Few athletes at Tennessee face the expectations that Kelsey Floyd does.
The senior from Lexington, Ky., is counted on by her team to place in every event she swims in, but no one has higher expectations for her senior year than Floyd herself.
Fresh off a strong showing this summer at the Olympic Trials in the 100 and 200 fly, where she qualified for the A final for each, Floyd is feeling more confident in her abilities than ever before.
"It was cool to compete on that level," Floyd said. "I've been to NCAAs and summer nationals before, but that was my first really big meet that I did really well at. That was exciting. It gave me a lot of confidence in what I can do. Going into my senior year, I know I can race with all of these girls for first and even compete internationally when this is over."
One of the stronger swimmers in the conference, Floyd expects to place in every race she competes in. While some athletes would shy away from such lofty expectations, Floyd has embraced them.
"She's really earned her way into that top spot," head coach Matt Kredich said. "From the time she got here that's essentially what she was working towards. I remember when we went to NCAAs her freshman year, we had a very good medley relay and her goal was to not feel like she was the weak leg. She wanted to be the strongest, the fastest and the one that we can depend on. She saw that as being a role that she could work towards. She's definitely there."
He added, "When we make a dual meet lineup or go to a championship meet, it's really a luxury to be able to count on someone, and we can count on her."
Using her experience as a top swimmer, Floyd has been able to mentor a young Lady Vol squad by making them feel more comfortable with her calming effect.
"I'm very similar to our freshmen in terms of my first two years," Floyd said. "I was really hard on myself in terms of how practices went. If I had a bad practice, I was really critical of myself and got too down. I try to help explain what we're looking for. You can get better even if you aren't going a certain time. I think it always helps having someone who has done everything you're about to do to let you know it's okay. It's nice having someone who's done it and is calm about it."
Floyd returns to her hometown this weekend to face Kentucky and Indiana, but her real test will come this spring in March at SECs and NCAAs, especially with the recent addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC.
"I definitely want to get an NCAA championship," Floyd said. "That would be the coolest thing ever. I really want our team to keep doing really well. We had an amazing year last year and we lost a lot of seniors. That hurt, but we gained a ton of awesome freshmen. I just want my senior year for us to keep moving in a forward direction. It will be interesting to see. We're already talking about what it takes to win SECs and what the points look like and what places we need people to get, and I'm really excited."