The latest in a long
line of standout breaststrokers at UC San Diego, junior Neda Nguyen is coming
off back-to-back years where she's earned All-American status by making her way
into the finals of the 200 breaststroke (6th in 2010) at the NCAA Division II
Championships and the consolation finals of the 100 breaststroke (10th). A
Pleasanton, CA native out of Foothill High School, Nguyen is giving every
indication that she's capable of matching, if not bettering those standards by
the time 2011 is in the books. Head Coach Scott McGihon has noticed a change. "Neda's
taken control of her racing and is leading by example in training," says
McGihon. "At the end of the year, I expect that we'll look back and say this
was her best season." With the regular season winding down and the conference
championships just weeks away, Nguyen took time to talk about her progress,
this year's Triton team and her hopes for the remainder of the year.
Q-How would you
compare swimming to the other sports at UC San Diego and what type of personal
characteristics are necessary to be successful in this program?
is a lot different from other sports because we never really have an
off-season. Although winter quarter is our main competition period, we train
and compete throughout the fall, spring, and summer as well. You need to have a
lot of dedication and love for the sport to continue doing it year after year,
and you have to be patient in order to see all your hard work pay off.
Q-How would you describe
your relationship with your sport?
definitely a love/hate relationship. I really enjoy what I am doing, but it can
get very difficult to get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning for another day of
training. I think we all have those days where we don't even want to touch the
water, but you have to have passion for the sport and confidence that it's all
going to benefit you at the end of the season.
Q-As a freshman and
sophomore, you were part teams that posted back-to-back third place finishes at
the NCAA Division II Championships. How is this year's team different than
those? What kind of expectations do you have, team-wise, in 2011?
some really great new additions to the team, which makes the prospects of
NCAA's really exciting for us this year. Everyone on the team has a pretty
positive outlook on this season, which can make a huge difference in our
confidence as a team. Alongside winning our conference championships, I believe
that we can place higher than third this year at nationals in March.
Q-How has the addition of several new
swimmers in your stroke groups influenced your training this season?
NGUYEN-It adds a
lot of "healthy competition", or so Matthew Macedo (asst. coach) likes to call
it. Having a larger stroke group to train with is a lot of fun, and really
makes you push yourself more during practices since we have a lot of talented
Q-In your primary
event, the breaststroke, UCSD Women's Swimming has had quite a storied
tradition. Are you aware of the history there and does it have any impact on
There is quite a history of victorious NCAA breaststroke champions among the
ranks of past UCSD swimmers. It definitely has a huge impact on me knowing what
this program is capable of and how confident we should be about the undeniable
success of the swimmers it has produced.
Q-How has your role
on the team evolved since you first arrived at UCSD?
NGUYEN-Well, I am
an upperclassman now, and having gone through almost three years of this
program I like to think that I have a little more sense of what is going on and
what the ultimate plans and goals of the year are. I like being on the other
side of things, and knowing more about what is going on with team.
Q-In your career,
what has surprised you the most about collegiate swimming?
of time you have to invest in the sport. There is hardly any room in your
schedule to have a life outside of school and swimming. When I swam on my club
team while in high school, I didn't think swimming could take up any more of my
life than it did already, but somehow when I came to college it found a way.
Q-When did you start
swimming and what spurred your interest?
swimming when I was very young, and my parents say it is because they did not
want me to drown. So after learning to survive in a body of water, I just never
stopped swimming. I tried a lot of other sports as well when I was younger, but
none of them really held my interest as much, so I eventually quit my other
Q-What makes you a good breaststroker?
Is there a typical point in a race where you know that it's going to be a good
or bad swim?
personally, it is all mental and is something I am still working on. Usually I
don't feel a defining point in my race; I like to think that anything can
happen within the race up until the point your hand touches the last wall.
Q-You also swim the
individual medley. Is this swimming's toughest event? Which of the four strokes
causes you the most trouble? Why?
opinion the 200s of stroke and the 400 individual medley are the toughest
events, although I am sure some of the mile swimmers would strongly disagree
with me. I would have to say backstroke has always caused me the most trouble
because I just can't seem to get some of the technical aspects of the stroke
Q-What are the key
attributes that Coach Scott McGihon brings to the UCSD team? What effect has he
had on your swimming?
really dedicated to this program, and all of his swimmers. He has a lot of
faith in us as a team and as individuals, and his confidence in us, personally,
makes me feel more confident in myself as a part of this team. His movie quotes
are usually a pretty good laugh too.
Q-How did you make
the decision to attend UCSD?
first recruit trip was to UCSD and, apart from being drawn in by the great
academic aspects of the school, I was really struck by the closeness of the
team as a whole. After going on a few more recruit trips to other colleges, I
easily made the decision to sign early with UCSD, and before the first half of
my senior year in high school was over, I already knew where I was going to
swimming, what other sports do you enjoy watching? Most of your favorite sports
teams are reflective of your hometown being in Northern California. Do you ever
get any heat from your teammates and local friends?
follow a whole lot of other sports very closely, but I do like watching
football and basketball. I don't think you can avoid joining the Chargers
bandwagon once you move to San Diego, but I've always been a 49ers fan too,
even though they haven't been doing real well. I just try not to be an
obnoxious fan wherever I am so I don't get others around me riled up in defense
of their favorite sports team.
Q-What type of
influence has your family had on your swimming career?
are both big sports fanatics and have always been very supportive of me in
everything that I do, including swimming, so I am very lucky to have them. I
also have two younger sisters, ages 10 and 12, who have always copied almost
everything that I have ever done in my life. My 12-year-old sister, who also
swims, even swears that she is going to go to UCSD when she gets older so I
think it will be really interesting to see how that actually plays out when she
pharmacological chemistry major, how have you found the course load at UCSD?
What has been your most interesting class do date?
balance the academic load with the swimming schedule has probably been the
single biggest challenge of being on the team. As with a lot of other majors,
there are always conflicts with the swimming training or travel schedule, and
you have to somehow make that work. My most interesting courses so far have
been my biochemistry classes; I really enjoy the material and I think it is
interesting to learn about how even tiny fundamental body structures and
processes all function to correlate with our daily lives.
Q-What do you hope to
do after you graduate?
I would like to be able to go to pharmacy school after I graduate.
Q-What is one in
thing you would like to accomplish in the pool before you graduate from UCSD?
One thing outside of the pool?
Before I graduate from
UCSD, I want to retire my swimming career happily and be satisfied with how it
turned out. I have been swimming almost my entire life, and I would like more
than anything to be able to look back on it once I am done and not have any
regrets. Outside of the pool, I would like to have an opportunity to study
abroad before I graduate from UCSD.
Previous Q & A Articles
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
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
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009