10 Questions with “TEAM YUKA”
Yuka Suzuka, a junior from Yorktown Heights, NY (Yorktown HS) has qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships next week at the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI (Indianapolis, Indiana). This venue hosted the US Olympic Swimming Trials in 84, 92, 96, and 2000. It is Yuka’s second trip the NCAA Championships. Last year she competed individually in the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, and as a member of the 200 Medley, 400 Medley, and 400 Freestyle relays.
She has already had an impressive career as New Paltz Hawk. At the conference level, she has won both the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke in all 3 seasons of her career. This year, she also won the 200 IM and was named SUNYAC Oustanding Female Swimmer of the Meet . At the varsity level, she has set school records in the 200 IM (2:08.62), 100 Backstroke (55.53) and 200 Backstroke (2:01.60), and as a member of the 200 Medley Relay (1:46.44) and 400 Medley Relay (3:54.67). She seeks her first All-America citation in Indianapolis, and is seeded 5th in the 100 back and 7th in the 200 back.
10 Questions with “TEAM YUKA”
1. This year has been your best year so far in the pool. Did you change something from last season that really helped you drop time and succeed as you have?
I did a lot of lifting over the summer (crossfit) and gained a lot of strength. I also really made sure to swim hard at home and then especially in the pre-season. I came into the season in great shape and it helped a lot.
2. Is there something you learned from last year’s NCAA meet that you’ll take into this year’s meet?
When you first qualify for NCAA’s, its pretty amazing how many fast swimmers there are in division 3 in the nation. In a duel or sunyac meet, I’m used to being either out in front, or right up there in the race. At Nationals, the entire field is as fast as you. I’ll have a lot better idea of what to expect this year.
3. The 2012 SUNYAC Championships has to be considered the best meet of your career, winning 3 individual events and taking home SUNYAC Swimmer of the Year Honors. Which race really stood out for you at this meet?
Definitely the 100 back. It was my best time by almost 3 seconds. I swam in finals the night before and went 56.4 and I was really happy with that, but I was so pumped to go 55.5!
4. You have a unique way of preparing for your races. Describe your pre-race routine. How do you get focused?
I drink coffee in the morning and then I drink apple vinegar prior to the race. Behind the blocks I slap my muscles to ‘wake them up’ and I think about nothing and I try to relax. My attitude is that “no matter what happens I’m just going to give it my best here”. I do think about my race and my strategy a lot and I think that helps.
5. What music do you listen to to get pumped up before a race?
Avenged Sevenfold, Winds of Plague, other death metal music. I really like Japanese death metal.
6. You’re the only swimmer that qualified for NCAA’s from New Paltz this year, how have you stayed motivated during the 6 weeks of additional training?
I’m ok with just swimming by myself. I just try to focus on each day’s practice and I stay focused on the NCAA’s coming up soon. I am a bit worried about the re-taper but it worked last year, and I’ve been swimming well so I think I’ll be fine.
7. What are your goals for this year’s NCAA Championships
I’d like to qualify in the top 8 in one of my events.
8. What race are you most excited about for NCAA’s?
Just like at conference, its the 100 back. I really feel like I’m ready to swim fast at that one again, and I hope I can go faster than I went at SUNYACs.
9. Have you ever been to Indianapolis or Indiana?
I believe I had a meet in Indianapolis when I was 16 back in high school at a high school pool. I remember doing well at the meet. I’ve passed through Indiana on my way to Chicago before. I don’t remember much though.
10. What has been your best memory of New Paltz Swimming this season?
I think being in Florida was the best. We have a great hotel and a great pool to swim at. My favorite part was just hanging out on the beach on the nice days between practices.
The NCAA Championships begin next Wednesday, March 21st. Yuka will swim the 200 IM on Wednesday, the 100 Back on Friday, and the 200 Back on Saturday.
Live Results, psych sheets, and other information can be found on the NCAA website: http://www.ncaa.com/championships/swimming-women/d3
This marks the 7th time in 8 seasons that New Paltz has had representation at the NCAA Division 3 Women’s Swimming Championships.