Last weekend, the Hopkins men’s and women’s swimming teams headed to Providence, R.I. to compete in the Bruno Invite against Division I schools. The women finished in sixth place, while the men grabbed third place, finishing behind only Princeton University and Columbia University.
In the men’s meet, junior Brandon Fabian finished the 100 Fly in 47.90 seconds, the fastest time in program history. Sophomore Matt McGough followed that with an NCAA B cut of his own in the finals the 400 IM. He set the school record in the morning swim, finishing in 3:55:81. He also finished in eighth place in the 200 Back.
McGough was named our Athlete of the Week for his performance this weekend. He sat down with The News-Letter to discuss his recent success and his expectations for the rest of the season.
The News-Letter: How did it feel to finish in third place in the individual medley and eighth place in the relay at the Bruno Invitational while competing against D-I swimmers?
Matt McGough: It was really great placing so well at the meet against Division-1 teams. Personally, going in and swimming against a lot of Ivy League teams and other top tier programs like Villanova can be stressful, but placing so well validates all of the work that I have put in both in and out of the pool. In the individual medley, it was so great being in the championship final with Christopher Arena and Erik Bostrom, two of my best friends and training partners; it really shows that level of intensity and the work ethic of the entire squad. We are all committed to performing at our highest level and want to show that fast swimming is not reserved for Division 1 teams. The relay was so exciting and such a great experience to be a part of. Swimming individual races is fun, but there is really no other feeling like a relay competing for the whole team and racing with three other team members.
N-L: How have you developed as a swimmer since you have become part of the program? How has your personal philosophy changed since your freshman year?
MM: I really have felt that I have matured so much as a swimmer since joining the team last fall. I came from a club swim team that was very individualized and had an “every man for themselves” attitude. However, at Hopkins, everything we do is for the betterment of the team and the bonds between us.
We truly are a family that builds each other up. Having the change of mindset to learning that I’m a part of larger whole was the most radical but also most important and life-changing change. I say this all the time that being a part of this team is the privilege of my life, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. It has changed so much about my philosophy toward swimming and life in general. As for my development as a swimmer, I really think Coach Scott [Armstrong], Nick [Charriez], and Marge [Zagrobelny] have done such a great job trying to help everyone reach their potential.
They are some of the best people at what they do, and they are dedicated to developing us as people too because at the end of the day, swimming ends with college.
N-L: How do you feel about your performance so far this year?
MM: So far this year I am beyond surprised and happy with my performance. At the beginning of the season I was performing a lot better than last year in the dual meet. I was super happy with the team’s performance this fall beating University of Delaware, Bucknell, and placing second at the Thomas Murphy Invitational. Personally, I struggled with illness and injury in the middle of the fall. I was in a boot during the Thomas Murphy Invitational, and I couldn’t swim the dual meet against NYU because I had a fever. So going into Brown, I was nervous about not having racing performance. But being able to go three best times and a college best time really made me happy.
N-L: What are some of your personal goals for the rest of the season?
MM: At this point in the season, I am so happy with how I am performing. Going into the second half of the season, my main goal would be to work on my 200 backstroke and being able to stay focused and physically well throughout a three or four day meet such as the Bruno or NCAAs. My main goal for the season was to make NCAAs. So everything else beyond the invited time has been “the cherry on top of the cake.” I’m just thrilled to be able to have another half of the season with this team and see everyone work hard and get ready for championship season in the spring.
N-L: Hopkins had a great performance last weekend, placing third at the Bruno Invitational. What are the team’s expectations going forward?
MM: The team going forward is really just trying to get as many people as possible to go to NCAAs and/or achieve lifetime best times. Our ultimate goal is to win NCAAs. It’s on everyone’s minds during practice and it’s really where we want to take this program. Beyond goals in the pool, we say all the time that against Division 1 competition we may not be the fastest, but we want to be the team on the pool deck that all the other people wish they could be apart of. Meaning that we want to be the team that is visibly the most close-knit and supportive of each other. I think that wherever we go, we achieve this goal. I had so many friends on other teams compliment us on how close we are and how palpable the energy is when we are together. I think that if we continue to be that team that everyone wants to emulate, then the sky is the limit for what we can achieve.