Q&A with Matt Houser
Junior Matt Houser and the Virginia men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams travel to Navy Friday for the first dual meet of the season. The meet will begin at 4 p.m. in Annapolis, Md. Houser, a native of Greenville, N.C., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about training, his school record in the 200 IM, how he ended up at UVa and his favorite class.
Question: Are you ready for the first meet of the season Friday vs. Navy?
Houser: It’s kind of weird that our first meet is so late in the season, relatively speaking. We raced Florida much earlier last year and got a little better sense of where we were training-wise and what we needed to work on. Now we’ve gone a lot farther into it; but we’re just ready.
Question: What has training been like leading up to the first dual meet?
Houser: Mark (Bernardino) doesn’t like us using the word ‘hard.’ So I’d say it’s been tough. Difficult. We’ve been getting in a very strong aerobic base and just started to work on some speed Saturday. We will work on that more from here on out but we’ve really tried to bang out some yards to get a good aerobic base so we can finish our races.
Question: Going back to NCAAs in March, you set the school record in the 200 IM and picked up two honorable mention All-America honors. What was that experience like for you?
Houser: I had one goal going into the meet and that was the school record in the 200 IM. I knew I could do it but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I figured if there was a time to do it, it might as well be in the morning (during preliminaries) that way I don’t have time to worry about it. I was probably the most ‘in the zone’ I’ve ever been behind the blocks before that race. I just told myself it was another race but that I’d have to go a little faster than usual. When I saw I had broken it I was quite surprised. The 400 IM has historically been my stronger of the two IMs so I knew if I could have a good 200 IM race I could make it back in the 400 IM.
Question: How have you improved as a swimmer from where you were as a first year?
Houser: I have learned to value racing in practice a lot more. In high school, on IM and stroke sets, I didn’t have anybody to race. It was myself and Lauren (Perdue) and she would race me on the freestyle sets but there was nobody on the other sets. If I was feeling it that day I would go really fast, if I wasn’t, you couldn’t really tell as much because there wasn’t anybody there to beat me. There are guys coming at you from all angles here and I have really learned to value that and try to win every race in practice.
Question: What is your favorite event to swim?
Houser: My favorite event is the 200 IM. That was the case even before I got the record – that just happens to add a little bit more to it. It’s the only true sprint I do so in that sense I enjoy it.
Question: What brought you to UVa?
Houser: The team, especially the men’s team. I felt like they weren’t putting on a show for me on my recruiting trip; they were the real deal. I felt like I would be immediately welcomed into the family, which was the case. Anytime a recruit asks me why I came here, that is the answer I give them every time.
Question: Have you thought about what you want to major in yet?
Houser: Psychology. I want to go into the field of social work after I graduate. I want to be some sort of sports psychologist or something along those lines. I’ve always enjoyed listening to people – listening to their problems, trying to help them out.
Question: What has been your favorite class?
Houser: My favorite class has probably been abnormal psych. It goes through all of the mental illnesses and their causes. It was just very interesting to learn about everything that’s out there.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Houser: Movies are a big thing, and also Call of Duty. V for Vendetta, Rocky IV, Armageddon, I am Number 4. I would recommend Fast 5 and Thor. A lot of people didn’t like Thor but I did.
Question: What are your goals for this season and what are the team’s goals?
Houser: The team’s goals are the same: win ACCs and place in the top-10 nationally. We want to try for a repeat placing at NCAAs. We lost a lot of big point scorers so others and myself are going to need to step up. I think a lot of people have potential. My goals are to move on to the 400 IM school record and possibly join the 800 freestyle relay.