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February 28, 1994 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-28

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6 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, February 28, 1994

Continued from page 1
capture their eighth consecutive Big
Ten Championship title last weekend
in the conference meet held at the Indi-
ana University-Purdue University at
Indianapolis (IUPUI) Natatorium.
Humphrey led all individual scor-
ers in the league with 77 points out of
Michigan's total 693.5 'points.
Humphrey finished first in two indi-
vidual events and swam a leg on two
victorious relay teams. Along the way,
she managed to set a new Big Ten
record (1:55.77) in the 200-yard back,
r eclipsing her own record time of
1:56.15. Humphrey won the 200 back,
100 back (54.69), and was a part of the
winning 400 medley relay (3:43.73)
and 200 medley relay (1:42.81). She
also finished second to teammate
Rachel Gustin in the 200 Individual
Medley (2:02.57).
"If you had asked me fouryears ago
ifIthoughtIwas going to be where Iam
now, I wouldn't have thought so,"
Humphrey said. "I thinkI'vesurpassed
a lot of my goals."
And so Humphrey has emerged as
one of the premier swimmers on this
extremely talented Michigan team.
Under the guidance of Jim Richardson,
1993 NCAA Coach of the Year, she
has managed to improve consistently
and made a name for herself not only in
theNCAA, but also on alargerscale-
in national competition.
"I thought she had the chance to be
good," Richardson said. "But, I didn't
think it would happen this fast."
When asked about all of her suc-
cess, Humphrey almost seems embar-
rassed by it and turns bright red.
"You would never know she's a
good swimmer just by talking to her,"
said Humphrey's roommate, Nika
Skvir. "It's like pulling teeth to get her
to talk about (herself)."
If it wasn't for Skvir, Alecia's par-
ents in New York wouldn't even know
about their own daughter's success in
school meets.
Humphrey was born Aug. 7, 1973,
in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and has lived
there ever since with her mother Carol,
father Richard and 16-year-old brother
Alecia didn't start off swimming.
In fact, Alecia began her athletic career
at an early age when her parents en-
rolled her in gymnastics and dance
"I used to do gymnastics and dance
until I was in nursery school," Alecia
said. "I couldn't do a cartwheel, so I
started swimming."
Although Alecia has given upgym-
nastics, she still enjoys dancing in her
spare time. Sometimes the team will
get together at someone's house when
they have free time and they will alljust
dance and enjoy themselves.
Humphrey's firstexposure to swim-
ming came at the age of four and a half,
when her mother enrolled Alecia's
brother in swimming lessons at the
local YMCA.
At the age of eight, some of Alecia' s
friends left the 'Y' team to join other
teams, and so Alecia followed her
friends and joined the Marist Swim
Club in Poughkeepsie, where she re-
mained until theday shecametoMichi-
gan. At Marist, Humphrey began to
train withLarry Van Wagner, hercoach
of 13 years.

It wasn't until she was 13 years old
and qualified for Junior Nationals that
people realized the talent she had for
"She was like the youngest person
to make (Junior Nationals) and I
thought, 'wow, she must be halfway
decent,"' Alecia's mother said.
As it turns out, Alecia was better
than halfway decent at swimming. In

fact, she has turned outto be down right
remarkable. But her success didn't
come without the expense of some
hard work along the way.
"When I made my first Junior Na-
tionals, I realized that there were a lot
of people who were a lot better than
me," Alecia said. "I knew that if I
wanted to be as good as the older kids,
I was going to have to work a lot
Hard work was not new to the
Humphrey family. Alecia knew how
hard her parents had worked to support
her swimming career over the years.
At the same time as Alecia was
growing up, her mother had been bal-
ancing a lot of responsibilities. She not
only had to work to help support her
children, but she also decided to go
back to school and finish her degree.
Carol took night classes at' the local
college and worked hard to raise and
support her children during the day.
Alecia couldn't help but notice her
mother's success, and some of her best
attributes rubbed off on Alecia.
"I think (Alecia) knows that I'm
bound and determined to finish some-
thing I started," Carol said. "And so I
think that Alecia is that way too."
During this exhausting time in
Carol's life, she traveled to every swim
meet with her daughter right up until
Alecia came to Michigan.
Van Wagner also traveled with her
to every meet. Since Alecia was Van
Wagner's only swimmer going to the
major meets at the end of each season,
the two developed a very good mentor/
student relationship.
Van Wagner had a very influential
role in Alecia's choice to attend Michi-
gan. He had been good friends with
Richardson even before Aleciadecided
on Michigan, and he was the one who
introduced Richardson to her.
"In a lot of ways (the coaches) are
very similar," Humphrey said. "That is
why I swam under both of them.
Even now, Alecia still calls Van
Wagner after every meet to keep him
updated on her progress.
Alecia was able to adjust to Michi-
gan easily becauseofall theclose friend-
ships she has formed with her team-
When Alecia came to Michigan,
her freshman swim class only had five
members in it. In her class, Alecia
became close friends with fellow
backstroker, Jenny Almeida.
"When we were freshmen, we just
happened to start swimming in the same
stroke lane," Almeida said. "We found
out that we had similar backgrounds.
"We just got along really well, and
since then, we've been inseparable."
Alecia only speaks of her team-
mates in the highest regard.
"One day during winterbreak when
the whole team traveled to St. Croix
together, I took a step back fora minute
and looked around me," Alecia said. "I
thought to myself - these are my best
friends; these are the people whom I
am closest with.
"Maybe I won't always be in touch
with them, but Ihave some really good
friends who will do anything for me,
and I felt that if I had a problem, then I
could call any one on the team and they
all would have addressed it."
Alecia appears to have kept a good
perspective on life and seems to know
where to prioritize things. She is not so
wrapped up in swimming that she ne-
glects the important things in life, like
her family, friends and academics.

