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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Athlete of the week: Annie Chandler

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Swim meet between the Arizona Wildcats, UNLV Running Rebels, and the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Swim meet between the Arizona Wildcats, UNLV Running Rebels, and the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Editor’s Note: Annie Chandler, a senior on the women’s swim team, won an individual national championship and set the NCAA record in the 100-yard breaststroke.  The Arizona Daily Wildcat caught up with Chandler to discuss setting an NCAA record, the swim team gaining respect and feeling comfortable naked.

Daily Wildcat: So how does it feel to own an NCAA record? Not many people can say that.

Annie Chandler: Yeah, I was really just shooting for the NCAA title, so to get the record was a bonus. I didn’t even hear the announcer say it.  A reporter asked me that same question and I said, “”Oh, what do I own? What record is this?”” (laughs). So that was a pleasant surprise and something that I definitely wasn’t expecting.

How does it compare being an individual national champion to being part of a team national championship (2008)?

The team national championship was indescribable. Everybody was on top of the world, even if they didn’t have the meet of their life; we all came together and collected enough points to win that title. There is nothing like a victory that you celebrate with everybody. This individual title I feel like everyone knew how much I wanted it, so in that respect I got to celebrate with my teammates. After the race it was a moment I will never forget, I got out of the pool and all of my teammates were just swarming around me and there were tears, probably something you won’t see at the men’s meet, but it was just phenomenal. I was so moved by how one swim can bring them to tears, so it was an awesome moment.

Are you satisfied with the way the season ended?

Yeah, I think everyone would have loved to win a title. It was the closest meet in NCAA history. I don’t think anyone on our team has the right to be disappointed, because I think everyone put it on the line. There was a difference of 23 points between first and fourth place. So nobody can be disappointed, it wasn’t like last year where we had a disqualification that cost us the title. There really wasn’t anything that we can regret. Everybody fought hard.

So you are from San Antonio, why did you decide to come to Tucson and the UA?

I wanted to get out of Texas. I love Texas; I feel that all Texans have that cockiness about them. I was so anxious to just try out a new place.  I actually only took three recruiting trips. One was to Auburn, one to SMU (Southern Methodist University) in Dallas and that was just to appease my parents who thought maybe there was a glimmer of hope that I would stay in Texas. Then I took my trip here and I loved every minute of it. I love how laid-back everyone is here; it’s got like a California feel to it. But it also isn’t a big city; I loved everything about Tucson and everything about the team and what it stood for.

What was your greatest moment swimming for the UA?

It had to be this past week. I wasn’t going to cry, but when I saw my teammates crying it was just impossible not to. The culmination of all the hard work and all the lost sleep thinking about how you can get better, to see that finally pay off if anything taught me that patience is invaluable. And even if you have to wait until your senior year.

What are your goals, swim-wise, after graduation?

I’m going to swim through the summer. They are picking some international teams, Pan-Pac and Pan-American game teams. They aren’t super cool destinations you get to go to, well one of them is Mexico and one is just in California. So last summer my goal was to make the World Championships which were in Rome and I fell short. Just Rome as a destination was incentive. I just want to be a part of a national team. I traveled to Japan a few summers ago and ever since then this hunger has stuck with me to make another team.

What’s the best part about being a UA swimmer outside of the pool?

(Laughs) Something I’m pretty sure nobody else on campus is as comfortable naked as this team is (laughs). I just know at the beginning of the year we go on runs around campus, and I’ll never forget at the beginning of this year I heard people say, ‘Nobody is wearing anything,’ because we are running in our suits and everybody thinks that is a big deal, but on the pool deck it’s really not. I don’t know if that answers the questions, but that is definitely something quirky about swimming. I think swimmers are pretty comfortable in their own skin.

Jordan Smith on the men’s team told me that the best thing was that he never had to mess with his hair because it’s out in the sun all the time so it just sticks where it is.

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s not a good thing for girls. I gave up on hair altogether until I’m done swimming, I just don’t care.

All right, so who wears the Speedos better, the UA guys or girls?

Oh, that’s a tough call. I think every member of this team wears them with swagger (laughs). I think we have the best looking team in the country, so I’m going to say that it is dead even.

Did you do anything exciting over spring break besides breaking an NCAA record?

Umm, no. Pretty much we get to NCAAs that Monday and we don’t finish up until we come back that Sunday, so the whole week is spent there. I had pillow talk with my roommate, that’s probably the most exciting thing.

Are you guys going to make that up or anything, have your own spring break?

Oh, it’s already begun. This week has been exhausting to say the least.

OK, fair enough, at least you got some time. What is your major?

My major is journalism actually.

OK, so does that mean I’m going to have fight for some jobs against you?

That’s right (laughs). I’m going to make you ask the probing questions. Actually, it’s awkward being on this side because I’m used to being able to ask the questions so to come up with the answers on the spot is difficult.

Now you know how everyone else feels.

That’s right.

I’m going to give you the chance to build the perfect guy. You combine different parts from different famous men or whatever you want to do. So what is this guy going to look like, act like?

Well first of all I have a boyfriend and he went to the last Olympics so you would say he is a pretty big deal (laughs). Kind of a big deal and he is pretty close to perfect in my eyes. He treats me like royalty and I couldn’t ask for a better guy. I know that isn’t the answer you are looking for.

Hey, I don’t want to get you in trouble or anything, but that’s a good answer. You kind of answered the question earlier, but what city is better, San Antonio or Tucson?

I’m going to say Tucson. When I go home now, it’s the only other place I’ve lived, so I guess I can’t really compare Tucson to anything else. I just love the weather here, it’s perfect right now anyway, and the mountains. Just being surrounded by this beautiful landscape at all times, I love it.

So where do you stack the swim program up against the other programs at UA?

Well obviously I’m biased, but I think we are the best team on campus. It’s funny because when we are in the weight room the football players act like they own the place. I think swimmers always have to stand up for themselves; we obviously aren’t a money-making sport so our pride doesn’t come from the money we bring in. It comes from the results that we bring in at the end of the year, and I think that gives us tremendous pride every year.

Is there anything as a UA swimmer that you didn’t do that you wanted to accomplish?

I kind of took it year by year so I didn’t come into UA thinking I want to do this, other than win the 100 breaststroke. That was my sole goal and that came true. I think a bonus would have been to make the Olympic team in 2008, but I came closer to that than I think a lot of people believed I could so I’ve loved everything about my experience. I don’t think I would change anything.

All right, well good luck and thanks for taking the time.

Thanks Derek, Bear Down!

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