Most freshmen spend the first few weeks adapting to a new life style: new friends, classes and being away from everything that they have known. College brings forth new experiences, and for freshman swimmer Michele King, that experience will be representing the United States in the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
King said she found out the second week of school from her mother and was excited because she had been working toward this for a long time.
“I’m very excited, but at the same time nervous because it’s far away,” she said. “I’m going to go down there and do my best to represent the United States.”
King made the national squad after having strong performances in both the 50m and the 100m freestyle events at the 2006 ConocoPhillips Nationals in August.
Her natural ability and strong work ethic before meets got her on the team, but coach Matt Kredich believes she has the ability to get even better.
“She has a limited training background, so she needs to work on her preparation in some areas to get herself to the next level,” Kredich said.
He said that King trains well in preparation for upcoming competitions, but she must continue training hard between meets to fully reach her potential.
Although King’s international experience is limited, she hopes her time in Tennessee will allow her to continue preparing for an attempt at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
“She can do anything she wants to,” Kredich said. “She has a great medal opportunity, and this could prepare her for a chance at the 2008 Olympics.”
King comes to Tennessee with some high credentials after being named the No. 1 high school swimmer in the nation last year. Kredich bringing in a talent such as King has really excited him and the team. Her time at the 2005 World Championship trials in the 50m freestyle helped establish her high school ranking. King, who finished fifth in the event, was the only high school student to compete.
King hails from Pennsylvania, a fact that may leave many wondering why the best female swimmer in the country would venture so far away from home, but for King, the decision wasn’t hard.
She said that, after seeing how dedicated the coaches were and how much time the girls had cut off of their events, the decision was second nature.
“Matt didn’t have to do much,” King said. “After seeing how amazing the coaches are and how well I fit in here, it was easy.”
Both Kredich and King believe that she can put up some great times this year. King believes she can finish in the top three in freestyle at the NCAA tournament, and she is expected to compete in freestyle, butterfly, the individual medley and breastroke for the Lady Vols this season.
“Already, her high school times are some of the best all-time at Tennessee, so she doesn’t have to get a whole lot better,” Kredich said.
King excels in the 100m freestyle and she also does well in the 100m breaststroke. Kredich said he has been blessed with a freshman with such swimming diversity. He said, depending on the schedule of the meet, he can fit her in different relays, which can benefit the team.
“Michele has a lot of natural ability — she is a beautiful swimmer to watch,” he said. “I think that even those that don’t watch swimming a lot can see that about her.”
Tennessee does not have to wait much longer for King to take her throne, as her first collegiate competition will take place when the Lady Vols host Louisville on Oct. 20.