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GREENSBORO- The lineups for relay and individual events for the North Carolina A&T swimming team's season has yet to be set.  But head coach Shawn Hendrix is already confident in one prediction for the 2012-13 season.   

"I know we'll have new school records.  In what event, I don't know, but I know we will have new school records.  I anticipate that," she said.

The Aggies will look to see if they can start rewriting the program record books in their first meet of the year, the first annual All-NC Invitational.  The two-day meet is hosted by N.C. State and will be held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.  Swimming action on Friday starts at 5:30 p.m., and at 10 a.m. on Saturday.  

The Aggies will face some stiff competition at the GAC, as several top-notch schools from all around the state will be participating in the Oct. 5-6 meet.  Campbell, Catawba College, Davidson College, Duke, East Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Greensboro College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, N.C. State, Pfeiffer, Queens University of Charlotte, UNC Asheville and Wingate are all scheduled to compete.

"It's the best meet to start off with because you get a little bit of everything, every level," said A&T head coach Shawn Hendrix.  "Don't be fooled-- the Division II's that are there will be very tough.  It's a great meet because I can look at a lot of different things, and the girls get to swim different events.  I'm excited just to see how they work as a team." 

Not only does Hendrix get a chance to see her Aggies perform in their events and how they handle competition as a team, but the A&T swimmers get a chance to see how they stack up against swimmers who have competed in the NCAA Championships.

"Having teams that are there that make it to NCAA Finals and competing against them gives them a sample platter of what it takes to get to NCAA Nationals and qualifying times.  I'm excited for them to be able to experience that," Hendrix added. 

The Aggies are heading into their first meet of the season with a young squad.  Of the 17 swimmers on the team, eight are freshmen.  The Aggies have just one senior on the team in Lauren Bowling, who owns a number of the program's butterfly event records.  Other returning swimmers this year include Erika Eisenman, Christian Hill, Danielle Jackson, Courtney Jefferson, Aarin Miles, LaBraya Milton, Sarah Simmons and Courtney Wilkins.  Team-building has been just as much a focus as physical preparation because of the team's size and its youth.

"Cohesiveness in doing everything as one unit has been a very big focus," said Hendrix.  "I think they're beginning to understand how important it is to hold each other accountable in and outside the water, academically and everything else."

She added that learning to move and work as a single unit, instead of a collection of individual swimmers, has been the biggest growing pain during the preseason.  It's taken some time for the Aggies to learn, she said as an example, that when one person is late to practice it means everyone is late to practice.  But teaching those lessons in accountability and togetherness now will help the Aggies become a stronger team for the season.

"I think they're recognizing more in workouts who is stronger in distance, who's the strongest kicker, and identifying those people and pushing themselves to compete with them," Hendrix said.  "We've got some people that are better kickers, some people that are better pullers, and as they identify them, you can see that they're really trying to match up with that person." 

 


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