Naming inspiration suits Lowe just fine
Call it silly, creative or just the right mix of inspiration and originality, but the naming of sophomore Matthew Lowe’s favorite suit “Lola” has brought him a mix of unexpected acclaim and ribbing from his teammates.
The suit is a simple Nike Jammer speed suit that Lowe has only worn on roughly four occasions. The fourth race was the Big 12 Championship finals of the 100-yard breaststroke. In the other three races, Lowe won a preliminary heat at U.S. Nationals and then two 2005 U.S. National Championships in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke.
“The last thing I expected was for people to make a big deal about it,” said Lowe. “It was something I told a few guys on the team. Then after the second day of the (Big 12) championships, some parents were coming up to me and asking me about my suit.”
At those Big 12 Championships on Feb. 22-25 in Columbia, Mo., Lowe repeated as champion in the 100-yard breaststroke with a NCAA consideration time of 53.78 and finished runner-up in the 200-yard breaststroke with a consideration time of 1:59.79.
“I am not saying I needed the suit to win,” said Lowe. “But it did serve as a little inspiration. Knowing I came up big in meets with that suit pushed me just a little bit more. Getting a better time to get to nationals was my only goal entering the race.”
The suit, worn first only on a whim of shaking things up in Lowe’s next big race, has garnered a little attention from his coach as well, who after the race only laughed at the idea of his suit helping his chances.
“Whatever takes care from the neck up is fine with me,” said head coach Eddie Reese. “I do like the name, Lola, and it goes well with Matthew’s last name, Lowe. Plus, like the song says, whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.”
What Lola got was a time of 53.78 in the 100-yard breaststroke to put him in a good position to make the NCAAs and set a new Mizzou pool record in the process.
“I told Tyler O’Halloran that I was bringing Lola to the meet Friday morning,” said Lowe. “When he asked me why my girlfriend was coming, I told him it was a suit and he laughed a little. The story kind of grew from there.”
While not an outspoken member of the team, Lowe has made his presence known in the pool.
“He is a big race kind of guy,” said senior Wade Kelley. “He doesn’t always mean to save his best for last, but in the big meets and the big races he is always up in front and coming through down the stretch.”
He is not alone on the team with a particular interest in his swim attire. Sophomore Caleb McDermott has several different suits for separate strokes and others for specific events.
“I don’t have a specific one suit for any particular race or one that is my favorite like Lowe,” said McDermott. “I do like to wear different styles for specific races. For backstroke, I will wear just the lower body suit. For distance freestyle events I will wear a Jammer (short) suit. And for sprit freestyle events, I wear a full-body suit that covers me all the way to my wrists.”
Now all the suits are not for everyone. Sophomore Thomas Sacco experimented once with a full-suit that went all the way to his wrists and had mixed results. While it helps the body move through the water with less drag, it does limit a swimmer’s ability to feel the water around him.
“I put the full suit on just to try it during a race once, because I had not ever swum in competition with a full length suit,” said Sacco. “While my time was pretty good, I felt like I wasn’t even in the water. I couldn’t even feel the water on my arms. It was like swimming through air.”
Lowe was a 2005 All-American as a member of UT’s eighth-place 200-yard medley relay team swimming the breaststroke leg and Honorable Mention All-American honoree in the 100-yard breaststroke in his first trip to NCAAs.
While Lola will not be in action again until the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Ga., March 23-25, Lowe has already started a legend. There is no doubt it will back in the pool before all the medals are handed out.
“I never thought just talking about the suit would be anything special,” said Lowe. “No one has talked about naming their suit or anything now that my secret is out. Frankly I don’t even know when or why I named mine. All I know is I must have made the right choice.”