Q&A with Taylor Smith
Senior Taylor Smith and the Virginia men’s swimming and diving team competes in its final dual meet of the season this weekend at NC State. The 10th-ranked Cavaliers will take on the Wolfpack at 11 a.m. in Raleigh, N.C. Smith, a native of Saratoga, Calif., recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com talk about preparing for ACCs, his favorite event to swim and his favorite class at UVa.
Question: What is your mentality going into this weekend and also preparing for the ACC Championships?
Smith: Right now we are mostly getting focused. The girls have already started with their meetings and we’ll start up this week, since we’re three weeks out. That is a pretty big marker. We’ll start making the big steps, preparing mentally and focusing on our races.
Question: How would you describe the season up to this point in time?
Smith: It’s been pretty good – unexpectedly good. We started out a little bit rocky but as we went, as it got more challenging, everyone started to step up. At Florida, that was probably our biggest competitor this year, and everyone contributed.
Question: What was senior day like for you?
Smith: It was kind of a shocker! I love this pool and I love being here. I love all these people. So when they were announcing it was my last time competing here – that kind of stinks! But it was a good day.
Question: How did you end up at UVa?
Smith: I met (former Cavalier) Ryan Hurley when he was in town for the Santa Clara International Meet and he told me to take a look. Ryan is a nice guy, so I did. I only had four schools I was really looking at and also UVa is a really good school. I came out here and really fell in love with the history of the school but also the people on the team.
Question: What is your favorite event to swim? Your best?
Smith: It’s been kind of up and down. My second year the mile was definitely my best event by a lot – and I enjoyed it a lot. The 500 freestyle is my favorite event to swim now. It’s a little less strategy, a little more swimming – but the strategy is still there, it’s not quite a sprint.
Question: What are the best and worst parts about being a distance swimmer?
Smith: I like being broken down and feeling the burn. I don’t think you can get the same sense of that in sprint group – there is a lot more dryland work. Only in the distance group are you working to the point where you are just exhausted every day. On the opposite end, we have one more morning a week. You’re a little bit more tired on class days.
Question: What is your major? What are your future plans?
Smith: I am a finance major with a minor in computer science. Hopefully I’m going to do something in banking or consulting. I really want to get into something where I can do both. I am looking into some San Francisco firms that work with technology out there. There are also a lot of them starting up in Charlotte, and I’ve applied to companies in Baltimore, D.C. and New York.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
Smith: I took an intermediate cooperate finance class that was on evaluations. The technical details behind it were interesting but the best part was that my professor pulled me aside and had individual meetings with me. I was always the one who avoided office hours but just talking to him about what you can do outside of the classroom was what made it for me.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Smith: I am kind of a nerd. I like messing around with 3D animation and I just finished building a new computer so I can do a lot more stuff. Also I like wakeboarding a lot. My dad has a lake house that we go to every summer and wakeboard.
Question: What advice would you give to future swimmers who come after you?
Smith: My mistake in my first couple years was not really getting involved enough with the team. They are a lot of fun and they are going to push you in the pool. They are going to be helpful when you go to them for things like picking a class. In and out of the pool, they have been there. Talk to them and make sure you keep the lines of communications open.