Q&A with John Azar
Senior John Azar and the Virginia men’s swimming team begins its quest for the ACC Championships Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. The Cavaliers are seeking their third consecutive conference title. Finals each day will be broadcast free on ACC Select and live results for all sessions will be linked on VirgniaSports.com. Azar, a native of El Paso, Texas, recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the upcoming championships, what he will remember most about being a Cavalier and his plans after graduation.
Question: You are going into ACCs as defending champions, but you’ve been there before. What is the difference this year?
Azar: I think this past week we’ve all been getting really focused, getting ready for what we need to do. We know that we’re not in our home pool. We’re in our biggest rival’s pool and everyone’s going to be fired up. Their fans are going to be screaming over our heads and were right under their stands, so we have to focus our intensity so that we don’t get crazy. We’ve been tapering lately so we have all this energy, but we need to keep it calm and focused so we can swim our fastest there.
Question: What are you going to have to do to win?
Azar: Everyone’s going to have to swim their lifetime best in their races. The first years are going to have to step up to show why they’re here.
Question: Does past ACC championships experience come into play here?
Azar: Experience definitely comes into play. We know what to expect. We know that feeling when you get in there, not to be intimidated and how to handle yourself before and after your races. It’s nice knowing exactly what to do and that confidence helps you race fast.
Question: Is there extra pressure from being the two-time defending champions?
Azar: It’s definitely a pressure we put on ourselves. We have that every year, but it is definitely harder to repeat than it is to take it from someone else, I think. We need to maintain focus and keep in mind that everyone’s hunting, trying to get our title.
Question: Is it fun to go into meets like this needing to step it up?
Azar: Absolutely. During the year we’re not exactly tapered. We’re tired, we have to get ourselves up there mentally. Now our bodies are ready. We’re ready to swim fast and see what we can do and what we’ve trained all year for.
Question: What will you remember the most about swimming here?
Azar: The feeling after you win when you’re next to your brothers on the team who you’ve done everything with all year. That’s the moment that you’ve all been working for. I can’t wait to feel it again this year.
Question: What are you doing after you graduate?
Azar: When I graduate, I plan on moving to New York and working for a PR firm up there. It should be fun, and I’m excited for it.
Question: What’s your career goal?
Azar: I find that work is work so anything you can kind of enjoy and make a good amount of money to support a family and enjoy a good lifestyle I’m fine with. I don’t really have a dream job. New York is fast-paced and it’s fun. I just want to be up there in the thick of it.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
Azar: My favorite class at UVa has been Principles of Nutrition. It’s a biology class I took last year and it’s a lot of fun. I started out pre-med so I enjoy learning about the human body and such, and I feel it’s actually helped me at swimming too, to learn nutrition. It’s nice to learn knowledge that I can actually keep in my head instead of forgetting right away like my other classes.
Question: What is your favorite spot on Grounds?
Azar: I definitely spend a lot of time at the pool. Although to be honest, it’s the hot tub. It is in the pool, but it’s that hot tub because it means practice is over.