Getting To Know First-Time NCAA Women’s Division I Qualifiers: Princeton’s Nikki Larson

Photo Courtesy: Beverly Schaefer

PRINCETON, New Jersey, March 15. THE NCAA women’s Division I swimming and diving championships will include several first-time qualifiers, and we are featuring some of them in our daily Q&A series in the days leading up to the Big Meet.

Name: Nikki Larson
Year, School: Sophomore, Nikki Larson
Events she’ll swim: 100 and 200 butterfly

Swimming World: You’re going to be swimming in the NCAA championships in Minneapolis, not far from where you grew up in Edina. I would imagine you’re going to have one of the largest cheering contingents there. How many family members are coming to watch you swim?

Nikki Larson: I’m not sure yet! I think my family is excited to have the meet close to home. My parents and sister have tickets and extended family has been talking about it too, so hopefully I’ll see them there.

SW: How does knowing that you’ll be racing in a pool you’ve swum in many times before help ease the stress of preparing for this meet?

Larson: I anticipate a lot of aspects about next week to be different than meets I’ve swam in before – it’s a higher level of competition and a different mentality. With that in mind, familiarity with the pool will be a good reminder that no matter the circumstance, these are still the same races I’ve swum since I was younger.

SW: How did you feel about your chances to qualify for the NCAAs after winning the Ivy League title in the 100 fly?

Larson: I wasn’t really sure! Making the meet is very dependent on how other swimmers do in comparison. With so many conference meets that and the following weekend we could only speculate, but I had high hopes!

SW: You’re swimming the 100 fly and 200 fly at NCAAs. Which one are you most looking forward to swimming?

Larson: I’m looking forward to both of them for different reasons. While the 100 fly is a fun event for me because I can just race, the 200 is something I’ve been perfecting this year and I think there’s room for improvement from my Ivies swim. I’m excited to see how that plays out.

SW: You’ll be at the meet with senior teammate Lisa Boyce. What words of wisdom has she given you about preparing for this intense meet?

Larson: Just not to get overwhelmed. Lisa is really good at getting in the right mentality for her races regardless of the circumstance. Watching her perform at dual meets, Ivies, and ECACs this year I’ve learned how important it is to focus on what you need to do and let things fall into place. Aside from that, she has just been really supportive – after the 100 fly at Ivies she was the first person to congratulate me and bring up the possibility of NCAAs. Her sharing my excitement throughout the season has made it that much more fun and it will be great to have her in Minnesota as someone who has been to the meet before.

SW: What aspects of butterfly are you specifically working on this week in preparation for NCCAs?

Larson: My coaches have put a lot of emphasis on “swimming smart” this season – learning to pace my races correctly so I don’t go out too fast or too slow. That’s been a continued theme in practice the past two weeks in anticipation of NCAAs.

SW: Though the rest of the Princeton women’s team isn’t going to NCAAs, how have they supported you and Lisa in these final days before you depart for Minneapolis?

Larson: Before I looked at the invitation list myself, I had congratulatory texts from members of both the men’s and women’s teams. They’re really supportive and excited for both of us. Since we’re in the off-season now training isn’t mandatory, but a lot of our teammates have been coming to practice anyways. Having more people to practice with has made continuing to train for the meet fun.

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the host of several shows on SwimmingWorld.TV, including "The Morning Swim Show," which features interviews with people making headlines in aquatic sports. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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