IM, 1650 free
Swimming World: Congratulations on qualifying for the NCAA championships! You made a big time drop in the 400 IM – from 4:14.00 to 4:12.63 – at the last chance meet. What part of the race most helped you drop more than a second off your best time?
Jordan Smith: It was a really close race with three of us, which definitely helped me swim fast. When you’re in a good race like that, the time usually comes with it, and I was just focused on getting my hand on the wall.
SW: After the swim, what was your confidence level in terms of knowing that your time was going to get to the NCAA meet?
Smith: My confidence was higher after the swim because the time was better, but both my coaches and I knew it was going to be really close, so it wasn’t for sure until they sent out the official list a few days later.
SW: What do you attribute to getting your first NCAA invite in your junior year?
Smith: I would have to say consistently working hard in practice. Having coaches that are willing to push you past what you thought you’re capable of, and having such a great team to train with has really helped me improve over the last couple years.
SW: How have the NCAA meet veterans on the Florida team been preparing you for what to expect at the meet?
Smith: This is the meet we train for all year, so by us all keeping that in mind as we prepare for the meet, along with knowing that we are ready and have put in the work, I can go into it expecting to race as it’s just another meet to perform at.
SW: How has working with IM great Elizabeth Beisel helped you improve your own racing and training for the individual medley?
Smith: It has definitely been such a great opportunity to have been able to train with her the last couple years. Beisel is a great trainer, and when we do IM sets I know I’ll always have someone there to race against and in return help me push myself in practice, which is what helps me swim fast in races.
SW: What do you like about racing the 400 IM?
Smith: I like that the 400 IM always makes for a good race. Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses throughout the swim, as you have to be good at all the strokes, and it’s always interesting to see how it plays out.
SW: What will you take away from this season in terms of training and/or racing that you will carry over to your senior year?
Smith: Having the experience of racing at this level brings more confidence to race at this level again. Of course, we’ll keep training and working hard, and next year I’ll be able to help anyone in a similar position as I was. The whole experience has been so exciting and going into my senior year gives me motivation to finish out my college career strong.