A Conversation with Matt McLean and Liz Shaw
Virginia natives Matt McLean and Liz Shaw both put up outstanding performances during their freshmen campaigns as members of the Virginia swimming team. McLean, from Sterling, Va., was named not only the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2008, but also was awarded the conference’s top honor as the Swimmer of the Year. Shaw, a Richmond, Va., native, was named ACC Rookie of the Year on the women’s side. The two first-years took time to sit down with VirginiaSports.com to take a look back at the season and a look ahead at their summer plans.
Question: How was your first season of swimming at Virginia? Now that the season was over, was it everything you thought it would be?
McLean: Any club program you come from can’t be as good as training with a team as tightly-knitted as this one. Having people to train with and having people push you every day just can’t be beat. It was everything I had hoped for.
Shaw: Before I came to school I didn’t really know what to expect. But being here, it was more than I could have hoped for. I always have someone to train with and everyone works so hard every single day. I couldn’t ask for anything else.
Question: What did it mean to you to win the ACC Rookie of the Year award? And Matt, for you to be one of only two people to win both the Rookie of the Year and Swimmer of the Year awards in the same season.
McLean: Yeah, (former Virginia swimmer) Fran Crippen was the other. To get an award like that and to share it with someone like Fran, who represents Virginia swimming so well, was a huge honor. And I couldn’t have done it without the team either.
Shaw: I was really honored. I couldn’t have done it without any of my teammates, so I really owe it all to them.
Question: Are you both now training for the Olympic Trials? What events will you be competing in?
McLean: I am doing the 100, 200 and 400 free and right now I think the 400 is my best race. I am so pumped.
Shaw: I am swimming 100 and 200 fly and 200 and 400 IM. I feel like I can drop some time based on how we have all been training. Plus we have so many people that have made cuts. We are all going to be there and that is going to make it so much more exciting.
McLean: When you have people like Liz that work hard it just pays off 10 times more. She will be ready to go. Watch out.
Question: Now that your first year on Grounds is winding down, what would you say your favorite class has been?
McLean: My favorite class was Drugs, Wars and Politics. My professor was really good plus the topic has always been interesting to me.
Shaw: I think I would have to say my criminology class last semester. It was pretty interesting and the professor was hilarious. I laughed every single day. He made it so fun.
Question: What do you guys like to do for fun?
McLean: Listen to 80s music.
Shaw: Oh yeah. We totally rock the 80s music. I’ve always liked the old stuff. Some people can appreciate the well-known stuff, but I feel like a lot of them don’t know what goes on.
McLean: We play Guitar Hero and Rock Band. When I am at home I like working on cars.
Shaw: I like taking naps, although I don’t do that as much as I used to.
McLean: I love naps. I like eating.
Question: What is your favorite 80s song?
McLean: You go first on this one.
McLean: I think we are going to have to list a couple off here. And some of them will be mutual. (pause) “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
Shaw: Oh yeah. (pause) “Call On Me.”
McLean: Definitely “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden.
Shaw: “Sweet Dreams are Made of This” by the Eurythmics. That is a good song.
McLean: When did that Cher song come out?
Shaw: That was during her comeback era.
Question: How about favorite dining hall food?
Shaw: That’s tough. I’ve been on a soup fix lately. I go through phases where I am obsessed with a certain food and then I eat so much of it that I get sick of it.
McLean: That happened to me with oatmeal. Brown sugar and cinnamon. But I think my favorite dining hall food is stir-fry.
Question: Favorite spot on Grounds?
McLean: The pool.
Shaw: The pool? No. (pause) It’s clichd but I love the Lawn. I also like the amphitheater when it’s warm out. I can sit there between classes and just hang out and veg, listen to my iPod.
Question: Matt, do you have a tattoo already?
McLean: Yeah, I got it right when I got back from NCAAs. It didn’t hurt at all. A lot of us have them.
Shaw: It’s a boy thing.
McLean: It is. But for me, I am really big on tradition. It shows how tight we are, like one big family.
Question: What are your plans for the summer?