Q&A with Jennings Grant
Senior Jennings Grant is one of eight fourth year members of the Virginia women’s swimming team who recently made history and claimed their fourth consecutive ACC championship. The team is currently preparing for competition in the NCAA Championships, set for March 17-19 in Austin, Texas. Grant, a native of Long Lake, Minn., recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the season, the class of 2011, swimming with her sister at UVa and her future career plans.
Question: What has this season meant to you?
Grant: This season has been unique. Mark (Bernardino) has been telling our class how special we are ever since we arrived. Now all of a sudden we are the oldest and that’s a lot of responsibility. We had a first-year class of 12 and it was exciting to have the opportunity to make history and do a lot of special things. The eight of us have been really close and over my four years – I don’t know where it went. I love all these girls to death.
Question: What about winning your fourth consecutive ACC championship?
Grant: When you look at the score, we really had to fight for it in a different way. The other years – while they were great – we never faced adversity. Mark asked us to dig deep and show everyone that we can win.
Question: What makes your class so special?
Grant: We definitely have a lot of different personalities and people bring out different things in each other. I am involved in a lot of different things and am always going back and forth. But if I ever needed anything I truly feel that I could turn to any one of these girls. They are incredibly reliable and I value that. We all have grown up a lot and one thing we have in common is how much we care about this team and how much we care about leading it.
Question: How did you end up at UVa all the way from Minnesota?
Grant: I grew up in Connecticut and had some family in Virginia, so I always visited UVa. Plus my dad and my uncle both went here. I always loved coming down here. When I got really into swimming I came to swimming camp here and also lacrosse camp – those were my two main sports. All of a sudden, I think I was a sophomore in high school, I knew I wanted to go to UVa and swim. I was able to form relationships early on and I kept in touch with the coaches. I don’t think there is any other place like UVa and I feel really lucky to be here.
Question: What has it been like swimming with your younger sister, Kelly, at UVa?
Grant: It’s been really great. We train in different groups so we don’t practice together that often. My sister and I are best friends. We are really honest with each other. We were roommates this year and lived with two other student-athletes. I love swimming with her; I feel lucky we’ve gotten to share some special moments together.
Question: What is your favorite event to swim? Your best?
Grant: Both are the 200 breast. I like all the breaststroke events and the IM but I feel like I have developed more in the 200 breast. It’s an event that I like – I’m not at all a sprinter. And I have gotten to swim with some amazing girls in the breaststroke group. I have always looked up to Kat McDonnell and Julie McLaughlin and now swimming with Amanda (Faulkner), Kelly (Flynn) and Christine (Olson). We’ve had some fun times in the morning practices. We have a special bond.
Question: What is your major?
Grant: I am an English major with a media studies minor. When I came to UVa I was thinking I really wanted to go into journalism. I started working at NBC 29 over the summer and sort of realized maybe I wanted to be on camera. Every summer I have stayed in Charlottesville and swam and worked at the station. Even when I was interning I realized how much the hands-on aspect appealed to me.
Question: What are your future plans?
Grant: Thankfully I was able to get a job for next year and I am going to be working at Fox Sports Florida in Orlando. Hopefully I will be able to get on screen right away with some Florida or Florida State coverage. It’s going to be a really unique opportunity and I know I’ll grow a lot from going some place new where I don’t know anyone. Plus I will always have Kelly here as an excuse to come visit.
Question: Do you have a dream job?
Grant: Right now I love sports broadcasting because I love sports. Most of my Sundays are consumed with football. But I also think down the road I will be interested in getting into news broadcasting, or even politics. I am a big Fox News and Megan Kelly is a big role model of mine. I don’t know that I will stay in sports forever but broadcasting is what I have in mind.
Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
Grant: Screening terrorism with Professor William Little. He is one of my favorite professors in media studies. At first I was just taking those classes because I liked them but he helped me decide to go into the major. This class looked at terrorism is portrayed in the media and especially the effects of Sept. 11. As someone who grew up in Connecticut and had a dad always in New York City, that kind of hit home for me. I learned a lot about the theories of the modern world and fighting the war on terror.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Grant: Other than hanging out with the girls on the team, I love hanging out with other student-athletes. A lot of my good girlfriends are on other teams. I am also in a sorority – Kappa Alpha Theta – so that has been a good outlet for me. I also have a Madison House little sib and so does my sister. We love them and hang out with them as much as we can. But just hanging out with friends and going to dinner at different places in Charlottesville.
Question: What advice would you give to future Virginia swimmers?
Grant: Because swimming is such a time-consuming sport, it seems silly to say how much it flies by. But it does. Look to your coaches and older teammates for advice. The moments I have had with Mark are invaluable and I am so lucky to have had him as a coach. I don’t think I would have swum for all four years at any other college. He cares a lot about his swimmers. Also I would say know the history about the school. The University of Virginia is a cool place. Even though it’s tempting to stay in the world of swimming, it’s important to reach out. There is a lot here.