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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 20. PLENTY of student-athletes chatted with the assorted media tonight, and here’s some of the quotes that came out of the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships.
Maddy Schaefer, member of Stanford’s 200-yard freestyle relay championship team
Brittany MacLean, Georgia, 500-yard freestyle champion
Maya DiRado, Stanford, 200-yard IM champion and member of 400-yard medley relay
Olivia Smoliga, Georgia, 50-yard freestyle champion
Laura Ryan, Georgia, 1-meter diving champion
Maddy Schaefer, Junior, Stanford
Member of the 200-Yard Freestyle Relay NCAA Championship Team
On her team winning the 200-yard freestyle relay…
It was great. It really made us all so excited for this weekend. It was so much fun. I am so happy for our team. I am pretty sure our coach is going to tell us to carry the same energy that we had today into tomorrow morning. It is really important to bring the same energy from the finals into the morning prelims.
Your goals for the team…
I think top four would be great, but I think we can do better than that given how we did tonight. We are just going to do our best and whatever place we get we will be happy with.
Brittany MacLean, Sophomore, Georgia
500-yard Freestyle NCAA Champion
On if she knew she was in the lead at the end of the race…
I had no idea. I saw (Missy Franklin) and I knew she was still ahead of me, but I just knew that I was going to give it everything I had in the last 25 meters. I just put my head down and tried to touch the wall first, and it worked out.
On what she was thinking in the last 50 meters of the race…
I tried to keep a smart level of legs in the beginning. I’m aware that I don’t have a six-speed, but I at least tried to keep them in the mix for a while, and tried to build into the race a bit. Everyone in that last 50 gave it everything they had and, luckily, I had a bit left in my tank and I’m really happy with it.
On her improvement from last season…
I had a bit of a tough year last year. I came into the beginning of the year pretty injured and I didn’t get in the training I would have liked. I am one of those swimmers that gains confidence when I know I’ve done the work. So, I was just so excited to be part of the NCAA team and I was hoping that once I got healthy I would be a bigger player. I can’t thank my team and my coaches enough because they were so motivating to me and believed in my even when I didn’t even really believe in myself.
Maya DiRado, Senior, Stanford
200-yard Individual Medley NCAA Champion
Member of the 400-yard Medley Relay NCAA Champion Team
On how the Cardinal is feeling after winning three events on opening day…
That was as great as that session could go, and we are all really excited. It just speaks to how well our coaches prepared us and how well the team is coming together.
On how she prepared herself to get on the podium in the 200 IM…
I looked back at the way I swam the 200 IM last year. I went out super hard and I knew I had to work on that. So, this whole year we worked on my splits and I was a lot more calm and controlled, and it all came together.
On when she knew she could win the race…
Greg (Meehan) told me before the race that if it was close to really push my last underwater in the final turn. I felt really good in the first 25, I hit my turn really well and did some underwater, and then I heard the crowd, put my head down and it all worked out.
Olivia Smoliga, Freshman, Georgia
50-yard Freestyle Champion
Thoughts on today…
We got so fired up after Brittany’s 500. That was such an intense race. It got us all pumped up.
Adjustment period during your freshman year…
I feel like my club team and high school team prepared me really well, but it was hard adjusting for the first month or two months. But you work really hard for it and this is where it all pays off, tonight. It was really exciting. The teams and coaches are awesome. We have so much support and my parents and brother are here as well, so that is really exciting. It is great being part of such a great group of girls and program. I am just so lucky to be here.
How you prepared for the 50…
I went in kind of early to the ready room. I wanted to clear my mind of everything. It was really nerve-wracking, but I love finals and thrive off of that and was pumped up.
Laura Ryan, Senior, Georgia
1-meter Diving NCAA Champion
On how she feels after winning the first diving event of the Championships…
I am honestly still in shock. Coming into that event, I had no expectations, so to come out on top like that in my old home pool – I can’t even describe how that feels.
On her hometown cheering section…
That was the greatest cheering section I have ever had. Not only from all of the swimmers, but all of my family was here. They all live in Minnesota, so to be able to win it in front of them in my senior year just feels so special.