Feb. 13, 2013
There's no question Molly Hannis made her freshman debut at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships a memorable one last year.
She bagged three gold medals -- the 100-yard breaststroke and a pair from the medley relays -- to help the Lady Vols finished second in the team scoring in their home waters at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center.
Hannis, a native of Santa Rosa, Calif., has lived up to expectations in her second season. As the team's only breaststroke specialist, she's touched the wall first in every 100 and 200 breaststroke competition this year. Not only that, but she has matched her collegiate best in the 100 breaststroke (59.60 seconds) and set a new best in the 200 (2:11.05).
With the 2013 SEC Championships less than a week away in College Station, Texas, Hannis talks about how training has gone this season and the improvements she has made with the new assistant coaching staff and combined men's and women's program.
Q: We're finished with the dual meet season now. How are preparations going for SECs?
A: "I think we're in a good spot right now. Training is going really well. The team is really engaged in practices. Even though we lost the Florida meet, we still all swam really good races. The way we did swim, it showed some things we need to work on going into it, to zone in on. But I think the way we've gone through the season has set us up for a good championship meet."
Q: You've gotten to swim the SECs one time and that was here. What will you use from that experience swimming on the road this time at Texas A&M?
A: "It'll definitely be different with A&M. They're right into the conference and then get to host it. It'll be interesting. I think it helps to have been to it last year for sure. There was just this energy, something just really different from anything I'd experienced. With two more teams, it's going to add a whole new dynamic to it. I don't know what to expect. It's going to be interesting."
Q: How has your training gone this year? With combining programs, you're getting to do some breaststroke practice with the men. How's that been going?
A: "It's been going really well. Combining the programs really helped me. It definitely has benefitted me a lot. For breaststroke, there weren't really any girls to train with. There are a certain couple guys I've been training with, and they've been really supportive, really great. They push me. My times in practice have been much better than they were last year. I think competing with them in practice has elevated my level of competition, and I just feel leaner and stronger right now. This year's training has gone a lot better, and I'm really excited to see what I can do the rest of the season."
Q: In your performances this season, you've won the breaststroke every time. Was that something you were anticipating for yourself?
A: "I don't know. I remember at the beginning of the year, I liked the pressure -- that being the only breaststroker would be fine. After the first few meets, I got a little stressed out, but as the year went on, Matt (Kredich) coached me through it and made me realize win or lose, just do your best kind of thing. They ended up all being wins, and that was great."
Q: At what point did the breaststroke kind of become your race?
A: "Probably when I was 13 or 14. I used to play soccer, but like any athlete, you kind of have to pick sports. I got a national time and I kind of picked swimming, and it was breaststroke that got me there. I sort of have a unique stroke, a different way that I swim, so I think that's also helped me getting to where I am. That turning point was when I was 14 or so."
Q: We've got some boxing gloves right next to us now. Training's been pretty different this year for the team. All-new assistant coaches as well. What have been some of the highlights for you in new types of training?
A: "Each of the coaches have all been awesome. Each has brought new teaching styles, coaching styles. We still do a lot of the same things, but I think one of the main coaches that brought something in was Bill Boomer. You've probably heard about it, but he brings a whole new way of coaching. He kind of speaks in another language sometimes the way he coaches. He's really helped me in developing my breaststroke. He's helped me develop my 200 breaststroke especially. Last year at SECs, I think I went a 2:12, and this year in season I've gone 2:11 twice. I think it's really a tribute to his coaching style and the things he's taught me. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what. I guess body line, but it's a lot more than just that. Bret (Lundgaard), I know, likes to videotape people. He's really brought that aspect, the technical side. He's brought in a new machine that gives us more statistics in swimming, the drag ratios and stuff. The coaches have been awesome, switching up and making training fun."