Oct. 17, 2003
ATLANTA – The 2003-04 swimming and diving season is one week from getting under way at the newly-renovated Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. The Yellow Jackets will host NC State, Saturday, Oct. 25, at Noon, to open up their brand new 1,900 capacity facility. Senior co-captains Itai Eden and Eduardo Oliver, along with junior co-captains Lisa Hancock and Jill Vukmanic recently sat down with RamblinWreck.com and spoke about the new facility and what Jacket fans can expect in 2003-04.
Junior co-captain Jill Vukmanic
Q: What is the team’s attitude heading into this season with the new facility and the meets that will take place there?
Jill Vukmanic: “The new facility has been great. It’s helping us train better and faster than we ever did swimming in the bubble. Everybody is really excited about getting the season started. Everyone has been swimming really fast and to actually get up and swim against another team, is going to be pretty great.”
Q: What are some of the goals for the women’s team heading into this season?
Vukmanic: “We definitely want to improve our dual meet record. Last year we didn’t do as well as we would’ve liked, but we did get one win against Duke. This year we’re looking to beat some more ACC schools and improve at the ACC Championships.”
Q: What are some of your individual goals for this year?
Vukmanic: “Personally I would like to swim a lot faster than ever before. If I can improve my times, than I know I will improve on what I accomplished at last year’s ACC Championships.”
Q: What do you like to do when you are not swimming?
Vukmanic: “I like to go out and enjoy Atlanta.”
Senior co-captain Eduardo Oliver
Q: What is the men’s team outlook heading into this season?
Eduardo Oliver: “Pretty good. We have some very talented freshman that came in this year that will have to replace the best class we’ve probably ever had at Georgia Tech. We’re probably going to be led by Sam Morgan, Matt Figh and Jeremy Raines. Jeremy is the 100-yard backstroke defending ACC champion and hopefully he can repeat that. We’re looking to improve on the amount of guys we qualify for the NCAA Championships. We only have one guy returning from last year, and that is Sam. Overall, I think we look good.”
Q: What are some of your individual goals?
Oliver: “I want to get back from the surgery I had this summer and hopefully be better than I was last year and make the NCAA meet. I want to be top eight in the 500 freestyle and 1650 free at the ACC Championships.”
Q: What is it like to have the new facility and team rooms over at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center?
Oliver: “It’s great. After three years of having to train in the bubble during the winter, we finally get our own locker rooms, a really nice team room, and we finally get to host dual meets at Tech. There are only three people on the team that have ever competed collegiately at Tech, so everybody is real excited about hosting all these dual meets.”
Q: How is your injury and where are you at right now?
Oliver: “I’m trying to get back into shape right. I’m still not where I want to be. Hopefully, by the time ACC’s roll around, I will be where I need to be. It’s kind of hard because of the timing of my injury. I was training for the biggest meet of my life at the Pan American Games (representing Puerto Rico) and then my appendix bursted, so I could not swim for two months, give or take a week, and when I came back, I could barely make it to the other end of the pool. And now, slowly, I’ve been building up. Hopefully I will continue to improve.”
Q: How do the men match up against NC State?
Oliver: “We’ll know better after they face Maryland tomorrow. I think we match up well against them. Last year they beat us in the dual meet when we went up to Raleigh, N.C., so hopefully we will do better this year. Their strengths are our strengths. They have a really good backstroker and we have an outstanding backstroker. Our best guys will be matched with their best guys, which will make for a very interesting meet to watch.”
Senior co-captain Itai Eden
Q: What is the men’s team outlook for the upcoming season?
Itai Eden: “I think the most exciting thing for this year is having as many new swimmers as we do. Compared to the previous teams we’ve had since I’ve been here, we’re a really young team. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, while our junior and senior classes are small, especially the senior class, where we only have three swimmers. Of course we want to win, but I think any kind of improvement we’d be able to make compared to last year would be a huge success. Having this young of a team and graduating that many strong swimmers, just being able to make up that loss, and possibly improving a little bit, would be a success.”
Q: What does it mean to have that type of facility at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center?
Eden: “It’s beautiful. Everybody has been anticipating it, especially the juniors and seniors. We heard about it during our recruiting trips and it just kept getting postponed and postponed. Having seen it, finally, is tremendous. We benefit from it enormously. It gave a boost to the team. It’s noticeable by even just seeing the athletes’ attitude when they come to the Aquatic Center and see such a beautiful facility. Wanting to practice is a nice feeling. It’s nice to have the backing from the Athletic Association and Campus Recreation. Just the fact that everything is new gives us a very positive attitude towards practice.”
Q: What do you enjoy outside of swimming?
Eden: “I have quite a few interests. I’d say I like to watch sports, read books, watch movies and spend time with the people I love.”
Q: What are some of your individual goals?
Eden: “My first two years were pretty good and I looked to my junior season to make more progress. For some reason, mainly my last meet, that did not work out they way I would’ve liked. This is my senior year, my last chance to prove myself, and I want to graduate with as much success as I can. I want to improve my times, score more points at ACC’s and contribute as much as I can to the team. I want to be somebody that the underclassmen can look up to. This will also be the last year of swimming career, probably, so I want it to end on a positive note.”
Junior co-captain Lisa Hancock
Q: What are some of the women’s team goals heading into the 2003-04 season?
Lisa Hancock: “Our team goals are to move up in the ACC. Last year we were sixth, we want to get one, two or even three spots higher than that. Our freshman class has a lot of talent and we think it’s possible.”
Q: What was it like to come to a first-year program and how has it improved in the last two years?
Hancock: “It has its pros and cons. The cons were our freshman year we had nobody to look up to and set the rules so we did what we wanted. But now that we have a lot of juniors on the team, it’s turned into a real team and I’m really glad that I was part of that inaugural season.”
Q: You have an older sister competing at Duke University and a younger brother who will be a freshman on the Virginia swimming and diving team. What was it like competing against them growing up and what is it like swimming against your sister at the ACC Championships?
Hancock: “It was fine. My sister and I always went back and forth, not really caring who won, as long as one of us won. My brother came along behind us and probably has more talent than the both of us.
“It’s a lot of fun because we do a lot of the same races and we’ve raced so many years together. Again, we don’t care who wins, but in a way, we do because of our schools.”
Q: What are some of your personal goals?
Hancock: “Individually I would like to get top eight at ACC’s, better my times and swim faster in-season.”
Q: What do you enjoy outside of swimming?
Hancock: “I like to watch professional baseball, football and all college sports on television.”
Q: What is the most important role of a leader?
Hancock: “It’s easy for me to see the important things because when I was a freshman we didn’t have anybody to look up to. Now that I’m a captain, I know that the freshmen need somebody to show them what’s wrong and what’s right. Basically show them how the swim team works, which is something I didn’t get shown my freshman year.”
Q: Where do you feel the team is at right now heading into the season?
Hancock: “We are very excited. We have six very talented freshmen that we think can help us out tremendously. So we’re very excited to see what they can do, and to see what the upperclassmen can do, because everybody is swimming much faster in practice this year.”