Le is set to swim the 200 IM (Thursday), 100 back (Friday) and 200 back (Saturday) in Indianapolis next week
March 20, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- With the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Swimming & Diving Championships set to begin next Thursday (March 28), in Indianapolis, MissouriStateBears.com sat down with NCAA qualifier Paul Le to find out more about the sophomore's preparation and expectations for the championship meet. Le joined elite company, becoming the sixth Bear to qualify for NCAAs and the first since Matt Beasley in 2005.
MissouriStateBears.com: Give us a brief rundown of what was going through your mind after the 200 backstroke prelims swim that led to the NCAA berth?
Le: "Right after that race whenever I touched that wall, I was like, "Oh man, that hurt." I didn't realize what time I had to go to make NCAAs. I know that I didn't make the A cut, but the NCAAs take the top 30 and I was fast enough for me to be taken. After that race, it hurt a lot. Just looking at my coach and everybody going crazy, I felt relief and it was worth the pain."
MissouriStateBears.com: What is the biggest difference between yourself as a freshman last season and now as a sophomore?
Le: "I guess you can say I'm more mature now. My swim team probably doesn't think so, but you could say I'm more mature swimming-wise. I've been taking it more seriously. I know this team has gone so fast and has so much more potential and I should start stepping up my game. I've never trained so hard."
MissouriStateBears.com: What has your training regimen looked like since finishing up the MAC Championships?
Le: "Training for the NCAA Championships, I've been swimming by myself. I'm still swimming tapered and practice still hurts a lot, but I guess that's what you have to deal with. Swimming hard still and hopefully I'll get rested and swim fast."
MissouriStateBears.com: This is your first trip to the NCAA Championships, what are your goals heading into the meet?
Le: "Basically try to go faster than what I did at conference. Represent MSU and hopefully try to make it back into finals, so I can let all the other colleges know that Missouri State is here to race fast and that our program is starting to keep up with theirs. Swim fast and hopefully make it back to final since all of my family is coming. I don't want to let them down."
MissouriStateBears.com: With this being your first appearance at the NCAA Championships, how are you adjusting to still being in season at this time of year?
Le: "While everybody was away for Spring Break, I had to stay here by myself and train with a couple of swimmers that didn't go home. It's just really hard training by yourself and not getting pushed by others. Going on Facebook, everybody is at the beach having fun and I'm stuck here training in season still. It's just really hard training by myself, but it will be worth it."
MissouriStateBears.com: What kind of advice has the Missouri State coaching staff given you throughout your preparation for the NCAA Championships?
Le: "Focus more. Just work on your technique. Don't change how I swam at conference."
MissouriStateBears.com: You had the opportunity to swim at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials last June, how do you expect next week's NCAAs to compare to your Olympic Trials experience?
Le: "Hopefully I won't add time like I did at Trials. I made it there. I'm not going to expect to get first, but I'm already 18th. Hopefully, I'll move up from there. I've got nothing to lose."
MissouriStateBears.com: You are just the sixth athlete from the MSU swimming & diving program to qualify for the big meet. What does this mean for the direction the program going forward?
Le: "We have a really young team. It just gives me goosebumps, because everybody was going so fast in season, everybody raced so fast at conference and we just came up a little short. It excites me for where the program is going. I can't wait to see my junior and senior year and how many people go to NCAAs."