By KATIA SAVELYEVA
Following UMW’s defeat of Bridgewater and Lynchburg in women’s swimming last weekend, junior Claudia Keller was named the CAC Women’s Swimmer of the Week.
“It makes me excited for the rest of the season. If I know I’m doing good now, then I want to continue that and do good at conferences,” said Keller.
At Lynchburg, Keller won the 200 yard freestyle with a time of 2:01.42 and the 500 yard freestyle with a time of 5:22.72. In the latter, she defeated the competition by 15 seconds.
These wins followed her success in UMW’s opener against Washington and Lee, where she completed the 1000 yard freestyle at 10:52.30, and the 500 freestyle at 5:20.90. Her victory in the 1000 yard was the first UMW victory of the evening.
Keller recalled the Lynchburg meet with a smile. “We were swimming very fast times and it was only our second meet,” she said. “We had a lot of people in first, and a lot of people got their best times for the season.”
The timing of this meet created some challenges in the process. “This meet we were coming off of fall break, so we had two days off,” said Keller. “We didn’t have as much practice leading up and Coach killed us the day before. So we were a little more tired, but it was still pretty good.”
The high morale as a result of the recent successes has left the team optimistic when it comes to its season goals. “Our spirits are up right now,” says Keller. “We’re trying to get our last CAC win this year. I think we’re gonna get it. And we want to try to get some girls in NCAAs this year.”
Keller’s faith in these goals is high: “We have a lot of fast girls, we have a lot of fast sprinters and distance swimmers this year that could go.”
Keller’s relationship with the team began in her freshman year, although she swam in high school as well. “I wanted to swim in college because I liked the sport,” she said. “But I wasn’t quite sure because I didn’t think I would be fast enough.”
After joining the UMW swim team, her speeds have continued to improve. This season, over the course of just two meets, she has experienced four individual event wins.
Her membership has seen the swim team through the last three years, which has featured the addition of a new coach, UMW alum Justin Anderson, who was hired in July 2018.
“Coach Anderson has been so good. He’s been pushing us a lot harder and encouraging us,” said Keller. “He’s always joking with us, too.”
Overall, Keller’s time on the team has shaped her social life at UMW. “It makes UMW so much more fun because I hang out with the team, and they’re my best friends.”
Keller has formed close-knit relationship with her fellow swimmers, which reflects in their support of one another both in and out of the pool. “We’re a family, and we all get along,” said Keller. “There’s no drama, everyone always supports each other and encourages each other.”
In addition, Keller’s found that the time commitment of swimming has helped rather than hurt her academic life. “It helps me become a better student because it helps me focus and manage my time,” said Keller. “Swimming makes me more motivated and hard-working.”