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Friday, October 20, 2017

Sports

Q&A: Sophomore swimmer named team captain


As sophomore Peyton Kondis finishes her daily practice, her mind is fixated on a title. After helping her team to a championship as a freshman, her sights are on the NCAA’s in year two. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

After one year of collegiate swimming experience, sophomore Peyton Kondis has been elected as one of three team captains of the swimming and diving team. But the choice was a no-brainer.

In her first year with the Cougars, the Pittsburgh native was one of the driving forces behind the program’s first conference title. In addition, Kondis was named all-conference in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard medley relay.

Her summer was spent competing at the U.S. World Trials, and even though she did not qualify for the championships, her sights have been set high for year two. The Cougar took a moment to sit down with her.

The Cougar: You’ve had one meet this season at North Texas on Sept. 29. How does the team look to you?

Peyton Kondis: The team is looking really good this year. We’re getting beat down even harder than we did last year. With the whole new group of freshmen, it’s basically a whole new team. So it’s a big change for everyone involved, but I think this year we look really really good and set up for a great season.

The Cougar: Being from Pittsburgh, what was the recruiting process for you like?

Kondis: It was really interesting. I was probably in the middle of my recruiting process when I got an email from Coach Hannah (Burandt), and I was super stunned. Other than hearing about it through football, I didn’t know much about the University, but I was interested, so I got in contact with her. We talked for a while, and she’s an amazing person. She’s what made me want to come here for a recruiting trip, and that’s what all the girls always say: She’s the person that gets them down here. And once I came down here, I loved it so much I didn’t really feel like I could go anywhere else and be as happy as I could be here.

The Cougar: What was your mindset going into your first season?

Kondis: I was really nervous. I knew it would be a big adjustment, especially because I had never lifted, done dry land (or) run — anything like that, which is a huge adjustment for anybody. And I also saw how fast the team had gotten the year before, where (head coach Ryan Wochomurka)’s impact really started being shown. I didn’t know if I would make the impact that I hoped I would make. So I was nervous but super excited because I had seen what Ryan was capable of doing, and that made me want to come here and get better as soon as I could.

The Cougar: How did you have such a successful year as a freshman?

Kondis: Definitely the team atmosphere really helped me. Everyone is super supportive. There are certain sets that are so hard, I know I wouldn’t be able to do them by myself. And also just (head coach) Ryan (Wochomurka) and Hannah’s philosophy — they are amazing coaches. They know exactly what they are doing, and as long as you follow what they tell you to do, and you communicate with them, that’s how you improve.

The Cougar: You helped the swimming and diving team earn its first conference title in program history, and you were named all-conference in three events. What was that whole experience like?

Kondis: Conference was amazing. It’s probably my happiest memory actually. That was such a huge goal for us. Before Ryan came here, this team was like the doormat of the conference. We got sixth almost every year, and once he got here, we immediately moved up to third. That in itself was a big feat. So going from third to first is almost unheard of. So it was amazing that we could do that and that I could have an impact on that. It was just an incredible experience overall.

The Cougar: Even though you didn’t get to the World Championships, you did compete at the U.S. Trials. What was that like?

Kondis: Again, it was just a great experience. Ryan was excited to get somebody to go to that meet from the team, and I know that next year we’ll have even more girls that are qualified for nationals. It was just a great opportunity to swim with the fastest people in our country, and it just prepares me for other meets, like hopefully the NCAA championships this year.

The Cougar: So that’s the goal you’ve set for yourself this year?

Kondis: Yeah, the goal is to go to NCAA’s in the 100 breaststroke; 200 would be nice, too, but the 100 is my main focus. Definitely to be sub-one minute this year in the 100 breaststroke. And I’d also love for our team to be able to become a national presence, where people know our names, and I think that we’ll definitely get there this year.

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