GREENSBORO-How have practices been going in the last two weeks for the North Carolina A&T swim team?
"Hard," said sophomore freestyler Akaela McGinty. "They've been hard, but I guess that's a necessary evil. But it's almost done. We're excited for it and we're ready."
The Aggies have been getting lots of individual attention from swimming head coach Shawn Hendrix and her assistant Gia Wright in the last two weeks since the regular season ended. Just one hour of individual practice time is worth a two or three-hour long team practice, Hendrix said, because of the level of detail and instruction she can give a student-athlete.
The one-on-one instruction has enabled the student-athletes to ensure their techniques are top-notch as they enter into the CCSA Championships Feb. 16-18 at the University of Georgia's Gabrielson Natatorium in Athens, Ga.
The student-athletes have committed themselves to improving as much as possible.
Several Aggies have cracked the Top 16 best times in the CCSA for individual events. They will look to improve upon those times with strong performances this weekend. Freshman Danielle Jackson has the 12th best time in the 50-yard breaststroke with a 33.55 time that she posted on Jan. 20 against Radford.
Sophomore Aarin Miles clocked in a 1:29.50 in the 100 yard IM on Jan. 20 against Radford, which is the 11th best time in the CCSA in that event. Teammate Sara Simmons is 12th with a 1:36.74 finish which she also posted on Jan. 20.
Junior Lauren Bowling has the 10th best time in the conference in the 50-yard butterfly with a 27.95 finish in that event on Jan. 20 against Radford.
Bowling has been working on her long distance events in the last two weeks to prepare for this weekend.
"I'm going to trying to get my endurance up to make sure that I can really survive in my 200 fly, and work on my strength so I'm not sore at all, so I feel nice and fresh at Championships," Bowling said after their match against Campbell on Jan. 27. "My times haven't really changed over the season, but personally I have seen that I've gotten a lot stronger this year, so that's a positive. And I do think my endurance has gotten a little better, but I'm still working on that through the end of the year."
The CCSA Championships meet is organized like a track meet. There are preliminary heats for each event, and the swimmers with the top 16 times advance to a finals heat.
The final meet of the season is usually a special one for the A&T swimming team. In addition to competing for the final time in the season, the Aggies always take time out to celebrate their team and time together.
Hendrix said that during the three-day Championships meet, the student-athletes take time out to write down positive messages about their teammates, such as what a teammate does or says that inspires them. The Aggies then get together and share the messages they wrote with their teammates.
Hendrix said that often A&T swimming team alumni still carry those messages that they received from their teammates during Championships. The Aggies will look to end the season strong, both in their team bonds and in their performances in the pool.