Notes from Pre-Meet Press Conferences at Women’s NCAAs

Photo Courtesy: Kayla Simon

Editorial content for the NCAA Division I Championships is sponsored by Nike Swim.

By David Rieder

GREENSBORO − A line of five swimmers and divers sat at the podium for the pre-meet press conferences at women’s NCAAs, but the media assembled wanted to talk to the one in the yellow shirt on the far right: Missy Franklin. Franklin had long since made clear that these NCAAs would be her final collegiate meet, and she backed up that statement the day before the first race.

“This will be my last collegiate meet, as many of you know,” said Franklin in her opening statement. “These past two years, they’ve been amazing. I can’t believe how fast they’ve flown by.”

Franklin, who last year won the 200 free in a new American and NCAA record time of 1:40.31, spoke glowingly of the memories she will keep from her college swimming years and of the growth she experienced at Cal. She said that she has had no qualms about her decision to leave school after two years since that was the path she and her parents agreed upon after the 2012 Olympics. “Part of what’s made this decision easier is that this has been the plan all along,” said Franklin.

Amid speculation of where she will train after she turns professional, Franklin refused to speculate. “Looking forward, I’m thinking about the next three days,” said Franklin. “That’s what I’ve been working for for the past two years, and this is what it’s about right now. That’s what my team deserves; that’s what I deserve.

As for the meet itself, Franklin said she would enjoy swimming different events from last year, subtracting the 100 and 500 free from last year’s meet and adding the 200 back and 200 IM. She added, though, that her most important priority in her event schedule was filling needs for her team. “You all get to see my breaststroke, so that’s gonna be pretty great,” joked Franklin.

Retirement Announcement

For most swimmers, the road comes to an end after the NCAA Championships their senior year. And one swimmer admitted today that she will indeed be done after the next three days of competition. “I actually just decided, within the last couple of weeks, that this will be my last meet ever,” said Georgia senior Amber McDermott.

“So yeah, I kinda want to go out with a bang,” said McDermott. “I only have four days left of swimming, so I might as well make them the best ones.”

Afterwards, Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said he made sure to talk with McDermott about her future before the meet. “I gotta give her a blessing,” said Bauerle, noting that McDermott had been scheduled to compete internationally for Team USA this summer.

“You’re just so afraid to bring it up,” said Bauerle. “I just said, you do what you want to do. This is time. You’ve swum all your life. This is where I think, this is where after four years, it’s her decision. It’s not a coaches’ decision.”

Quick Hits

*Notre Dame’s Emma Reaney said she’s excited to be back in Greensboro after she set the NCAA record in the 200 breast in the same pool a year ago. “To be able to come back to this pool for my last collegiate meet, and knowing that 200 breast is on the last day, it’s comfortable.”

*McDermott commented on how her role on the Georgia team had changed as she went through the years. “I didn’t think that being a senior would be that much different. But it’s nice to be looked up to. The younger kids, they don’t know what they’re doing sometimes.” The latter comment quickly earned McDermott the wrath of her underclassmen teammates.

*Bauerle got credit as the winning coach from last year’s NCAA title team, but he missed the meet while on suspension. But he said that he felt no extra emotion in returning to the deck after a year off. In 2014, Bauerle said, “I got to coach them all the way until they got to the bus, but it was much more relaxing being at home.”

*Cal coach Teri McKeever made a number of significant changes to her swimmers’ events schedule this season. Along with Franklin’s switch, she moved Elizabeth Pelton out of the 200 free and into the 100 back. McKeever said that she took advantage of the versatility of both Franklin and Pelton in making the event selections while keeping in mind what would be best for their careers long term. She also added that she made particular changes “because I’m sneaky.”

*Reaney said that she took pride in representing an institution not traditionally known as a swimming powerhouse in Notre Dame, noting that she uses being an underdog and proving people wrong as motivation. “For a place that’s pretty much only known for football, being here on deck with the interlocking N-D on my cap is just a huge honor itself,” said Reaney.

More Quotes

Jack Bauerle, Georgia

“It’s an anything-goes championship.”
“Faster up top, and way deeper top 16.”
“To make top 16 will be very challenging.”

Teri McKeever, California

“It’s very rare in this stage of my coaching career that no one on my team…my team that’s here or anyone on the coaching staff has been to Greensboro. It’s pretty rare that we get to come to somewhere new.”
“The Bears are ready.”

Braden Holloway, NC State

“Excited to be the host team for this event, Greensboro has treated us well”
“There is a good fan base here and a great atmosphere.”
“Greensboro puts on a show, they take pride in their tournaments; every time we’re here they treat us awesome.”
“It’s a fast facility and I think a lot of teams will find that out.”

