March 5, 2007
Lady Vol Head Swimming Coach Matt Kredich will accompany seven of his swimmers to the NCAA Championships meet in Minneapolis, Minn., from March 8-10. Kredich sat down to answer some questions about the progress the team has made this year and his expectations for the upcoming national championships meet.
As your second year as the head swimming coach at UT comes to a close, what are some of the greatest accomplishments the team has made in your eyes?
I think this year's team has taken some great steps forward in understanding accountability and performance. Each person on our team had to step into the spotlight at some point this season, and every one of them can point to a time when they really responded well to being thrust into that position.
One of the defining moments for our team this season was the Friday morning at the SEC Championships when we woke up to discover five of our athletes were being taken to the hospital with a stomach flu. The rest of the team was kind of quiet and uneasy - everyone was wondering if they might be next - when one of our captains, Liz Christy, stood up and said, `No one talks about being sick, no one acts sick, NO ONE IS SICK! We're going to swim fast today!" She sat down, everyone kind of smiled, and we went about our business that morning and had an outstanding session, maybe our best one of the meet. A lot of people had their best performance of the season that morning.
There were several school and personal records broken at this year's Southeastern Conference Championships. How do you think the level of the program has increased this year?
All of our returnees either swam lifetime bests or at least swam faster than they did last year, so that is a real sign of progress. Last year we relied on a handful of people to carry us in meets and carry us emotionally. I think we have spread out that responsibility this year, and we've seen more people actually look for that responsibility. I think that belief in the team is moving forward, and that belief precedes any great accomplishment.
Junior Christine Magnuson is now a very successful swimmer in the butterfly having won the 100y fly at the SEC Championships. What has she done differently to make this one of her best events?
Christine did a lot of very challenging butterfly workouts last summer, and in doing so committed herself to becoming a great butterflier. She really made a decision that she was going to become an expert at this event, and she's done it. Her race in finals at SEC's was close to being flawless.
Do you feel more comfortable going into NCAA competition knowing you have already faced some of the nation's best teams in the regular season and especially at the SEC Championships?
Yes - we're pretty familiar now with Florida, Georgia and Auburn, and we've taken some races from them and certainly had our chances to beat Georgia and Auburn in a dual meet. Stanford may be the hottest team in the NCAA, and we saw them up close as well. I don't think our team really cares what name is on another team's cap. They truly believe we control our own destiny.
Each of last year's relay squads at NCAA's finished in the top-five fastest relay times in school history. Do you predict that same kind of performance from this year's relays?
We've got a shot to break a school record in every relay. Our training has been exceptional over these past few weeks, so I'm expecting a lot of fast swims.
Freshman Michele King is the youngest member of the team to be traveling to Minneapolis. How big of an impact has she had this year?
Michele has had a really positive effect on our team this year. She can do so many things well and she's a great competitor. She's also faced some typical freshman challenges, and has really struggled at times. It's unfortunate that the illness took her out of SEC's because she was off to a good start at that meet. That means we've only begun to see what she can do, and we'll see more at NCAA's.
In November, the Lady Vols traveled to Minneapolis for the Minnesota Invite. What are your impressions of the facility and do you think UT will benefit from having been there already?
The pool at the University of Minnesota is a great facility and they do a super job of running meets. It can only help us to be familiar with the venue, and it helps that we swam well there in November.