This week, I sat down with senior Taylor Winter, co-captain of the women’s swim team, to discuss her secrets to success in the pool, her expectations as a senior swimmer, and what makes the Lawrence University Swim Team so great.
Gabe Chapman: I feel like every time I read the recaps and statistics from the swim meets I always see your name as either a winner or top finisher in all of your events, so my first question has to be what’s your secret to success?
Taylor Winter: Well I’ve been swimming since I was eight years old. I’ve always been in the water year-round. At every practice I give 110% effort, I bring a positive attitude, I cheer on my teammates and they do the same for me, and I always stay motivated.
GC: What first drew you to the sport?
TW: My older sister was a swimmer, and I always watched her. I thought it would be cool to try it out. I never thought I’d stick with it for fourteen or fifteen years, but I’m really glad I did. I love it.
GC: What do you think of your swimming performance so far this year?
TW: I’m extremely happy with how this season is going. It’s sad that this is my last season, but overall as a team this is the strongest the women have been in probably Lawrence’s entire history. So we’re really pumped up for our conference meet in a couple of weeks. We’ve got a lot of depth – a lot of talent – and I think we’re due for some really fast swims, and we’re going to surprise a lot of the other teams in the conference.
GC: Can you take me through your pre-race routine a little bit? What’s your method of approach?
TW: I start with a long warm-up to loosen up my muscles, get into the zone, and feel confortable in the water. Then I’ll do some faster 50s (lengths) to get into the mentality of swimming my longer races, because it’s important to do what we call “pace” them in order to make sure you’re on track during the entire race. And then I’ll get out and do a cheer with my team, and our coach will bring us into a huddle to get us pumped up and ready to go. I usually listen to some music on my iPod, drink a little Gatorade, maybe eat a bit of a power bar, watch the first couple of races and then get excited for mine. I do some stretches and exercises behind the block, splash some water on my face and then I’m ready to go.
GC: What events do you usually race in?
TW: My two main events are the 500 freestyle and the 1650 freestyle (the mile). Usually in every dual meet I’ll swim both of those. Sometimes the mile will be swapped out for the 1000 freestyle, because they’re both pretty long events, and during the season, it can be hard to race to that capacity at every meet. But at conference championships I’ll do the 200, 500, and 1650 freestyle. I’ve done that every year as a member of the Lawrence Swim Team, and I’m excited to do it one more time.
GC: Do you have a favorite out of those events?
TW: I’d have to say my favorite is the 1650 because most people will see it as a daunting race but I see it as an opportunity for success. It takes a lot of training, determination, and mental strength to get through the race; but if you have all of those you’ll be successful. It’s 66 lengths of the pool, and it takes me 17 minutes and 40 seconds. But I have my team cheering for me the whole time and that makes it perfect.
GC: What’s your favorite part of being a member of the LU swim team?
TW: That’s a tough question. I think it would have to be the amazing group of people that I get to train with, eat meals with, and motivate and be motivated by. I go to practice every day and everyone’s always in a positive mood, ready to work hard and push each other. That’s what makes us such a strongly bonded team. They’re my second family is a good way of putting it. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
GC: That is a good way to put it. I know you guys have high expectations for the rest of the year, but are there any specific expectations that you have for yourself for the rest of the season?
TW: My two ultimate goals are to achieve the NCAA time standard for Division III in the 1650 free—I was only a second off of it last year so I think I’ll do it no problem this year; and to get the school record in the 500 free, which I’m also only a second away from. As far as for the overall team, I think we have a chance to break a lot of records, so that’s very exciting.