Oct. 21, 2003
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech swimming and diving teams will unveil its new facility this weekend as NC State comes to Atlanta for an Atlantic Coast Conference match-up in the newly-renovated Georgia Tech Aquatic Center on Saturday, Oct. 25, at Noon.
The Tech men are coming off its fifth straight year of finishing in the top four at the ACC Championships and the women improved two spots at last year’s ACC meet. With good recruiting classes and solid returning letterwinners on both sides, the Jackets look to make some noise at the conference and national scenes.
Head coach Seth Baron sat down and talked about the match up this Saturday with NC State and how the preseason training has gone for the Yellow Jackets. Here is some of what he had to say:
Q: How is everything going and are the athletes where the coaching staff wants them to be at this point, one week shy of the regular season?
Seth Baron: “Practices have been excellent. One of the things that we were hoping for and we’re actually starting to see it, is that the environment of this new facility is really breeding a positive attitude. You come here everyday, it’s a beautiful place to be and promotes that positive enthusiasm and it’s been carried from one group to the next, sprint, distance to middle distance and so on. Everyone has approached practice with a very positive attitude, and quiet frankly, some of the swims we’ve seen at practice have been very good. The level of intensity is very high, a lot higher than we’ve seen in the past, and we can only hope that it will translate into swimming faster times at the end of the season. We’ve been very pleased with where we’re at with practice and the preparation for our athletes going into this early part of the season.”
Q: How did the alumni react when they came to this brand new facility?
Coach Baron: “The response was so much greater than any of us expected. First of all, we had, I think, 40 alums come back for alumni weekend, which is greater than what the coaching staff had anticipated. We thought maybe we’d get 20, or 25, because this was the first time we had ever done an alumni weekend, and we had 40. Every single person that I spoke to after the alumni meet, or e-mails that I received after the weekend, were positively through the roof. Not just about the facility and where the team was going, they were greatly appreciated for being remembered. Being involved and having an opportunity to come back to Georgia Tech and we made sure that the first group of athletes that truly competed in this pool were the alumni. That’s why we did the Alumni vs. Varsity meet as the first meet here at the pool. We felt that it was the alums that came before us who are getting us to where we’re going now.
“The expectation of the alumni meet the next time we have one, which will happen every two years, will more than double the number of participants from this year. I hope they are right because it was a very fun weekend. We went to the football game, we had a social after the game and just the whole weekend of activities and events for them surpassed everyone’s expectations, the coaching staff included.”
Q: What does it mean for this program to host its first dual match in the newly-renovated Georgia Tech Aquatic Center and what does it mean to the athletes?
Coach Baron: “Everyone is optimistic and very excited. It’s a brand new facility, it’s a new season and there’s always a ton of enthusiasm at the beginning of a new season. I think that’s true in any sport.
“Expectations are high! There’s a lot of positive energy heading into our season. We’ve got to get up. As nice as our facility is and as great as our practices have been going, we have to stand on that starting block and perform when that gun goes off. We’ve got some really good, talented teams coming into our facility and they will be just as excited as us to be competing in this pool. For the first time since I’ve been here, we have to defend a home turf. I think it’s going to promote some great dual meets and if everything goes well, hopefully, we will be on the winning end of that.
“We are bringing in some nationally prominent schools and some very talented Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. So there are high levels of enthusiasm and a whole lot of get up and go. We’ve been training now for quite some time and we have yet to, other than our alums, stepped up on the blocks and swim against somebody else. That’s the biggest thing we’re looking forward to. Some of the other ACC schools have started to have some dual meet competitions and our athletes have seen those results so they’re getting a little antsy. They want to now get up and show the conference what they are capable of doing, and next Saturday, they will have their opportunity.”
Q: What about the match between NC State and Georgia Tech this Saturday?
Coach Baron: “This is going to be a great match-up. On the men’s side last year, we were fourth and they were fifth. On the women’s side, we were sixth and they were seventh. You’re talking about two teams that are evenly matched in my opinion. NC State did not graduate anyone on the men’s side this year and we lost eight guys, six to graduation and two to the Israeli military. It’s going to be good a good one. It’s going to be a situation where we’re going to have to rely on some of the youth of our program to step up and compete maybe at a higher level than they’ve ever competed before, and rely on the leaders of this team to provide the necessary leadership for the young squad that we have.
“On the women’s side, it’s going to be very evenly matched. Last year NC State beat the men and the women in dual meets, only to see us come back and beat them at the ACC Championships. It’s a pretty good rivalry. It’s an ACC opponent and any conference opponent, you consider a rival. I don’t expect anything but their best when they step in here Oct. 25. Bottom line is I expect a very tough, challenging dual meet from NC State. I would be hard pressed to predict what the outcome is going to be, but I know it’s going to be a very good dual meet on both sides.”