Published on March 21st, 2014 | by Valeria Sabate
Making a splash: Men and women’s swim teams place in top 10 at Nationals
The men’s swimming team got second place in Nationals and women’s team got seventh place.
A total of 18 Florida Southern College athletes attended Nationals.
According to Junior Luis Rojas, this is the first time in school’s history that it has ever taken that many athletes.
“Having 12 males and 6 females qualify puts us in the right direction and I expect more to qualify next year,” Head Coach Sherrard Duncan said.
Sherrard said that he did not feel any pressure, despite having to compete at Nationals.
“We have been fortunate to build a pretty successfully swim program, and our Administration wants us to be successful but I don’t feel pressure to win it all,” Sherrard said. “I want my athletes to put themselves in a position to be successful.”
To Sherrard the biggest challenge was to allow their athletes to let it go.
“We as a staff have to get them ready to perform and get them to realize to relax and let it go. Meaning just race and great things will happen,” Duncan said.
Rojas felt no pressure because he has goals that he wants to achieve and some things he wants to do.
“There is pressure because I want to do well for my team, for the school and for myself,” Rojas said.
The swim team practices all year to prepare for the NCAA Championships.
Rojas prepares himself for a meet like this by resting his body, focusing on the competition and visualizing all his swims.
“Of course I am nervous. It is the most important meet of the season. It’s pretty much the one that counts the most,” Rojas said.
Rojas said that in this meet is where the “best” of the division goes to Nationals.
“So that is when you know if you are the best or at least one of the top of the nation,” Rojas said.
Also the team is reminded to be “successful” every day in practice.
“On a day-to-day basis you have to do the little things correctly and work hard for the results to be there at the end of the year,” Sherrard said.
Duncan said that it is always hard to consolidate youth and experience in a team, but that the swim team pulled it off.
“The newcomers have a done a great job,” Sherrard said.
Captain Allan Gutierrez agreed with Sherrard in an interview before going to Nationals.
“This year I feel we have more quality of swimmers,” Gutierrez said.
Club swimming it is individualistic compared to college where you have to swim individual, but perform for the team too.
“Fortunately we have a lot of good leaders in our returners who help our newcomers every year reach their potential,” Sherrard said.
Rojas said that the team has a lot of possibilities to win Nationals.
“We have a lot of good swimmers that are really good. Last year we got second and we weren’t that many as we are now. I feel like we are more prepared mentally,” Rojas said.
Sherrard would have liked all members of the team to qualify for Nationals.
“I always want more kids to qualify. The NCAA Championships is such an awesome experience and I want all of our kids to experience it,” Sherrard said.
Despite the fact that women’s team did not win the SSC Championship, Sherrard still thinks that both teams did their “best.”
“It feels really good to repeat what we did last year, [winning SSC Championship],” Gutierrez said after qualifying.
Freshman Diego Gimenez believes that it was all about team support. When the team first qualified Gimenez gave his views on the experience.
“We would have never had that success without the support of our teammates. It’s something that you could never re-live again,” Gimenez said.
Some of the teams at the SSC Championship did not give up so easily.
“The University of Tampa did not go down without a fight in the Men’s Meet and on the Women’s side Tampa had the depth to carry them through the meet,” Sherrard said.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Koehler