GREENSBORO - All of the hard work and effort that the North Carolina A&T swimming team has put in this season has been preparing them for this week's Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association Championships. Over the past two weeks, those preparations have become even more intense.
The Championships, held at the Gabrielsen Natatorium from Feb. 21-23 on the campus of the University of Georgia, will be the capstone of the season.
"It's really a choice now of doing the small things for the big opportunity. They know it. It's just applying it," Hendrix said.
In the past two weeks since A&T finished the regular season at the Davidson Invitational, the Aggies have been preparing for the championships. Hendrix has been putting her team through mock meets, to help them mentally prepare for the rigors of the competition. Those meets help a young team understand how championships meets are conducted, according to Hendrix.
The Aggies have also been working on starts and pacing in practice. The team has also been implementing pace competitions in practices with the freshmen having major success.
"I sent Victoria (Orr) first because Kenya (Dunn's) freestyle is obviously faster than Victoria's fly. It forces Victoria to maintain that advantage of being in front of her and it forces Kenya to race and catch up," Hendrix said. "You have to time it off their pace so that they come in about the same time, so they're racing to the finish, which really works out well. This morning they did a brilliant job of that. I was very impressed with them."
Not only does the competition help them improve their performances, but it helps Hendrix's athletes learn to hold each other accountable and to push each other, which is key heading into CCSA Championships.
In addition to seeing how her five freshmen finish the season, Hendrix will be welcoming junior Erika Eisenman back to competition this week. Eisenman had to sit out the last three months following wrist surgery. Her return to competition means the Aggies will have more flexibility with some of their relay lineups.
The Aggies will look to finish off the spring semester in a similar way to how they wrapped up competition in the fall-with several new records. Five new program records were set last fall at the Radford Highlander Invitational, which was held from Nov. 15-17 at the Dedmon Center Natatorium.
At the Highlander Invitational, freshman Niya Ross set a new record of 2:03.40 in the 200 freestyle. Orr bested senior Lauren Bowling's record in the 400 IM by clocking in at 5:12.57. Freshman Miranda Jacobs set a new record in the 200 backstroke by touching the wall at 2:23.09. Bowling, who owns all of the school's individual butterfly records, broke her old record in the 200 fly by swimming the event in 2:15.64 at the Highlander Invitational. The Aggies also set a new record in the 800 freestyle relay, as junior Christian Hill, freshman Jade Hill, Jacobs and Ross combined for an 8:52.25 finish.
But with all the hard work the Aggies have put in, no one on the team has worked as long as Bowling. She is the Aggies lone senior, swimming in her final collegiate meet. Hendrix said Bowling has a good chance to break her own school record in the 100 butterfly record, which stands at 1:00.28.
"I think Lauren will beat her (own) time. Her goal is to go under a minute. I know that she is very capable of doing it," Hendrix said. "My goal for her championships is just to have fun. I've tried to put her in the best situation so she can succeed and meet all of her goals that she has. I want her to have fun, and that's the biggest thing."