North Texas Daily

Swimming tries to balance academics and competition

Swimming tries to balance academics and competition

Swimming tries to balance academics and competition
January 27
22:28 2015

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

Near the end of a recent practice, head swimming coach Brendon Bray plays the Poland national anthem through the gym speakers, allowing freshman Barbara Wasilewska, a Poland native, to feel at home while she completes a distance freestyle.

This is one of many examples of Bray’s relaxed coaching style, which has kept the Mean Green dedicated to its craft both in and out of the pool. Since Bray’s arrival in 2013, the North Texas swimming and diving team has strived academically while also making major improvements in competition.

“We’re really proud of their academic record and academic achievement,” Bray said. “We have a 3.55 GPA, and at one point had the No. 2 ranked GPA of all Division I swimming and diving teams.”

In the summer of 2013, North Texas was recognized by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America as a NCAA All-Academic team, tying for first out of 522 schools in collective team GPA. Senior Jessica Rodriguez has played a major part in making sure the team gets all the help they need in class throughout the course of the season.

“With all the incoming freshmen, we make sure to tell them that here at UNT, academics are one of our main priorities,” Rodriguez said. “We make a big deal about helping them, making sure they have tutors if they need help with anything so that we can keep our high GPA. It looks great, and we’re proud of it.”

After finishing last season with a 2-8 record, the team is off to a 4-2 start, with its only losses coming against fellow Conference USA foe Tulane University and No. 4 ranked Texas A&M University. Bray said playing a team like A&M early in the season is something that will help later on.

“Part of the reason you swim against a team like Texas A&M is to have experiences against people who compete at an international and national level,” Bray said. “So when you bring them in here and they race you, it gives you confidence so that at the end of the season, you’re able to perform at your best.”

The team finished fifth in last season’s C-USA Championships, and aim to finish higher this year with more experience. One of the team leaders is senior Krista Rossum, who was named the C-USA swimmer of the week Nov. 5. She recently swam all 12 heats in a meet at the University of San Diego, leading the Mean Green to a 20-16 victory. Rossum has seen major improvement since last year, both individually and as a team.

“There is a big difference on the team,” said Rossum. “Not only has everyone trained harder, I think we have a better attitude. Everyone wants to be here, and they’re proud to be part of this team.”

The team’s next meet will begin at 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 against Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

Featured Image: Senior Jessica Rodriguez swims laps during practice on Jan. 21 in the Pohl Recreation Center. Photo by Ryan Vance – Senior Staff Photographer

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