Q&A with Amanda Faulkner
Senior Amanda Faulkner and the No. 11 Virginia women’s swimming and diving team continues dual meet competition this weekend at 12 p.m. Saturday at Pittsburgh. Faulkner, a native of Louisville, Ky., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to chat about senior day, the class of 2011, her love for politics and her advice to future swimmers.
Question: Describe the feeling last weekend with a huge comeback win over UNC.
Faulkner: The Carolina meet is my favorite meet every year. Our first year the UVA-UNC dual meet was the most exciting meet that I have ever been a part of, and we have all been to Olympic Trials, NCAA Championships and ACC Championships. The team was so intense and excited – it was indescribable. And this year was the first year that really rivaled that first meet because it was the closest it’s been. It was scary at times; we did not have it locked at the beginning of the day. But we got to watch the team come together and deal with the adversity of being behind going into the last two races. It was fun to be a part of that 200 IM.
Question: And what about senior day on Sunday against Duke?
Faulkner: For me senior day didn’t really sink in, I was just kind of there with everyone running through the tunnel. I feel like I still belong as a first year. All the fourth years that I was a first year with were here and I felt like I was a first year again. It was all surreal.
Question: What are you looking to get out of the Pitt meet this weekend?
Faulkner: Mark (Bernardino) is still trying to decide who the final 18 (for the ACC Championships) are going to be. It is another chance to prepare for ACCs and something we are taking seriously.
Question: Describe the class of 2011 a little bit. The year before you got here, UVa was 39th at the 2007 NCAA Championships. Now you are a top-10 team.
Faulkner: That just gave me chills. It’s really special to know what the eight of us have been through together. And there certainly have been ups and downs. We are the closest group of eight girls that you can imagine and we are proud to say we are part of this team. It’s crazy how far this team has come. I joke around a lot throughout this season but I have been known to turn into a different person when we get to ACCs.
Question: Has there been a highlight?
Faulkner: Probably the three-peat last year and that fact that we could win four. We don’t have it locked but the fact that we have a chance to win four in a row is definitely a highlight.
Question: What is your favorite event to swim? What is your best?
Faulkner: Mark (Bernardino) seems to think my best event is the 400 IM and I certainly don’t enjoy that. My best is the 200 IM and I that’s also my favorite. You have a chance to do all four strokes but when your muscles get tired from one stroke you can just move on to the next. Butterfly is my total weakness so the 200 IM gives me a chance to get that over with and then catch up.
Question: How did you end up at UVa?
Faulkner: I had some recruiting trips planned and I knew UVa was a really good school, especially for politics. At the time, the program wasn’t really much to blink an eye at, but I didn’t want to go to a school where I would be the bottom of the pack. I wanted to be at a school where I could contribute and really enjoy the sport. It was a pretty easy decision for me once I got here. I was here for an hour and knew this was it.
Question: What will your degree be in and what are your future plans?
Faulkner: My degree is in politics and my number one requirement is that I want to be in D.C. That is the only certainty right now. Down the road, I think I will end up in law school, but right now I am ready to get a job, make a change and be in a different city for a little bit. I am looking for jobs in D.C. but not being all that picky. I would love to do something in government consulting or work on the Hill.
Question: What did you learn the most from your internship last summer?
Faulkner: Relationships are key in everything. It was really neat to see all of the legislation that was going through and the faces in the halls. The biggest thing is that this is the time in your life when you should meet as many people as you can and really learn from everyone.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
Faulkner: I’ve had a lot of really good ones. I had one called public choice that was a cross between economics and politics. I had a philosophy class called justice and health care that was really interesting with what’s been going on. Then I took a seminar last semester where we ran a mock campaign, and that was right up my alley.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Faulkner: I am in the guide service and so that’s been really fun for me. I love this place so much – there is so much history here. I love hanging out with my friends. If I were not in politics, and if I thought it was realistic at all, I would open up my own clothes boutique because I love shopping and fashion.
Question: What advice would you give to future swimmers?
Faulkner: Embrace your team. I know that’s really vague and broad. From my personal experience, swimming is a sport where you’re doing it 20-25 hours a week and it demands you to be staring at a black line for two hours at a time. It’s easy to get really burnt out. My run through wasn’t perfect – I had a serious burnout at the beginning of my third year. My team surrounded me and was totally supportative and I have them to thank for why I’m still swimming.