1) You swam at NAC not too long ago. Can you tell us a little bit about your career/background at NAC?
I started swimming at the Green Hills YMCA when I was six years old and joined NAC that fall. In all, I swam on NAC for twelve years, sixteen including college – Green Group to Seniors – along with my three sisters. All four us swam in college: My sister Ann and I swam at Yale, Mary swam at Princeton, and Bridget swam at Bowdoin. Our parents have been to too many swim meets.
2) Was there a specific swimming moment (at practice, a certain meet or race, etc.) that helped you make the decision to stick with NAC and see swimming through as far as you did?
I love being on a team, and NAC has always had a strong team environment. I came up surrounded by great friends and terrific swimming families like the Heymans, the Ramsdens, the Wisemans, the Camps – there were so many people looking out for us and supporting us. Honestly, leaving swimming never crossed my mind. The Sportsplex was as important to me as my school and my own house.
3) You went on to swim collegiality at Yale. Can you tell us about your experiences in New Haven and how NAC helped prepare you for the challenging environment of the Ivy League?
It was obvious to me even during my freshman year that the training we did here had given me a head-start at the college level. We had already done our fair share of tough threshold sets. It was just as important, though, that my coaches here taught me dedication. The high expectations that Coach set for us when we reached the Senior level made it easy for me to adapt to the level of commitment required to swim at Yale. The Ivy League is a terrific conference with great rivalries and great coaching. Having the opportunity to swim in the Ivy League, I got to combine two of my favorite aspects of swimming in Nashville: the rewarding challenges of training at a place like NAC and the awesome competitive environment of the Tennessee State meet. I loved my team and the program we were a part of, and I love going back to visit.
4) We’re getting ready for Southeastern Championships and ending our season on a high note. What is your favorite championship memory from your time at NAC?
When I was an Age Grouper, the rivalry between NAC and Excel was intense. Southeasterns once came down to the final events, and a single DQ decided the meet. We learned our lesson: even at a long meet, every swim counts!
5) What do you like so much about NAC and the Nashville swimming scene that has kept you so heavily involved? (Pat is the Head Coach for MBA)
I owe so much to the Nashville swimming community. Everyone I knew as a child still looks after and supports one another. I think my gratitude for what I grew up with helps me to be a positive coach. Being both a coach and a teacher now, on both the high-school and club sides of swimming, I have the chance to get know swimmers from all over Nashville. Our athletes work so hard and are willing to give so much to the sport; they deserve to know that they’re supported. I know that as a NAC and MBA alum, and now a NAC and MBA coach, I’m in a special position to do just that.
6) Last question – favorite NAC memory… Ready, go!
I could go through a lot of history: Tracy Caulkins speaking at the NAC banquet when I was seven, my first Southeasterns in Pensacola when I was eight, soft-serve ice cream at the summer meets at the Lakeside quarry, the old NAC 500, swimming for Brad Kale and Brian Haddad and Louis Demetriades, watching the Nashville flood pour through the doors of the Sportsplex during a swim meet. My favorite memories are from high school. When I was in high school, there were about twelve of us in the Senior group together at MBA. Those guys are some of the best teammates I ever had. We won State when I was a senior, and then they won again two years later. The 400 free relay I swam with Tate Ramsden, Andrew Dobbs, and Nathan Stinson will always be the race I’m proudest of. I think I enjoy coaching just as much as I did swimming, though. Getting to come back and be on deck here again, I know, will be a special memory in its own right.