Seniors see final home meet as opportunity to have fun

For every beginning there is an end. And for 12 members of the UK swimming and diving team, that end comes Saturday as they compete in their final meet at UK’s Lancaster Aquatic Center.

Some of the swimmers had mixed reactions about the team’s senior meet.

“I want to swim really fast in my events for one more time in this pool because we’ll never get to race in this pool again,” said senior Jennifer Bradford.

Others just want to enjoy their last home meet.

“I’m not looking to put a whole lot of pressure on myself,” said senior Will Vietti. “I’d rather just swim fast and swim some fun events, have a good time with it. It’s not a big deal to me, senior meet.”

“I just want to have fun,” said senior Heather Bradford. “I asked (head coach) Gary (Conelly) if I could swim an off event, just to have fun with it.”

History is on the Cats side when facing the University of Cincinnati, the team’s opponent in Saturday’s competition. The women have won the last 13 meets against the Bearcats while the men have won the last eight. That success has given UK confidence, Conelly said.

“There will be some real good races, but they really don’t have the depth to compete with us,” Conelly said.

“We’ll probably pick and choose our events a little bit more,” he said. “Cincinnati has some real good swimmers but they’re not real deep so we go into the meet a little more focused on swimming specific events fast.”

With the event choice up in the air, some of the seniors will be able to swim events they have not competed in since coming to college.

“I could be swimming some fun events, ones I haven’t swam since high school,” Vietti said. “I’m kind of excited; I haven’t swam some of these in so long. To see what I can do, see how much I’ve improved over the span of four years (is exciting).”

But the fact that it will be senior night does not mean the team will be losing sight of the bigger picture. The Southeastern Conference Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are less than a month away and then the NCAA Championships follow soon after.

“We’re more excited for the SECs than our last dual meet, obviously,” said senior Kristian Outinen. “You have SECs in the back of your mind.”

Conelly agreed that UK’s focus remains on the postseason.

“Dual meet season is really a preparation to get ready to swim fast at conference and NCAAs,” Conelly said. “Competitively, we all want to win the dual meets but we’re all much more concerned with doing well at our conference meets and doing well at the NCAA Championships.”