KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, March 18. OUR daily series featuring first-time NCAA championship qualifiers continues today with a sophomore from the University of Tennessee who will have a busy schedule at the meet in Minneapolis.
Name: Anna DeMonte
Year, school: Sophomore, Tennessee
Events she’ll swim: 200 IM, 100 fly, 200 back
Swimming World: Congratulations on making the NCAA meet! After seeing the Tennessee women’s team place third last year, what kind of work did you put in to put yourself on this year’s NCAA team?
Anna DeMonte: Seeing our team place third last year lit a huge fire in me and I was really inspired to come into this season with even more determination. In training, we take the approach that every practice is an opportunity to get better and to perfect skills, and that really allowed me to see how every part of the workout, whether it be holding technique at the end of a hard set or nailing every turn was helping my visions come to life for the end of the season. Our entire team works so hard throughout the year, so being able to swim next to people who you believe in and who believe in you makes the process fun. Another thing I really worked on was how to control and channel my emotional energy at different critical points. I took a lot of mental notes throughout the year about where my emotions where during meets and found where to conserve the emotions or use them.
SW: You’re swimming the 200 IM, 100 fly and 200 back at the meet. These are three very different events in terms of racing and training. How do you divide your time in training for all three events?
DeMonte: I’m lucky because I have a lot of different things to work on, so there is always room to mix it up. Even if the practice focus isn’t on a particular event, there are still lots of moments to work on details of all three. We did a lot of aerobic and pace work for the IM and backstroke throughout the year, but I didn’t even decide to swim the 100 fly at the SEC meet until we got there! Luckily through IM training I had some fly under my belt, so swimming it there for the second time of the season was really fun. Since SECs, I’ve put a little bit more attention on my fly, but I’m just excited to get another chance at it in Minneapolis.
SW: The Southeastern Conference meet is such an intense conference meet. What did you learn from your performances there, either physically or mentally, that you’ll take with you to NCAAs?
DeMonte: One of the things that is so fun about SECs is the crazy team atmosphere and being able to thrive off each other’s energy. Whenever one of our swimmers was up, there was always a group of bright orange ready to cheer, so standing behind the block and knowing that you’re swimming for your teammates and your school is powerful and provides a huge wave of confidence. That’s something that carried me through SECs that I know will do the same at NCAAs. Also, I learned how much I love the ice baths!
SW: What’s the atmosphere among the Tennessee team in this week before NCAAs?
DeMonte: Everyone is happy, excited and ready to go. The team’s emotional energy levels are high but I think we are doing a great job of conserving (like I was talking about earlier) so that we will be able to unleash it full force when we get to the meet! The Big Orange bulldozer is coming to town!
SW: What pre-race rituals/superstitions will you use in Minneapolis?
DeMonte: I swear by coconut water, so I will definitely be seen drinking mass amounts of it in the days leading up to the meet and during the meet! Also, I don’t know why but I always have to get in for backstroke on the right side of the lane. It started back when I was a summer league swimmer and has stuck with me ever since. Lastly, right before I get on the blocks I usually have a goofy grin on my face!
SW: How does it feel to know that you are one of the fastest college swimmers in the country, with the opportunity to race in one of the most competitive swim meets in the country?
DeMonte: It feels awesome! Everyone on our team has put so much heart into this season, so it’s such an honor to be able to go to a meet like this with them and get up to race some of the best swimmers in the country. I think it’s cool to be able to look on either side of you before a swim and know that your competitors are going to give you a great race.
SW: How will this experience carry over into your junior year?
DeMonte: Having this experience will help me be a better teammate and competitor for next year. Swimming at such a high caliber meet is going to allow me to be more comfortable and confident in my races. It’s also going to help me to better support and encourage our team to achieve more goals in the future.