Since placing third in the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials over the summer and narrowly missing a spot on the Olympic team, Hayley McGregory has produced a solid first season of collegiate racing at Texas. The Houston native currently owns fifth-fastest mark nationally in the 100-yard backstroke and the eighth-fastest time in the 200-yard backstroke and is an NCAA automatic qualifier in each event. As McGregory and her teammates prepare for a run at a sixth-straight conference title (Feb. 23-26), the freshman took some time to go Outside the Lanes with TexasSports.com.
On the Big 12 Championships:
Big 12s will be an interesting experience because all the pressure is on similar to NCAAs because it's really just as important in the mental aspect. The only difference is you are doing it with less rest. Everyone will do well with less rest than they expect because, as a team, we are really strong in terms of helping each other through races.
On post-season goals:
My goals are mostly geared to the NCAA championships, but of course I hope to help us win the Big 12s. I foresee a lot of good things at the NCAAs. I think we are going to shock a lot of teams that are used to being up there in the top five because I think people sometimes underestimate our team.
On the advantages of having a number of strong backstrokers on UT's roster:
I think in a meet, it really helps, but not because we train together every day. We all train so differently that we actually hardly train together because we are all different types of swimmers. So, when we get to the meet, I know that one of my teammates is just a couple lanes down from me and I know she is going to go fast. It makes us step and race each other. We do have a high respect for one another and we know how hard each one of us work.
On the transition to college and dual-meet competition:
Well, it's a lot different than I'm used to because the rivalries and how much you want to win is just so much more than I was used to. It's a lot more team based. We all come together and it's a really strong bond and everyone can feel it.