"The thing that is so special about
Aleciais that she isn'tjust aone-dimen-
sional person," Richardson said. "Other
things are important to her as well."
Alecia is a multifaceted individual.
Not only is she one of the best
backstrokers in the world today, but
she will soon graduate from Michigan
with a dual degree in Psychology and
English. After an undergraduate edu-

cation, Alecia plans to go to graduate
school, where she is considering a ca-
reerin law. Currently, Humphrey prides
her 3.2 GPA, but knows that if she
didn't swim, she would have done a lot
"I also wanted to go to a school
where I could get an education, be-
cause swimming isn't forever. You're
never going to get a job from swim-
ming and so I had to go somewhere
where my degree was going to be re-
Because of Alecia's strong sense of
focus and caring nature, this once re-
served girl who used to look up to the
older kids on her club team is now one
of the leaders on this young Michigan
"Every year I get better at stepping
in where I should, andmake sure things
are going alright," Humphrey said.
"You have to tell people that you still
support them if they're having a bad
"I just go over to them and give
them a hug. I try to make them laugh
and get their mind off of swimming for
a minute."
Because of the great focus she has,
Alecia is the type of person who can
help keep the other members of the
team concentrating on the task at hand.
"The younger swimmers go to her
when their self confidence is not so
high," Richardson said. "She's a good
stabilizing influence."
Alecia has utilized that stabilizing
influence with her brother as well. Her
brother, Stephen, is still a junior at
Arlington High School in
Poughkeepsie, and is also a swimmer.
Alecia calls home frequently to talk
with him and lend advice in both swim-
ming and life in general.
"He probably looks up to me,"
Alecia said. "I think I help him swim
better because he knows what's out
there for him. He knows that he can do
well if he works and there's no reason
that he can't."
Everyone who has ever spoken to
or about Alecia, always seems im-
pressed. When Alecia's mother talks
about her daughter, you can sense her
obvious air of pride. Carol especially
enjoys telling anecdotes about Alecia.
"We have family here in New York
who we had given a lot of Alecia's
clothing to after she had outgrown
them," Carol said. "Now their girl is
14-15 years old and she keeps saying
that she has got to save those clothes
someday, because, if Alecia ever goes
to the Olympics, then she can tell ev-
eryone that she got Alecia Humphrey's
While at Michigan, Humphrey has
only enjoyed furthersuccess. Witheach
passing year, Alecia has gained more
and more maturity both in and out of
the pool.
Humphrey has one of the most effi-
cient and graceful backstrokes in the
sport today. Her stroke efficiency and
quick turnover in the water has helped
her progress.
If Humphrey continues to improve,
she hopes to make the 1996 Olympics
in Atlanta. Humphrey plans on study-
ing an extra year at Michigan so that
she can train for '96. With her consis-
tent improvement, the Humphrey fam-
ily and all her friends look forward to
the possibility of seeing Alecia com-
pete in the Olympics.
"I have a 90-year-old grandmother
who came to see Alecia swim a couple
years ago," Carol said. "And you can

be rest assured that if Alecia made the
Olympics in '96, my grandmother
would be there to cheer her on."
And even if she doesn't make the
Olympic team in '96, Alecia has noth-
ing to be sad about because she has
experienced so much in life. She has no
"I'm perfectly willing to have made
the sacrifices along the way to do what
I'm doing today. I want to do some-
thing that I can look back on."

Continued from page 1
for another year.
Michigan went into the last day of
the meet leading Northwestern, 503-
400.5. Though that lead was virtually
insurmountable, the Wolverines made
sure of it early on that day by sweeping
the top three places in the 200 back-
stroke. Humphrey's record-setting time
in the event was followed by Almeida
and Jackson, respectively.
By this point, with four events re-
maining, the competition for first place
was all but mathematically over. That
fact overshadowed a superb 1-2-4-6
Wildcat finish in the 100 freestyle.
In addition, Northwestern's Kim
Paton went on to outscore all other
individual swimmers in the meet. She
was voted Big Ten Swimmer of the
Year, an honor she'll share with
. The victory in the 200 backstroke
was the last Michigan win in the meet.
However, the Wolverines ensured that
it would make no difference what hap-

