In the first event of
last week’s NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships at San
Antonio, TX, UC San Diego junior Matt Herman, in the words of Head Coach Scott
McGihon, turned in a performance that “galvanized” the Tritons and kick-started
the team towards its best-ever combined finish at the national meet. The
5-foot-9 UC Davis transfer went wire-to-wire that night to win the 1,000
freestyle in school record time of 9:02.67. After finishing fifth in the 500
freestyle two nights later, he closed out the meet by winning a second national
title with another school record in the 1,650 freestyle (15:12.78) as the UCSD
men placed second in the team standings. “The great thing about Matt’s events
is that if you put in a lot of hard work, you’re going to have success—and he
definitely puts in the work” said McGihon. “He’s probably the most dedicated
member of our team—very driven.” In the aftermath of the NCAA meet, the San
Anselmo native took time to look back on the past week and what got him there.
Q-Was last week in San Antonio the greatest
performance of your swimming career?
HERMAN— Absolutely. It has been a few years since I have dropped
the kind of time in my events that I did in San Antonio.
Not only that, but to walk away with a second place team finish was a
Q—Were there any
question marks, fears or nervousness when you arrived in Texas?
HERMAN— I think
at every meet a swimmer will arrive with doubts and nervousness in their
mind. “Did I put in all the work? Did I
get enough rest? Did I miss my taper?” When those doubts and fears come up, you
have to channel them into fast swimming.
Before and during every race I thought about the seven months of
training I had put in and that is what helped me in all three of my races.
Q-Which win meant
more to you, the 1,000 freestyle or 1,650?
feeling I had after the 1,000 was indescribable. The win after the 1,000 was really special
not only because it was my first National Championship, but also because after that
race I knew all the hard work my teammates, coaches and I had put in during the
season had paid off and we were going to have an incredible meet.
Q-When did you feel
you had the 1,000 freestyle won?
HERMAN— It wasn’t
until the final 50 of the race that I knew I had it. At the 700 yard mark I thought I was going to
be passed, but I saw all of my teammates on the side of the pool jumping up and
down and knew I could find another gear and get the win. The 1,000 was definitely a team win. My teammates and coaches played a big role in
Q—Is there a
different sense of accomplishment having won two national championships as
opposed to just one?
HERMAN— In every
race you swim, you want to get out of the water knowing you left everything you
had in the water. I think having two
wins under my belt definitely helps confirm that I put everything I had into
those two races.
Q—What was going
through your mind as you made the last turn for home in the 1,650?
HERMAN— When I
heard the bell going into the last 50 of a 66 lap race, I was excited that it
was almost over. Swimming that last 50
with no one around me was a great feeling and I knew I was going to get my
second National Championship.
Q—The second place
team finish was UCSD’s best in 11 years at the Division II level. How did it
feel to be part of that accomplishment?
HERMAN— As a team
we had set a goal to be top three at Nationals in the beginning of the year, so
to accomplish that was definitely the highlight of my NCAA experience. When you set a goal as a team and achieve
that goal, it is way more significant than any individual championship. Every member of the team, whether they were
at Nationals or not, played a big part in the second place finish. To be on this team and hoist the trophy at
the end of the meet was a great feeling.
Q—Between the men and women, UCSD swimmers broke 11 school records at the NCAA
meet. Which of your teammates’ performances impressed you the most? Why?
were a lot of great swims at the meet, but I have to say that Blake Langland’s
relay swims were very inspiring. It is
uncanny how he never gives up when he anchors the relays and out-touches
swimmers whom were a body length ahead before he dove in. Also, Alex Henley and Nick Korth’s win’s were
very fun to watch.
Q—How would you describe the way the UCSD coaching staff works together and
what do you feel are the strengths of each coach?
definitely have the best coaching staff in the entire country. Be it in Division I, II, or III, you won’t
find a more passionate or successful group of coaches in any sport. Each coach adds their own element to our
team. Scott is very organized and in my
mind is a genius distance freestyle coach.
He is really great at knowing what sets to give me and how to push me
into my potential.
Corrie (Falcon) is a great motivator, and comes up with some
challenging sets (she was one of the best individual medley swimmers in the United States
when she swam!). Matt (Macedo) is very
inventive with his practices and his passion for the sport is uncontested (he
was one of the best sprint freestylers in the country!). It is great to have
Tyler Painter as a part of our coaching staff as well. He was one of the greatest distance swimmers
in the world when he swam competitively, and to get advice from him is very
Even at 6 a.m., I am excited to swim for our four coaches
because I know they are giving the team 100% and it makes me want to
reciprocate that every way I know how. Without these coaches, I know there
would not be second and third place team trophies on display in RIMAC right now
and I would not have two individual National Championship finishes.
Q—The distance group
likely has the toughest training regimen of any unit on a swim team. Are there
times during the season when it’s tough to motivate yourself? What do you do to
get through those times?
HERMAN— There are
definitely times during the season where both physically and mentally it is
tough to perform. When that happens I look to my teammates and coaches to bring
me back to a level of training that will allow me to reach my potential. In swimming we train seven months for one
competition, so most of the sport is about the journey getting to that
competition and you have to look at those bad days as just part of the journey.
Q—Were you surprised
to see some 20 UCSD swimming alumni in the stands in San Antonio?
HERMAN— Definitely. Having alumni
travel all the way to San Antonio
to watch us swim was very inspiring.
Many of the alumni haven’t missed a Nationals since they attended UCSD
and I think it shows the tight relationships and bonds this team develops while
you’re swimming on it.
Q—What type of
thoughts are typically going through your head during the 66 laps of the 1,650?
HERMAN— In the
beginning of the race I usually think, “Wow, I feel pretty good…I can hold this
pace for ever!” Then, about the middle of the race I usually get a Springsteen
song in my head to keep me going. And by the end thoughts come up like, “I wish
I was a sprinter.” And, “I can’t wait to hear that bell.”
Q—If you had to swim
all of the other events in a standard meet, which would be your worst?
the 50 free, or one of the breaststroke races.
Simply because I can’t sprint or do breaststroke.
Q—Now that the long
season is concluded, how will you spend your free time?
probably take two weeks out of the water and this first week to eat a lot of
junk food and be lazy. After the college
season is over we go right into long-course swimming and you have to be in
shape for that, so the break, although nice, is relatively short-lived.
Q-With two individual
national championships in your possession, what type of goals do you anticipate
setting for yourself in 2012?
HERMAN— As a
team, I would like hold up a first place trophy at the end of the meet next
year. Also, I want to defend my two
titles and look for a third in the 500 free.
Q—Looking back, aside
from your two wins, what is the one thing you will remember most from the 2011
out of the water after the 1,000 freestyle—hugging Scott and shouting, “We did
Previous Q & A Articles
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
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