In his second year at Springfield College, senior transfer John Vatkevich has solidified his place on the men’s swimming and diving team. This past Sunday in the team’s last meet before the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championships at Amherst College, Vatkevich worked admirably to try and help the Pride upset the top-ranked team. He swam a team-best 4.28.01 in the 400 IM and also contributed a strong effort in the 400 freestyle relay. The senior hopes to be part of an 800 freestyle relay that will qualify for nationals this year, and they have an excellent opportunity to do so.
Q. After a long and grueling season, how do you feel personally and about the team going into championships?
A. I feel more ready than ever to swim at championships. There have been many ups and downs of the season, but working with assistant coach Meg Sisson has made me more mentally and physically prepared for the distance races than I ever have previously. Both the women’s and men’s teams are in the position to achieve a high level of success going into NEWMACs.
Q. What goals do you hope to achieve at NEWMACs this year?
A. I hope to personally achieve best times in all of my individual races and qualify for NCAA DIII Nationals in a relay.
Q. Being a veteran on the team now, have you found yourself in more of a leadership role especially with younger swimmers that have not experienced a championship meet like this?
A. It can be overwhelming in many regards for someone who has not been to a championship meet quite like NEWMACs, and as a collective whole returning team members do a great job preparing freshmen for the meet.
Senior standout Kellie Pennington continued her dominance in the pool this past weekend at Amherst College. She easily took first place overall in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.91, while in a rare appearance in the 100 IM she still managed to swim a team best 1.01.16. Pennington and the Lady Pride finished the day with a strong effort in the 400 freestyle relay, taking first place again. “Not only is Kellie an exceptional athlete, but she is the most humble and caring person I have ever met,” said teammate Rob Stringfellow. “She excels in the classroom just as much as she does in the pool, and any student-athlete should aspire to be her.” Truer words have never been spoken, as Pennington will go down as one of the greatest student-athletes to have ever walked this campus.
Q. Heading into the end of your senior season, do you feel any additional pressure to perform knowing that your opportunities are limited?
A. I don’t feel as if there’s any additional pressure. If I do what I’m supposed to do, I will swim faster than I ever have before.
Q. What are your goals for yourself and for your team heading into conference championships?
A. As far as my own individual goals are concerned, I just want to go my fastest times. I also want to be in a good position as I move onto NCAAs. In regards to the team’s performance, I just want everyone to swim fast and have fun. We work so hard all year, and the best part of the meet is truly watching other people swim/dive and succeed.
Q.With so little time left on the team, what do you think you are going to miss most when the season does come to a close?
A. The part I’m going to miss the most about swimming is competing. I love the adrenaline and excitement that is a part of racing. Practices are enjoyable, but my true love is competition.