One of the most decorated
swimmers in UC San Diego history, three-time NCAA Division II champion Alex
Henley hopes to add to her collection of hardware in March when she closes out
her collegiate career at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Mansfield, TX. The
Thousand Oaks, CA native holds UCSD school records in seven individual events
and one relay and has twice been named one of UCSD's Athletes of the Year.
Triton Head Coach Corrie Falcon knows Henley is a unique talent. "In so many
ways, Alex is just what you'd want out of any swimmer in your program," says
Falcon. "She's dedicated, a leader in all aspects and always willing to go the
extra mile whether it's coming in to review video or talk about how we can make
the team stronger. She's obviously brought a lot of visibility to our program
and might be the most versatile swimmer in UCSD history." With the Pacific
Collegiate Swim Conference (PCSC) Championships less than a month away and the
NCAAs to follow, Henley took time to talk about her sport, the UCSD experience
and the hopes she has for the remainder of her time in La Jolla.
Q-How would you
describe your feelings about the sport of swimming?
definitely a love-hate relationship. Do I enjoy waking up at 5:00 AM three
times a week and jumping in a cold pool an hour later? Absolutely not. But when
I get to compete at meets with my team all of those hours are worth it. I love
those that I get to spend my time with day-in and day-out and our passion for
the water is something that keeps us going.
Q-How is swimming
different from every other sport and what do you get from being a swimmer that
your don't get anywhere else?
that swimming is a sport that you have to be in love with (whether you know it
or not) to keep doing-especially at the collegiate level. I feel like it is one
of the only sports where you can't have a real off-season. Also, because we
spend so much time together you get to really know your teammates and make some
amazing friends and become a family.
Q-You've obviously had a number of great
moments during your collegiate career. Which one stands out the most and why?
think I will ever forget when we won PCSC's my sophomore year by six points
against Loyola Marymount. The whole last session I was running around Belmont
Plaza (Olympic Pool) like a chicken with its head cut off. I knew we wouldn't
beat them in the last relay, they were just too good at sprint free, so we had
to rely on those doing the 200s of stroke.
After the 200 butterfly I was waiting with Michelle Robbins by the scoreboard
as they changed the points through the last individual event. All we had to do
was get second in the last relay. I was anchoring and I thought I was going to
have a heart attack on the blocks, when I touched and saw that we got second it
was nice to know that we had won the meet. Jumping in the pool when they
announced the scores was the greatest feeling ever. I have never been so
emotional or stressed during a meet before which made the victory against our
rivals that much sweeter once it was all over with.
Q-Describe the 30
minutes leading up to one of your races at a big meet.
am listening to my iPod sitting in my parka before I get in to warm up. I then
warm up for about 15 minutes and then get out and sit behind my block or in the
ready room for the next 10 minutes until it is time for the race to begin.
Q-When you're all
alone on the blocks, what's going through your mind? Do you have a mental
checklist or a regular routine?
on the blocks I try not to think about anything except for listening to the
starter say take your mark and wait for the beep.
Q-From the outside,
you appear to be totally confident, totally in control when you're racing. Is
there ever any doubt in those big pressure situations? If so, how do you deal
definitely doubted myself while sitting behind the blocks...but that is the
beauty of having a powerful mind. As soon as I start to have doubt I tell
myself that I can't think that way and that I just need to go out there and
race. There is nothing more I can do to prepare at that point, so I just have
to go with what I've got and do the best I can.
Q-Your events run the gamut-middle
distance freestyle, individual medley, butterfly and backstroke. Which is your
favorite, which is the most difficult? Of the four IM disciplines, which do you
wish you were better in?
my favorite race is probably the 200 backstroke and it's probably because it is
the one I have the most confidence in. The most difficult: the 400 IM. It is
the longest thing I swim and you have to be very strategic when swimming this
event. I wish I was a better breaststroker, It is kind of disheartening to have
it be my worst stroke because when I was younger I was a breaststroker.
Q-You swam your first
three years at UCSD under Head Coach Scott McGihon. This year, dual head
coaches Corrie Falcon and Matt Macedo are guiding the team. Have you noticed
any differences? What do you like about the new staff?
most part the structure of everything has stayed the same with a few changes.
There is a lot of energy in our coaching staff with Corrie, Matt and assistant
coaches Jason (Martin) and (Dan) Perdew. Since they are all somewhat close to
us in age, the music during practice has definitely taken a turn for the best.
Q-With just one dual
meet, the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference Championships and the NCAA
Championships remaining on this year's schedule, your collegiate career is
starting to wind down. Has that started to hit you yet?
