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Welcome, To The Sunshine State

Jan. 7, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

The Georgia Tech Men’s and Women’s swim teams have been back on campus about a week…and a very busy one, at that.

“Basically all they’re doing is eating and sleeping and swimming,” said Georgia Tech Head Swimming Coach Courtney Shealy Hart. “They’ve been working really, really hard. We’ve been in the water at least five hours a day and doing weights about an hour. So they’re pretty tired but they know what the end goal is, that’s the ACCs and the NCAAs.”

Sounds like the perfect time to go on a road trip!

And where better to go than Florida? It’s warm, certainly warmer than Atlanta, and boasts perfect swimming weather.

Turns out, that’s exactly where they’re going, specifically to Gainesville and Tallahassee, the campuses of the University of Florida and Florida State University.

Of course, this road trip won’t be R&R — unless that means racing and racing.

Coach Hart’s teams will face off against the Gators Friday (beginning at 5:00 p.m.) and the Seminoles (Saturday at 1:00 p.m., North Carolina-Wilmington also is competing). It’s just what the doctor ordered as a pre-ACC check-up.

“The University of Florida women are National Champions so I think it will be great for our team to get to race against the reigning National Champions,” said Hart. “They do a great job with their program. I’m looking forward to seeing where we are. Hopefully we’ll be faster than we were last semester as we start competing in the championship season.”

Then there’s ACC rival Florida State, who the Jackets saw during the Georgia Tech Invitational in mid-November and will see again in February at the ACC Championships to be held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center — the women’s ACCs are Feb. 16-19, the men’s the following weekend.

While familiarity is supposed to breed contempt, in this case, it’s hoped to actually provide an advantage.

“I think that having seen them and just being a part of competition with them before is always helpful,” said Hart. “They might change a few things and we might change a few things, but for the most part, you know what they’re going to do so you can kind of mentally prepare for that and be ready to go.”

Lexi Weber certainly is.

The sophomore sprinter (50M, 100M, 200M freestyle) will try to build off the GT Invitational, where she set three personal bests, including a 50:12 time in the 100-meters, the second-fastest time in Georgia Tech history.

“It’s always refreshing to see that I can do well in the middle of the year and it’s something I’m going to take into training for ACCs that I have come this far so far,” she said. “I’m really interested to see what kind of times I can put up in February.”

First, though, there’s this weekend against heavyweights UF and FSU.

“It prepares us for what we need to know for our big competition,” Weber said. “It’s always good practice to swim against teams like UF because they have a lot of Olympians and a lot of nationally acclaimed swimmers. So to get at the level I want to be at by my senior year or later on, I love getting that practice against UF and, of course, going to FSU is great practice for ACCs.”

The Cumming, Ga., native looked very much the veteran at her first ACCs last year, where, the freshman set a personal best in the 200M free (1:49.81), while also participating in the success of the 800M free relay (sixth, 7:18.42), 400M free relay (seventh, 3:21.69), and 200M free relay (ninth, 1:33.00).

Tech has three more meets prior to ACCs after this weekend, time for Weber, who admitted that she was sick some during the break, which hindered her training a little, to get herself right and be on schedule to deliver her best times.

“I definitely set time goals for myself,” she said. “Usually they’re just goals for ACCs at the end of the season. Of course I want to be breaking my best times in the middle of the season if I can, but my biggest concern is the times I can go at ACCs. I usually want to drop a certain amount of seconds, one to two, depending on the event. So every year I try to lower my time by one to two seconds.”

Hart feels Weber is on her way and has set the bar high for her as she winds up her second year.

“Lexi has done a great job for us freshman and through this first semester,” she said. “She has some lifetime best times already. So I’m looking forward to her getting faster and becoming a leader on this team by what she does in the pool. I’m excited for her and, again, I’m looking forward to her continuing that and continuing to get faster.”

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