ORLANDO, Florida, March 20. WE’RE one week away from the start of the NCAA men’s Division I swimming and diving championships, and several athletes will be competing in the season-ending meet for the first time. We continue our daily series today with a distance swimmer in search of a lap counter.
Name: Mitchell Huxhold
Year, school: Junior, CSU-Baksersfield
Events he’ll swim: 200, 500, 1650 freestyles
Swimming World: You’re the first swimmer from CSU-Bakersfield to qualify for the Division I NCAA championships, a remarkable feat in the program’s fourth year in Division I. What does it mean to you to be the first of hopefully many more to follow?
Mitchell Huxhold: For me, making it to NCAA has always been a goal after my freshman year when I believed I could make it. Making it was accomplishing this goal and was the next step in my progress in swimming. I think it will bring in more talented athletes to the school and help to put CSUB on the map for a school with great athletic programs.
SW: How much of an adjustment to your training did you make after the conference meet to get ready for the NCAA championships?
Huxhold: Well, once we got back we had to start doing long sets right away to get my base back up. And then we are going to have a 2-3 day shorter rest than for conference. The training was similar to before conference, not going to make any major changes right before a large meet, when the training that we did before worked.
SW: Training for the 500 and 1650 is not easy to do alone. I hope you’ve recruited some teammates to swim with you in the past few days.
Huxhold: The whole team is on break right now so I train alone for the most part. We have one girl who is training for a meet in Canada as well as one swimmer who redshirted last year that is in the water with me. Neither do my sets, but having them in the pool is enough for me. I have done lots of training alone during the summer.
SW: You’re also involved in open water swimming. What attracted you to that?
Huxhold: Last summer I got invited to USA Swimming’s (open water) select camp. This camp taught me a lot about the strategy that is involved in open water. I have not been able to do an open water race since the camp and I am looking forward to doing one over the summer.
SW: What’s the major difference between training for a race in the pool and a race in open water?
Huxhold: Training open water is not much different than (training) for the mile. It comes down to the strategy in the race. Racing open water has a lot more strategy in it than swimming in the pool. It is less about “how fast you are.” Not saying you can be out of shape or anything, but you don’t have to be the fastest in the world to win open water. You have to be able to outsmart your competitors and that’s what I like the most about open water.
SW: When you look back on this season, what will stand out the most in terms of the key to getting you to the NCAAs?
Huxhold: The past two years during our winter training I have always shut down mentally because I get broken down. But this year I was able to swim decent most of the camp and I think it led to me being able to hold my pace and not fall off the last 500 (of the 1650).
SW: Since you’ll be the only CSUB swimmer at the NCAAs, should we try to recruit someone to count for you during the 500 and 1650?
Huxhold: I was hoping it was something like (Olympic) Trials where they provided officials to count and watch the lanes. If this is not the case I am not sure what I am going to do about counting. So it would be helpful if you could get a counter for me!