Q&A with Mei Christensen
Senior Mei Christensen and the Virginia women’s swimming team takes to the pool beginning Wednesday night at the ACC Championships. The Cavaliers are seeking their third consecutive conference title, a feat never accomplished before. Finals each day will be broadcast free on ACC Select and live results for all sessions will be linked on VirgniaSports.com. Christensen, a native of Reston, Va., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to chat about the pressure of being defending champions, her career as a Cavalier and her advice to future student-athletes.
Question: What is the preparation for the team leading up to ACCs?
Christensen: We have really been focusing on what we want to accomplish. We stopped lifting about a week ago. We are working on the details, working out the kinks. We have also been doing a lot of team activities just with the women’s team to really solidify our team and focus on just the women’s meet. We train all year with the guys but having separate meets really allows us to have time together and focus on that.
Question: You have been defending champions before. Is there added pressure this year trying to do it for a school-record third time in a row?
Christensen: There is just because people talk about the curse of the two wins. But I think if you throw into it, and the same goes for last year, we are going to defend the championship. We have done all we need to do up to this point. Now it’s 0-0. We need to prove ourselves and fight for that win just like always.
Question: Is there pressure for you, individually, after having the meet you had last year?
Christensen: I don’t know. I have thought about it and I will be happy no matter what. It is my last meet. I have made it this far. Nothing is set in stone – I don’t expect to get all the awards and accomplishments I did last year. I am just going to try to swim my best meet and try to enjoy it, whatever the outcome is. But I am going to give it my best.
Question: What are the goals?
Christensen: It’s kind of a team thing, those goals, but obviously our No. 1 goal is to win. We all have certain goals. We also want to repeat the win of each of the relays. That is always a big goal for us to have. And finish with more points than last year.
Question: Does it mean more with the meet being at UNC?
Christensen: I think it does, because we lost there my first year (Virginia was third behind North Carolina and Florida State in 2007). Mark has told us they (UNC) are going to be stronger in their home pool. Everyone knows that. If that makes them fight harder, that means they will be pushing us to do better.
Question: How would you describe your career at Virginia?
Christensen: It is an indescribable experience. Every year is different and I can’t believe it has been four. Every year is a different team. When you find your team dynamic and work toward your goals, it just keeps getting better and better.
Question: Is this the most talented team you have been on?
Christensen: I think so. We have a couple first years who are just sheer talent and I think that with how hard we all work, every year it gets more and more competitive, just within our own team. People have said put us in our own pool and we’ll have the best races, just racing ourselves and I think that just shows what a great team we have.
Question: What is next for you after graduation?
Christensen: I don’t know. I have a lot of opportunities out there to look at. My No. 1 focus is of course school. I’m doing a five-year master’s program, so that’s my number one priority. I have class in May and student teaching in the fall so I’ll have to work my schedule around that.
Question: What advice would you give to swimmers who come in after you?
Christensen: Enjoy the time you have. It’s hard and takes a lot of effort and dedication, but looking back, it’s an experience you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. You’re always surprised how fast it flies by. The girls in my year and even the whole team have become my closest friends. It’s just an enjoyable experience, even through the hard practices and early mornings. You’ll look back at it and remember the good things.
Question: What will you remember the most?
Christensen: All the best moments. Being there with my teammates on the relay, winning the relays, celebrating when we won ACCs, going on to NCAAs – all the great moments, those will stick out in my memory.