The Morning Swim Show, Feb. 29, 2012: Academic Success As Important As Athletic Success at South Carolina

PHOENIX, Arizona, February 29. SOUTH Carolina's women's swimming is the smartest swim team in Division I collegiate swimming, according to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, and on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show, head coach McGee Moody talks about how the team works hard in and out of the pool.

Moody specifically discusses the changes made in regard to study hall time, and how a new donation to the athletic department is helping student-athletes even more. He also discusses his team's success at the recent SEC meet and which swimmers and divers could be going to the NCAA championships. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.

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Morning Swim Show Transcripts
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(Note: This is an automated service where some typos and grammatical errors may occur.)

Peter Busch: Welcome to the Morning Swim Show for Wednesday February 29, 2012. I am your host Peter Busch and in the FINIS Monitor today, we talk to McGee Moody. He is the Head Swim Coach at the University of South Carolina. The Lady Gamecocks just scored huge victory, not the kind we are used to talking about here on the show. McGee Moody joins us right now in the FINIS Monitor from Columbia, South Carolina. Coach welcome to the Morning Swim Show how are you?

McGee Moody: Hey, good. How are you?

Peter Busch: Good thanks for coming on. So last fall your ladies had the highest GPA among all Division 1 schools according to the College Swimming Coaches Association. That is quite an honor, congrats.

McGee Moody: Thank you, thank you very much. They work very hard. They deserve it so.

Peter Busch: I hope there is a nice bonus in your contract for it.

McGee Moody: I don't know. We will have to work on that. I will pass it along though.

Peter Busch: Well tell me where this initiative for the ladies to pay such attention to school as well as the school comes from?

McGee Moody: Well it is never really something we have had to push too hard with, with our team when we came in here. My whole coaching staff comes from a very you know kind of an academic background. We have all coached or gone to very academic universities and it is something that we have always put a lot of emphasis on and so when we came down, one of the first things we talk about every year in our team meetings is what we want to do academically. And they have always been — swimmers are very, very smart students anyway, they are very good students but a couple of years ago we sat down at the end of every year our coachng staff gets together and kind of shuts the door for about two days and just goes over everything top to bottom. My Assistant Coach Abby Steketee, she said you know I think we can do better with our grades in our study hall, and our guys and girls weren't bad. They were pretty good. And so I said you know, "Abby what do you mean?" and she said, "Well, you know let's look at it this way,' and like I said swimmers have always been pretty good students for the most part but what we started to find is as our girls and our guys came in to South Carolina, we had a study hall you know set up where it was more or less you come in and you punch a time card. You study and you leave, and what we were finding out is our guys and girls when they would check out and when they would leave, you know Abby would say, "Hey, you know what did you work on?" Oh I would just study for a test. Well, there wasn't a whole lot behind that, and what we were kind of finding out is because swimmers were such good students that you know as they came through high school, they weren't challenged that much and they got in to college and they figured out that okay wait now you know I got to really get after this, a lot of them didn't know how to study.
So Abby sat down and she said you know, what if we really, if we put in an objective-based study hall so at the beginning of every week what we start doing is going over, and Abby sits down, our academic adviser sits down and goes over objectives with each one of our guys and girls that are in study hall and during that week they have those objectives to accomplish and if it takes them three hours a night or if it takes them 45 minutes a night, when those objectives are complete they are allowed to leave for that evening and what we found is it allowed our athletes to start to really prioritize things that were coming up. These are things that they didn't really know coming in to school, so you know we kind of took that same approach with study hall that we take with training, and that you know it is a very individualized thing and everybody needs to study and learn a little differently just like they need to train a little differently. So it is paying off, our guys and girls team GPAs are higher than they have ever been and like I said we are very proud of our girls for the success that they have had.

Peter Busch: I think it was like a 3.6 overall GPA which means all As and just a few Bs sprinkled in there, excellent, excellent work.

McGee Moody: They did a good job.

Peter Busch: Do you find that it kind of becomes a team pride thing like, 'Hey, let's keep this up,' and the ladies start pushing each other to make sure they go to class and do well at school?

McGee Moody: Yeah, it really is. I mean it is something like I said we don't have to push them very hard anymore. We have some young ladies that choose to stay in study hall as opposed to study on their own because they like the set up. We have a great academic center here 'The Dodie' which was just opened a year ago is a brand new facility and our guys and girls sets up a good study environment there that go over there and they spend their time over there and they focus on what they need to do. So you know it is a point of pride with our girls and our guys. Now, from time to time for men take a little more prodding than our women do but you know both teams doing a good job and they take a lot of pride in what they do. You know one thing we push with them is you know when you come to college one of our rules here is you are not going to just be a swimmer. You don't have college swimming without the college part and so driving that home from day 1 is a big part of it. When they arrive on campus as a freshman it really is kind of giving to them, okay our first priority is academics. We are going to swim fast while we are here. We are going to improve while we are here, but you are going to make the grades and we are going to prepare you to go out and be successful in the future.

Peter Busch: Pretty nice recruiting tool.

McGee Moody: Yeah and it does help. It does help. We have a got a lot of great facilities coming up here but a lady named Dodie Anderson donated the money for our academic center and she went to our athletic director and she said you know what I got a lot of money. I want to donate it to the athletic department but I want it to be for academics. That was her one stipulation and they put together an academic center that is one of the nicest in the country.

Peter Busch: Did the athletic department do anything special to recognize this achievement?

McGee Moody: Well I heard our name all over a lot of the radio stations in town and I know we have had our sports information department throwing it out online. A lot of different things going on, but yeah our athletic director was actually talking about it a little bit last night on his radio show which you know like I said that is a good thing. I have had a lot of people around town to come up and congratulate us and you know and like I said to me this is something — this is equally as important as anything we are going to do in the pool because I think it is important for these young women when they graduate to be well-rounded student-athletes and not forgetting the student part of it so they are getting some recognition for their academics which is good and I think they are really happy about that too.

Peter Busch: That is good to know, I am very happy to hear that. Well tell me about how the swimming part went for you guys at SEC Championships recently and if you have any swimmers qualified for NCAAs?

McGee Moody: Yeah, we are still trying right now. We are moving forward and getting ready for NCAA's we had some good performances. Amanda Rutqvist was probably one of our standout swimmers. She did a good job in 200 breaststroke. She was off a little bit on her time from last year. Last year she was 2:08.3 in the 200 breaststroke at SECs, this year she was 2:09 with which kind of set up the same way where we are really focusing on NCAA's this year and trying to make a big push at that top eight and see what where we can go from there. Courtney Forcucci our top diver won SEC and set a new SEC record on a 3 meter. I'm really proud of her for that. That was something I think she has worked very hard and she has overcome some pretty big adversity. She had a very serious knee injury on the board a couple of years ago and has come back from that. She is getting ready actually to leave to go to zones now. I got some big expectations from her. Well I think Rachel Schaffer will also make it into the meet and we got some big things. I was proud of where we were. I think we got some improving to do. It wasn't our best meet at SEC's. And I think if you go back and you look at the meet as a whole both men and women times were a little bit off where they had been in the past and I think that you know we had so many people in so many different places for training this year just because being an Olympic year and you got British trials coming up and German Nationals and Canadian Nationals so people were all over the board in training. It is interesting to see how things will start to come together towards NCAA's and go on into the long course season for a lot of the SEC schools.

Peter Busch: Well coach good luck the rest of the season and once again, a huge congratulation to you and your team for that wonderful achievement.

McGee Moody: Thank you very much we appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.

Peter Busch: A pleasure, well that is McGee Moody joining us in the FINIS monitor today from the University of South Carolina and that is it for today's show I am Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.

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