Feb. 25, 2013
• Watch Whitney Hite Conference
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's swimming and diving head coach Whitney L. Hite spoke about the upcoming Big Ten Championships in Bloomington, Ind., among other things.
Archived video of the media session is available through the link above, and a complete transcript of Ryan's remarks can be found below.
Question: After a very solid junior season last year, how much has Michael Weiss improved this season? How much improvement have you seen in him even after that very, very good season last year?
Hite: Michael had a terrific season last year. I think any time you can go to NCAAs for the first time and score in three events, that's very difficult to do, especially as a junior. This year has been more of the same as far as very fast times and season.
Going to Istanbul, Turkey, for the Short Course World Championships and for the United States, winning a gold medal there. His trajectory is just up and up and very impressive. He's hungry. So that makes it fun. He's constantly improving and constantly challenging himself. We're hoping for really big things from him this week and again at NCAAs.
Nothing really surprises me with Michael. He works very, very hard. The results reflect that hard work. He's just done a great job.
Question: Everyone pretty much knows about Michael and Daniel, but who else should we expect to see put up pretty good times this weekend?
Hite: We've got a good senior class, and we also have some freshmen that will do very well. John Bushman, Josh Anderson, Austin Byrd, Ryan O'Donnell. Byrd, O'Donnell, and Bushman are all Wisconsin kids, so it's nice to have some in-state talent doing well, along with Jake Mandli.
We've got another Madison product in Drew TeDuits, who will do very, very well in the backstrokes and be on our relays. He's a terrific talent. Again, it's always nice to have a Wisconsin kid do very well not only in the conference but nationally. He has one of the top times in the country in the 200 backstroke. We're excited to see him get in there and fight for Wisconsin.
Question: Whitney, the two seniors in particular, Michael and Dan, how much do you see them as being kind of the torch bearers for this program and helping the youngsters that you just mentioned kind of learn from what they've been able to accomplish in taking that forward?
Hite: Sure, they've been great captains for us. It is important for them to teach the underclassmen how things are and what the expectations are. They've done a terrific job leading both in and out of the pool. Both guys, you can't ask for harder workers. They lead by example in and out of the pool, in the classroom as well. So it's really nice to be able to rely on that and rely on them.
I think Danny had a little bit of a rough go at the end of the season last year with flying in from Australia the first day of the NCAAs. That's impossible almost to have success. But -- so I think a little -- some people out there in the swimming world have forgotten about him, which might be a good thing because he is swimming very, very well and we're expecting him to have a great meet as well.
When you have two big bullets like those guys, it makes it fun. The freshmen are aware, and they learn from that, which is really important as we move forward.
Question: 2-9 last year, 5-8 this year. There's been some improvement. What's the key to that improvement so far this year?
Hite: I'm not a big fan of dual meet record. That's the first time I've heard those numbers. For us, everything is built around success at the Big Tens and NCAAs. We're more successful because I challenged the guys last year, and I think that they got tired of being kicked around by other teams.
We have -- we've had arguably the toughest schedule in the nation with Michigan and Cal and Stanford and USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Minnesota. Those are all really tough teams, and I think that that prepares us for the end of the season, Big Tens and NCAAs.
We've had great senior leadership, not just from Michael and Dan, but from the rest of our seniors. They want to leave the program in better shape than when they got here. So I think that speaks volumes for them, and it's one of the reasons for the turnaround. I think we're a tough team. We're not intimidated, and we're not afraid of anybody.
Question: Kind of a three-part question dealing with the women's Big Ten meet. How do you think the team performed as a whole, the efforts of Ivy Martin, and what other swimmers might be able to get into the NCAA meet coming up in a couple of weeks?
Hite: Last week, I think we struggled a little bit. It certainly didn't go as perfectly as we had hoped. I thought we did a nice job of competing. We still had, I think, 15 all time top ten times, which is pretty impressive. Almost half of our swims were lifetime best times. We're always shooting for perfect, 100 percent.
I thought we did a nice job of sticking it out. Obviously, seventh isn't exactly where we want to be, but we're working towards -- we're already starting to work towards getting better for next year.
Ivy Martin was outstanding. I believe that her 50 was the school record, Big Ten record, first woman at a Big Ten meet to be under 21 seconds -- excuse me. 22 seconds. And being 21.86, I think. I believe that's the second fastest time in the nation right now. Really, really impressive, and we're excited. I think she can be faster.
Right now joining her, we've got two going to a last chance meet at Ohio State this Sunday. Right now we can take four relay alternates. We'll be taking Rebecka Palm, Ruby Martin, Anna Meinholz and -- let's see the other one would be -- we're hoping for Ally Loper. Is that four or five? Four.
So it should be good. We've got all our relays qualified. So in that respect, we did what we needed to do. I think NCAAs, we'll rise to the occasion and do real well.
Question: Psychologically, what do you think the difference is between playing a really tough schedule and taking a few losses versus maybe swimming an easier schedule and getting a bunch of wins?
Hite: I think, if you get a bunch of wins, you might have an inflated ego, and certainly we -- my job is to explain and be the teacher, making sure they're understanding what the process is, understanding the rhyme and the reason for doing it the way we do it. We're not interested in being the best team in October. We're not interested in being the best team in December. We're interested in being the best team in March when it counts.
And there's a process to that. With a group of freshmen, ten freshmen, really large group, they're not ready in March. Excuse me. In October. They're going to be ready this month. So it just takes some time and explaining to them that it's a process, much like Michael Weiss' process. You don't burst onto the scene.
Very rarely do you have freshmen that come in and score three events in NCAAs. So it takes some time and building them up and having them understand the rhyme and reason for the way we're doing it.