Greg Meehan, Stanford

“No better meet than the NCAA championship.”
“It is humbling to be here.”
“The staff at the facility has been great this week- they’ve really made our team feel welcome.”

Augie Busch, Virginia

“It is an honor to be sitting with several Olympic coaches, many times over.”
“Very excited for what the staff here at Greensboro will put on for us.”
“Our conference (ACC) is experiencing a growth spurt in the sport of swimming and diving.”

On Georgia as defending champions, and if there is a target on their backs?

Augie Busch: “You can only control the energy and focus and vision in front of you.” “Don’t put energy into what you can’t control.”
“Jack has done an incredible job bringing Georgia to what it is today.”
“I prefer not to focus my attention on him or any other team in the peripheral.”

Greg Meehan: “Control the controllables.”
“We’ve prepared ourselves to take care of our own business.”
“We get to dictate our own level of success.”

Teri McKeever: “The journey to the top is very exciting and challenging and a rewarding journey. I am most impressed personally with people who have the ability to stay at the top when others are bringing their best game, whether it be a team or individual and that’s why I have so much respect for Jack [Bauerle] and other programs and other coaches that have done that. And I am hoping, that’s my goal as a coach, my goal as a program is to be relevant as a program and be part of the conversation year in and year out.”

Teri McKeever on switching Missy and Elizabeth Pelton’s events for this meet.

“If you are fortunate enough to work with women who can be successful at the highest level with different events that gives you more opportunities as a coach and I think it gives them more opportunities to challenge themselves. Some of the decisions for Missy are not only in the best interest of the program, but in the best interest of herself. And I would say particularly for Elizabeth there have been some discussions of decisions in her best interest so she grows as an individual athlete that are between Elizabeth and I.”

Teri McKeever on Missy Franklin’s career

“When you’re fortunate enough to have an athlete of that stature on your team it brings an awareness to the sport and campus and program that I’m very appreciate of.”
“This group of women will give her the greatest gift anyone could ever give her.”

Missy Franklin, California

“I am so excited, this is obviously a little different for me, this is my last collegiate meet as many of you know. I couldn’t be more excited to be here with my girls. I’m so grateful and so blessed for the last two years. I think about not having this experience and I honestly can’t imagine where I would be.”
“It really has changed my life forever.”

Amber McDermott, Georgia

“This is my last collegiate meet, I’m really thankful to be here.”
“Greensboro is an awesome place to be for my last meet, the facility is great and so far I’ve had a good experience.”

Jessica Parratto, Indiana

“I have 1-meter, and 3-meter, and Platform to compete; I’m not used to that. I’m usually a platform diver so the springboard is a little different for me. I’m excited to be here.”

Emma Reaney, Notre Dame

“I haven’t even come to terms with it” (Last collegiate meet)
“Up until a week ago, I thought I was going to be the only girl here from Notre Dame, but then we had a second alternate slip in and then a diver make it, and they’re both seniors so to be able to share my last collegiate meet with two girls from my class is really special.”

Simone Manuel, Stanford

“I am going to try to soak up all of the memories with my teammates.”

Missy Franklin on her collegiate career

“The memories I’ve been able to make have really just been incredible.”
“I’m so excited for the next couple days to make so many more memories. I’ve grown as a person, I’ve grown as an athlete and I’m just so grateful for the opportunities and the challenges I’ve had to help me do that.”
“Looking forward, I’m looking towards the next 3 days. That’s what I’ve been working for the past two years and this is what it’s about right now. It’s what my team deserves and it’s what I deserve to be right here right now and enjoy every second of it.”

Emma Reaney on the pressure coming back after breaking NCAA record last year in 200 breast

“I feel pretty good. That swim, it didn’t necessarily come out of nowhere but I think I surprised myself.”

Missy Franklin on memorable moments in college

“For some reason, the one thing that is popping into my mind is finals week last winter. And our whole team, you would think that we’d get sick of each other after spending so much time together but we would all just take over this room in Doe library and study there for eight hours a day and be running off of coffee and cornbread and I’m sitting there and going through all of my notes and I looked up and it was just one of those moments where you sit back and I’m in this beautiful library on the best campus in the world surrounded by my best friends, my teammates, and people that I’m going to have in my life forever and just watching them study watching them listen to music and just thinking about the times I’ve been able to share with them and I feel as loved and as close to them sitting in the library studying for finals as I do after we win a relay or lose a relay and being able to share that with someone is a really special thing.”

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Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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