This past weekend, the women’s swim team traveled across town to nearby Loyola University to compete in the annual Thomas Murphy Invitational. Four schools arrived at the Mangione Pool, including West Chester University, Drexel Univeristy, Loyola University and our very own Blue Jays.
Hopkins finished with a total of 777 points and took third-place at the Invitational, as West Chester finished with 1075.50, Drexel finished with 799.50 and host Loyola finished with 750.
Several swimmers had standout races, including senior Natalia Rincon, who took third place in the 100 Fly, and the tag team of freshman Rebecca Ssengonzi, junior Sonia Lin, freshman Sophia Girgenti and Rincon, who opened up the morning session with a third-place finish in the 200 Free Relay.
One Blue Jay in particular had an impressive outing. Freshman Sydney Okubo was the only Jay to take a first-place finish, as she won the 200 Back. She finished in an NCAA B cut time of 2:01.73.
Okubo also took a second-place finish in the 400 IM, in which she posted an NCAA B time of 4:26.85 as a freshman. She also contributed in the 200 Medley Relay, helping her team finish third.
For her outstanding performance in the Invitational, she not only was named Co-Swimmer of the Meet, along with West Chester’s Ann Carozza and Georgia Wright, but also has been named this week’s Athlete of the Week.
Okubo sat down with The News-Letter to chat about her accomplishments this weekend, how she has adjusted to her first year of college swimming and her outlook on the future of her collegiate career.
The News-Letter: What was your mindset heading into this past weekend’s meet?
Sydney Okubo: We are all training very hard so I was focusing on trying to apply what we have been working on for the past few weeks. I also did want to swim a little faster than my times from this time last year.
N-L: How does it feel to be named Co-Swimmer of the Meet?
SO: It is exciting to be able to contribute to our team. I’m only a freshman and I am just swimming hard to not let my team down. My teammates play a major role in how I perform. I do swim faster and get pumped when I see them cheering.
N-L: How has your personal philosophy allowed you to already see so much success within the first few months of your collegiate career?
SO: Again, it makes things a lot easier when the team is behind you during practice and each event. I also believe in my coaches that they have the knowledge to build championship level swimmers. I have a lot of fun and enjoy my time with my teammates during practice. It is a big break from my classes.
N-L: Do you feel any pressure being a top performer on your team, especially being a freshman?
SO: Yes! This is a brand new experience for me, but I have a big goal to help JHU place at NCAA. I’m a small person so I need to push very hard to be able to perform in March. With academics only getting harder, I really need to stay ahead.
N-L: How have your teammates and coaches supported you during these first few months at Hopkins?
SO: Everyone has been amazing. All I have is support to succeed. We are all about the community and support this philosophy 100 percent. We are all very selfless and it makes it a lot easier for everyone. My teammates and coaches are the one single biggest reason for my success. I am a believer in support from other people in order to succeed in anything we do.
N-L: What are your personal goals and the team’s goals this season?
SO: My personal goal is to place at NCAA, and for our team, it is to place in the top four as a team.
N-L: How will you achieve these goals? What have you and the team done already this year that puts you on track?
SO: Like any sports or academics, hard work is one requirement for success. We all work really hard as a team and we are all heading in a direction to achieve our goals. We have also built trust which has helped us come together at this early stage in the season. I can’t wait to see what we can do as a team between now and March.
Okubo and the rest of the Blue Jays return to the pool next weekend, as they will host the New York University Violets in the Newton White Aquatic Center.