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Sophomore swimmer Rachel Naurath finished her freshman campaign as the ACC champion in the 200 butterfly and a honorable mention All-American in the 500 freestyle, as well as the lead-off swimmer for Virginia’s conference champion and All-America 800 freestyle relay team. She competed for Team USA at the World University Games in China in August, one of four Cavaliers at the meet, joining Matt McLean, David Karasek and Katya Bachrouche. Naurath recently sat down with to talk about the end of her freshman season and her trip to China.

Question: How was your first year at UVa?
I loved every minute of it. I had the best time. It was a little more challenging than I first thought because I had no idea what to expect as far as classes and schoolwork. It took me a semester to get in the swing of things. Second semester, my grades were a lot better and it was easier going forward. I am excited for this year because I know what to expect. It was a tough year; practices were challenging but I enjoyed them a lot. Swimming in the championship meets – at ACCs and NCAAs – doesn’t even compare to the high school meets. The atmosphere and energy was amazing.

Question: What was the feeling of winning your first individual ACC championship in the 200 butterfly?
I can’t really even tell you what I was thinking during the race. Every day (at ACCs) it was 0-0 and that’s how we took it, but that day we were on fire. Meredith Cavalier started the day for us with an amazing swim that just pumped everybody up and I went out and just raced. I had fun. It was unbelievable to have a finish like that with Claire (Crippen) and Liz (Shaw) and Riley (Flanagan) all right there with me. It was one of the best memories I have from my first year.

Question: What did you do after NCAAs?
I stayed here over the summer so after school ended, we went to the Charlottte Ultraswim and then I went home for a little bit. I stayed here and trained which I think was the best decision I could have made. It was really different, just a different group of people, and I love long course swimming so we got to do a lot of that. We didn’t split up too much so I got to train with everyone. I talked to the coaches and our gameplan was to not have me fully rested for nationals.

Question: How was U.S. Nationals? You finaled in the 400 and 800 freestyle and swam in the consolation final of the 200 butterfly and 200 freestyle.
When I arrived at nationals I was pretty geared up even though I wasn’t fully rested. My mentality was sort of just that I was going to go for it and see what happens. I swam pretty well; I was really happy with my freestyles. I was not very happy with my butterflies.

Question: What was your take on the day where you had three races and swam both the 200 butterfly and 800 freestyle?
I swam the 200 butterfly in the morning and it wasn’t very good. So I talked with Doak (Finch) and we decided to swim the 800 free in the middle and then the 200 fly again at night. It was kind of a preparation for what’s to come when I swim both those events at ACCs and NCAAs. It was tougher because it was outside so I was pretty drained.

Question: What was after nationals?
I stayed out in California for a few days and hung out with some of the Georgia swimmers after nationals and trained with the team. We left for China a few days later. I have never been on a flight that long! It was 13 hours to China. I tried not to sleep very much so I could adjust to the time change. We flew into Hong Kong and then had to go through customs. Then we drove for an hour and went through customs in China and drove for another hour before we made it to the village. The good news was I got a lot of stamps in my passport.

Question: What was the meet like at World University Games?
The swimming part was unbelievable. It was a little different because the meet wasn’t organized by FINA. The first day it started 45 minutes early so it was a little crazy. But it got figured out after that. The pools were unbelievably nice. The stands were packed. Everyone was so friendly. I had never been to a meet where there were that many nations represented either. It was cool to meet a lot of people from all over the world. I tried to talk to the French team and used my French a little. Finals sessions were pretty amazing. I loved the coaching staff and support staff that we had with us.

Question: What was your overall impression of China?
I had never been and probably wouldn’t have gone if not for this. There are so many things you hear about and then seeing them in person is such a different thing. We took a bus into the town and you would pass sweatshops. Everyone lives in high rises; we didn’t see a single house. We walked around to the market a few times. It was super crowded but it was pretty quiet. All the people were really friendly. I took a lot of random pictures.

Question: What did you take away from the summer?
Truth be told, I didn’t swim as well as I wanted. But I am really proud of the body of work I put in and I know that will really help me going into this season. I am excited to be back in the water. I really want to focus on my butterfly. I am pretty pumped to start getting ready for (Olympic) Trials, but even more so, I am looking forward to ACCs and NCAAs. I will know what to expect this time and I think it will go a lot smoother.

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