HENLEY-I think it
has to some extent. I know at the senior recognition meet against Grand Canyon,
I was in line to be recognized with Neda Nguyen and we were both saying "I
don't think I'm ready to be the one on the block...we aren't really seniors, are
we?" I think that most of the seniors are just trying to take it all in right
now, and enjoy the moments we have left with this incredible team. I know the
six senior swimmer girls have been swimming all their lives and that we are
both scared and excited to see what lies on the other side.
Q-How have you seen
your role on the team evolve over your four years? As a senior captain, what do
you try to bring to the team in and out of the pool?
as a freshman I had a huge amount of respect for those older than me and so I
just did whatever they told me. Swimming fast wasn't an option, it was a
necessity. It was the same case with picking up kickboards, ha ha. Now I just
try and lead by example and instill confidence in my team. I am also more vocal
than I was back then because I have been here for four years and I know what
needs to get done. I want us to achieve things that this program has never
achieved before and so I try and do my best to assure them of what they are
Q-When you first
arrived at UCSD, what was the thing that surprised you most? Was there anyone
who helped ease the transition from high school to college?
HENLEY-I was most
surprised by how many different people I met when I came to school. There are
quite a few unique individuals on this campus. The seniors my freshman year
really helped me make the transition from high school to college. They were
always checking up on us, giving us rides and making sure we had a good time
while still working hard and swimming fast.
Q-What's the best
advice anyone's ever given you?
best you can be." I know it sounds simple, and maybe a little silly but it is
something that my grandpa has been telling me ever since I can remember. If you
are always being the best you can then there are no regrets. I don't like to
second guess myself and so if I know that I'm being the best I can be then
there is no reason to doubt anything I've done.
Q-Swimmers are fairly
notorious for their structure and discipline. Do you have any "vices" that
might break that mold?
think I have a vice because I have
been swimming so long. Everything that I do is very structured.
interests, you listed baking and going to the beach? What's your "signature"
dish and what do you consider the best beach in San Diego? Why?
some pretty good fudge and a bean dip (mom's recipe) for the Super Bowl every
year that my teammates seem to enjoy. My favorite beach in San Diego is Mission
Beach because of the boardwalk. It is really fun to people-watch there and it
Q-You're a physiology
and neuroscience major and will be graduating in June. How have you managed to
handle both the rigors of that field of study and the demands of swimming? What
do you hope to do post-graduation?
have been swimming my whole life it is almost second nature to be able to time
manage and figure out doing both swimming and school. I hope that I can find
some sort of job after graduation, however, I have no idea what type of job I
want that to be.
qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials next summer. How excited are you about
HENLEY-I am so
excited to go to Trials in June. It is something I have been dreaming of ever
since I was a little girl. I can only hope that the last meet of my life is my
Q-When your swimming
career is over, what will you miss the most and what will be the one thing you
miss the competitive part of swimming as well as spending the hours with the
people that have become my family. I will definitely not miss having to wake up
and leave my warm bed at 5:00 AM.
Q-If you could write
your own script for the next two months, what would it be?
for UCSD win PCSC's and qualify a full women's team for NCAA's. I want for my
team to bring home a National Championship trophy from Mansfield, Texas in
March. I want this team to have the best season it has ever had. I hope to go
best times and place high individually but if we could do something monumental
that would really be the cherry on top of the amazing experience that I have
had as a collegiate athlete.
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James McCann (Men's Basketball) December 29, 2011
Emily Osga (Women's Basketball) December 19, 2011
John Butler (Men's Water Polo) November 28, 2011
Lauren Demos (Women's Volleyball) November 8, 2011
Cory Wolfrom (Men's Soccer) October 26, 2011
Ellen Wilson (Women's Soccer) October 1, 2011
Brian Donohoe (Men's Water Polo) September 4, 2011
Roxanne Brunsting (Women's Volleyball) August 19, 2011
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer) August 4, 2011
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer) August 4, 2011
Vincent Nguyen (Tennis) July 1, 2011
Patti Gerckens (Softball) May 26, 2011
Blake Tagmyer (Baseball) May 11, 2011
Theresa Richards (Women's Track & Field) April 27, 2011
Austin West (Men's Tennis) April 17, 2011
Drew Lawyer (Men's Crew) April 11, 2011
Keith Okasaki (Men's Golf) March 26, 2011
Matt Herman (Men's Swimming & Diving) March 12, 2011
Hanalei Crowell (Women's Water Polo) March 5, 2011
Camille Gaito (Softball) February 23, 2011
Tim Shibuya (Baseball) February 8, 2011
Carl Eberts (Men's Volleyball) January 31, 2011
Neda Nguyen (Women's Swimming & Diving) January 24, 2011
Amy Bianchini (Fencing) January 14, 2011
Lauren Freidenberg (Women's Basketball) January 3, 2011
Christian Hatch (Men's Basketball) December 24, 2010
Blake Langland (Men's Swimming & Diving) November 27, 2010
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Christine Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
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