pened on the last day with their perfor-
mance the night before.
Though Humphrey, Jackson and
Almeida did finish 1-2-4 in the 100
backstroke, Friday truly was the fresh-
men coming-out party. Kampfe won
the 400 individual medley (IM) while
Gustin landed a third in the 100 breast-
stroke. Stone was part of the first-place
200 IM relay team, and still two other
freshmen, Wendy Gendler and Jodi
Navta, scored points for Michigan.
The key role the newcomers played
was not lost on their older teammates,
especially not on junior swimmer
"I think the freshmen this year per-
formed to their utmost ability," said
Almeida, who placed in the top eight of
three different races. "I'm extremely
impressed that such a young group is
able to stand up and take a challenge
that was given to them.
"We came into this meet and weren't
supposed to win; we were the under-
dogs. They just stepped up, knew what
they had to do and did it. They took
control, with the leadership of the se-
niors we have here."

The seniors she was speaking of
include Karen Barnes, Judy Barto
Kathy Deibler, Vallery Hyduk an*
Martha Wenzel, along with tri-cap-
tains Tara Higgins, Stephanie Munson
and Cinnamon Woods.
"We have a great senior class, and
I don't want them to be forgotten,"
Almeida said.
Perhaps the only negative from the
Wolverines' triumphant weekend was
Lara Hooiveld's faltering condition.
The Australian, clearly not at 100 per*
cent, managed just a fourth-place fin-
ish on Friday in the 100 breaststroke -
despite owning the conference record
in that event.
The All-American's health wors-
ened and, on the last day of events,
failed to swim among the top 16 in the
200 breaststroke - another event in
which she is the Big Ten record holder.
"I have a cold," she said, "but
don'tthink I'll beready fortheNCAA's.
It'll be a couple of months before I'm
100 percent."
Perhaps she's saddled with some-
thing more than acold, since the NCAA
Championships aren't until mid-March.


Ohio State
Michigan State



Penn State


Michigan's Tom Dolan swims against Michigan State Feb. 4. The freshman captured Big Ten Swimmer of the Year.

Continued from page 1
stroke, an event in which he holds the
long-course American record. Sharp's
time of 1:43.92 set a pool record and
was a personal best unshaved time. He
said he hopes this will be a building
block to the NCAA Championship.
"My goal for three weeks from now
is to hopefully get the American record
short-course," Sharp said. "I'm only
3.4 seconds from (the record), and I
usually drop ... when I shave. Last
year, I dropped four seconds after my
In addition to the 200 backstroke,
Sharp finished eighth in both the 200
and 400 IMs and swam the backstroke
leg on the 200 and 400 medley relays,
both of which placed second.
The biggest surprise for the Wol-

verines may have come from junior
breaststroke specialist Steve West.
West, who had been swimming well all
season, recorded a lifetime best time
and set the pool record of 1:58.13 en
route to a victory in the 200 breast-
stroke. He also scored in the 100 breast
(ninth) and the 200 IM (15th).
West was ecstatic over the win and
feels extremely confident afterhis first-
ever short-course championship final
"I hadn't been in the top three at Big
Tens even though I've had plenty of
opportunities," West said. "I'm really
happy about that, and I think I can do
well at NCAAs."
However, the Wolverines did not
win the meet on first-place finishes
alone. All the swimmers made contri-
butions and most swam lifetime bests.
Freshman John Piersma finished his
first Big Ten Championship with two
seconds - one in the 500 freestyle and
the other in the 200 free - and quali-
fied for NCAAs.
Co-captain Brice Kopas finished
second in the 1,650 free, third in the
400 IM and 11th in the 500 free. It was
a triumphant meet for Kopas who
battled back from an early season bout
with mononucleosis.
"I set pretty lofty goals in the begin-
ning of the season before I had mono,"
Kopas said. "I accomplished my goal

in the 500 (free) and part of them in the
400 IM. I'm pretty happy."
Freshman Chris Rumley qualified
for the NCAAs in the 200 freestyle
while finishing third. He also picked up
a second in the 200IM and a 14th in the
100 free. Junior Tom Blake picked up
his first Big Ten plaque in the 1,650
freestyle. His third place finish
(15:10.89) was a personal best and
qualified him for NCAAs. Blake also
placed sixth in the 200 free and eighth
in the 500 free.
In addition, Marcel Wouda, Tom
Hay, Rodney VanTassell and ScottDill
all finaled in multiple events, and Kent
Tschannen, Courtney Faller, Shuichi
Matsumoto and Dan Abruzzi all scored
in individual events. Abruzzi and Faller*
also swam on relays.
As for the diving, Abel Sanchez
finaled in both theone- and three-meter
events, while Eric Lesser scored on
both boards and Alex Bogaerts scored
on the three-meter.
"I was a little disappointed in how I
performed in the three-meter," Sanchez
said. "It's a pretty tough competition.
In the one-meter, I was really pleased
because it isn't my forte. I was really
happy to final and then move up to
sixth and score for the team."
The Wolverines are now preparing
for the NCAA Championships in late

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