Feb 26, 2014, 11:36 AM EDT
As the league’s swimming and diving championships start this evening, the CAA decided to catch up with one more standout women’s swimming upperclassmen,William & Mary’s Megan Howard, after already chatting with Towson’s Kaitlin Burke last week.
Let’s begin Howard’s Q/A feature with a little background … Howard has had a remarkable junior campaign this season, having earned more points (339.5) than all of last year (338.25). The McLean, Va. native also has a chance to become the first Tribe swimmer to break 400 points in one year since 2009-10. According to the Tribe’s athletic department, Howard’s 26 victories this season put her in range to join Katie Radloff and Ruth Anne Miller as the only swimmers in school history to win more than 30 races in a year. Howard took home five weekly swimming honors from the league this year alone and led the CAA with the top registered time in three different events (50, 100 yard free and 100 yard butterfly).
CAA: Megan, comment on the type of season you’ve had individually thus far and how you’ve felt things have gone.
MH: It’s kind of been a break through season for me really … I know I won one Swimmer of the Week award last year, but this season has definitely been great. In dual-meets and then our mid-season meet, it’s been pretty good. I’m happy with everything, definitely been successful.
CAA: Has that individual success related to team achievements? The Tribe have done very well overall, including at home meets as well this season.
MH: I think so. I think everybody, the energy kind of feeds off each other. We have a bunch of fast swimmers like Will Manion and Andrew Strait and I think when people have big wins, it kind of energizes the team, especially when we are at home. I think people feed off each other and step up their own swimming.
CAA: Did you make any changes individually this past offseason?
MH: Individually, I think I just set my goals higher this year. I came into the season and I knew I wanted to make NCAAs and that’s still my goal that I’m working towards but I think everybody set pretty loft goals for themselves and the team did as a whole. We’ve all been really goal-driven and really been working towards everything that we set up at the beginning of the season.
CAA: How have your teammates responded to all your weekly honors this year? Anyone joked around and given you a hard time?
MH: No, no one has said anything really (laughing) … I was kind of worried, I was like ‘I don’t know if people are going to like me very much.’
CAA: I believe a couple of weeks ago you set the all-time record in the 50 free at William & Mary. Is it cool to know that there have been plenty of good swimmers before you, but now you have the fastest time ever in that event?
MH: Ya, it’s cool. Nobody really tells me when I do anything (set new records), so I always find out through Facebook. The girl who used to have the pool record, Katie Radloff, actually Facebook-messaged me and was like ‘Oh, congrats. I saw you broke the pool record.’ … That’s kind of how I found out, so it was funny.
CAA: So, that’s how you found out you broke the record, through Facebook?
MH: Haha, I was like ‘Oh, that’s good, thank you.’
CAA: It’s easy to see the sacrifices swimmers have to make, but you’ve certainly had a large amount of success individually this year, winning over 20 events. How are you able to get into a competitive/winning mindset that easily once races start?
MH: I’m definitely not the greatest practicer, so I think when it comes to meets I can definitely turn it on. I’m a pretty competitive person, I definitely like winning. Once I was in my streak, I figured that I would just keep it going.
CAA: How much does the CAA Championships actually increase the competition between swimmers? Is there a certain added incentive knowing that you will square off versus the best of the best?
MH: That’s interesting. A lot of people are really into tracking times and seeing how other teams are doing. I’ve never really been one of those people, so I kind of don’t follow what the other teams are doing during the season. But, I mean it’s definitely different because when you swim people in season, some people really need a taper to kind of put up their best times and when you get them in season they are not as sharp. So, definitely the taper and just the conference championship meet and everything that comes with it. It’s a lot more competitive.
CAA: How would you describe the biggest difference of swimming versus the pool or clock and swimming versus opponents or teams who have the best swimmers possible?
MH: Ultimately, it’s all about the best that you can do at that given moment and it’s really about what times you’re going to put up. Coach always says that you can’t really control what other people are going to do. Somebody else could be having a breakthrough meet, but you can’t control that. You can only focus on what you’re going to do and how fast you can swim and just prepare yourself. I like to put the blinders on and just focus on what I can do at that given time and be happy for my successes and other peoples’ as well. It’s definitely about you and the clock. That’s what I think sets swimming apart from other sports. Other sports can be very subjective. Swimming is just, you swim and you get a time. That’s it.
CAA: Are you a competitor who has to listen to music before a race?
MH: Yes, I always have to listen to music, I do.
CAA: Could you give me the last three songs played on your I-Pod before your races? …
MH: These are probably not good … It’s like Roy Jones Jr. “Can’t Be Touched” … I’m trying to think of more, Tech 9 “The Beast”.
CAA: Wow, OK then, going all out.
MH: Ya (laughing). I’ll show you guys my playlist at the championships. It’s mostly rap music.
CAA: Last question: How do you find time to swim when you’re a biology major?
MH: I actually think that it helps me. I have a very set schedule; I know when all my practices are going to take place so it helps me manage my time. I know exactly when during the day I need to do my homework and get that done and study. I find swimming to be a stress reliever. When I’m at practice I don’t really think about all the other things I have going on. I don’t think about my tests or anything, I just focus on being in that moment. It definitely helps me manage my time. I really like it.
CAA: Well, I wish you the best of luck leading up to the championships and I’m sure we will catch up at the pool in College Park.
MH: Thank you for having me, I look forward to it.
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