Getting To Know NCAA Women’s Division I Championships First-Time Qualifiers: Liberty’s Emilie Kaufman

LYNCHBURG, Virginia, March 16. LATER this week, the NCAA women’s Division I swimming and diving championships kicks off in Minneapolis. Several of the 281 swimmers will be experiencing their first championship meet, and we continue our daily Q&A series featuring some of them on

Name: Emilie Kaufman
Year, school: Senior, Liberty
Events she’ll swim: 200 IM, 100 breast, 200 breast

Swimming World: Congratulations on qualifying for the NCAA championships! Not only did you qualify for the meet in the 100 breast with your win at the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association, but you almost broke the one-minute barrier with a 1:00.01. What was your reaction on seeing that time on the scoreboard?

Emilie Kaufman: When I saw the scoreboard displaying 1:00.01, I was excited and a little frustrated. Being that close to breaking the 1:00 barrier made me think about all the little things I could have done to drop .02 more. I was thinking about this right afterwards. Although, I did not let these thoughts get in the way of my excitement too much. I was very excited to secure my place in the NCAA Championships.

SW: Did you feel right away that the time would get you to the NCAAs?

Kaufman: Being aware of the 100 breaststroke swims invited in 2013, I knew right away what my chances were at making it this year. I was confident that my finals swim of 1:00.01 would make the meet because there is no way a time so close to breaking 1:00 could not make it.

SW: What have you been working on to ensure that you see “59” next to your name in Minneapolis?

Kaufman: My focus over the past few weeks has been on my walls, pullouts and dive. If I can maintain turns at 0.9 or 1.0 second, avoid rushing my pullouts, and clean up my head position in my dive I should be set up pretty well to drop a few more hundredths to break 1:00.

SW: How does it feel to be able to close out your college career at the championships?

Kaufman: To wrap up my swimming career at the 2014 NCAA Championships is amazing. The amount of improvement I have made in two short years with my coach Jake Shellenberger is exciting. I had a dream to make this meet and thanks to my collaboration with Jake, it happened. I can only imagine where I would be today if I had had two more years with him as my coach.

SW: You’re going to the meet to also swim on the 200 medley relay. How much time has the team spent working on relay exchanges?

Kaufman: The 200 medley relay is a huge focus for my team going into NCAAs. We have been practicing relay exchanges almost daily in preparation. We run through exchanges multiple times until Jake is satisfied with our practice.

SW: Your teammate, Jess Reinhardt, went to the NCAA championships last year. What have you learned from her about what to expect at the meet?

Kaufman: Jess has shared that there is a lot of fast swimming and that it is an exciting meet to be a part of.

SW: Are you upset that you had to miss spring break and train for the NCAA championships?

Kaufman: I am not upset at all to miss my spring break. I have the rest of my life, post-swimming, to have a good time outside of the pool. Besides, I still get a break from school. What is one more week of training/taper after years of dedication to the sport?

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for and Swimming World Magazine. 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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