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Sophomore Rachel Naurath and the 11th-ranked Virginia women’s swimming team heads to Christiansburg, Va., this week for the ACC Championships. The meet begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday with two relay events and a webcast all finals sessions on Thursday through Saturday will be available live on Naurath, a native of Manakin-Sabot, Va., recently sat down with to talk about the season, the uniqueness of the conference meet, her major and what she likes to do for fun.

Question: What has the season been like up to this point in time?
The best way to describe it is putting money in the bank. We have spent the whole year getting ready for the end of the season. We started off with really high intensity, a lot of long course, getting quickly back into shape. We amped things up a lot around Christmas; definitely more than we did last year. It’s been really good, quality work. We are tapering down after so much hard work, and it’s exciting to know that’s all behind us. Now comes the reward.

Question: For someone who has never been to the ACC Championships, how would you describe that meet and that environment?
It is the most exciting thing you’ve done plus so much more. It’s so different from any other kind of meet. The atmosphere is so electric. You walk in for the first time with your team and you are together the whole time. It’s special for me because I grew up loving the ACC. My mom went to Duke. It’s a really special conference. All the teams are really close and really good. We know we are going to face some unbelievable competition and knowing that going in also contributes to the atmosphere. It’s like nothing you’ve ever been a part of before.

Question: Having competed at ACCs once already, does that help in that you know what to expect this time around?
I think I’m even more excited this year. I’m much more confident just because I know what is going to happen and how it’s going to work. It’s definitely a lot easier going in for the second, third, fourth time. That doesn’t take away any of the excitement though.

Question: Do you feel like there is a target on your back having won the last four ACC titles?
We are walking in defending our legacy a little bit, which many people have contributed to in the past, but we are building our own now. That said, we are not going to walk into that building thinking we have it won. We have to walk in there being the hunters and not the hunted. Our quest started the last day of ACCs last year; it has been a constant thing on our minds. We are ready for it and we aren’t taking anything for granted. It’s an entirely different game now.

Question: What is your favorite event to swim and what is your best?
I would say the 100 butterfly is my favorite because it’s short and sweet at to the point. I still love the butterfly even though it’s not as good as it used to be right now! My best is probably the 500 freestyle because it’s the perfect distance for me. I am able to carry my speed for that amount of time better than in a mile or in a shorter distance.

Question: What was your recruiting process like and how did you end up at UVa?
My recruiting process was awesome and I enjoyed every second of it. I took all five of my trips: UVa, Florida, Princeton, Texas and Stanford. I really did not find anything like the team I found here. I love that we train together. I’ve always trusted the coaches – I’ve known Mark (Bernardino) for awhile. I really found something different than I expected, too, because the teams are so close. It’s very clichéd but we really are a family. I was very attracted to the academics as well. Virginia has really strong departments in both my majors. There is something special here that I just didn’t find anywhere else.

Question: What are you majoring in?
I am a double major in French and foreign affairs. I have actually been taking French since the second grade. I wanted to major in foreign affairs and it just made sense to do a double major. I have always been interested in other countries and cultures and how our government interacts with them. I have really loved the foreign affairs classes I have taken.

Question: What has been your favorite class at UVa?
PLIR 360 – a politics and international relations class with Professor Copeland, who was awesome. It was on the military force in international relations, so it was really interesting. I am in theories of international relations right now that is pretty cool too.

Question: What do you like to do for fun?
I really enjoy reading. Right now I am reading the unabridged version of the Count of Monte Cristo. I really like it and I’m going to try to read it in French afterwards, though that is a pretty ambitious goal. I watch good TV shows that I watch: Once Upon A Time, Pretty Little Liars, True Blood and Game of Thrones. There are always a bunch of people at our apartment. We have game night and movie night. Hillary (Petersen) and I just bought some beta fish. Mine is named Jaws and hers is Ringo. We put their bowls next to each other. I also love strange music no one else likes.

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