Nov. 3, 2010
Tennessee junior Jake Epperson sat down with UTSports.com recently to discuss his recent success, the team, what brought him to Tennessee and life in general.
Q: First of all, I want to talk about Kentucky. You had two wins at Kentucky so that was a big day for you. Did you do something in preparation that allowed you to succeed up there or was it just a lot of work over the year?
A: It was mainly just a lot of work. I've been working with (assistant coach) Lars (Jorgensen) a lot of things like different race strategies and trying out a bunch of different ways to take out a race or how to use different energy levels. I think it was just a mixture of playing around and just wanting to go fast.
Q: In last week's win at Kentucky, you won the 100 backstroke and the 200 breaststroke. You've never had two wins in a meet before. Is that a big deal or is that kind of like `what's next?'
A: It's not really a big deal. I mean, it makes you feel good but my expectations don't change just because I won a couple of races. You always want more but it does make you feel better-- it gives you some confidence.
Q: You mentioned Lars, can tell me he brings to the table at Tennessee?
A: Lars is great. Since we're both from Toledo, I've known him for a little bit. He's really energetic. He just kicks your butt basically. He's really hard and he knows if you're trying to slack off a little bit, he just doesn't let you.
Q: What's Lars' style of practice like?
A: He doesn't allow anyone to slack off at all. If Lars notices you aren't going all out in a set, he'll get in your face like, `what are you doing? Pick it up!' He is definitely making us better.
Q: This is your third year at UT so you've competed at a lot of different pools. What's your favorite pool outside of Knoxville?
A: I like Ohio State. I'm from Ohio and their new pool is really nice.
Q: You'll be there later this year, right?
A: I'll be there in two weeks so that will be good.
Q: What is it about their pool that you like?
A: It's brand new and it's really similar to our pool. It has the same architecture style, and it's just really open and bright. Plus, I've always swum fast there. Obviously our pool is my favorite though.
Q: What are your goals for this year?
A: I'd like to medal at SECs. I've made it to the finals both years and I'd like place this time.
Q: What does it take to get to that level?
A: It takes everything. It takes outrageous amounts of work, your whole heart and everything you have. You can't go in there saying `I want to medal' and just do it, you've got to want it badly.
Q: When you're getting ready for a big meet--let's say it's an SEC final--is there something you do to pump yourself up?
A: I usually listen to music just to try to drown out all the noise. You try not to think about the race too much, you don't want to overthink it but I think about all the little things I have to do, just technical things.
Q: Do you have any friends on any other SEC teams?
A: Yeah, I grew up with a guy who's at Florida now, Brian Howell, and so I'll see him a couple times this year. And then I've got a bunch of friends at Kentucky.
Q: Do you talk to those guys before the meet? Did you talk to those Kentucky guys before that meet last week?
A: I talked to them during warmups when everything is a little more laid back but once the meet starts, we don't talk-- it's time to take care of business.
Q: Who from the team would win Dancing with the Stars?
A: Michael Wright. He's a great dancer.
Q: If Jersey Shore came to the swim team for casting, who from the team would make the cut?
A: Probably Ryan Harrison. He would fit right in.
Q: What was the best Halloween costume from the team?
A: Geoff Sanders dressed up as a Lego piece. He went with his girlfriend and she was a Lego piece, too. They fit together, so that was cool.
Q: What did you dress up as?
A: I didn't really dress up. I wasn't feeling very well so I just kind of winged it.
Q: What's your favorite part about being a swimmer at Tennessee?
A: The closeness of our team. We're a really tight-knit group. A lot of teams are really spread out and our closeness kind of makes us unique.
Q: If I asked someone that question that will pretty much be the answer. What is it about the team: is it JT (head coach John Trembley) or the captains? What is it that makes you so close?
A: The way JT treats people is a part of that--we're all basically the same. We all have similar personalities, so no one really stands out as an oddball. Everyone on the team just really gets along with each other.
Q: You're from Toledo, Ohio, why did you choose Tennessee? How did you end up here?
A: Well actually, I wasn't looking here at all. I didn't even know really where Tennessee was until Coach Trembley called me. I got here and I took a tour of the new pool being built. We were sitting in the team room and they were introducing me and I just felt this weird vibe like this was just the right place.
Q: How do you think you guys will do this year?
A: I think we'll do really well. We're a pretty deep team this year.
Q: Do you guys have a SEC mentality right now or are you guys just focused on Ohio State right now?
A: We think about each meet week to week but SECs are always on our mind. We talk about it and never really forget about it.