By Jenny Anderson '14
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Jamie Swartz is headed home to San Diego on Thursday to compete in the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) Championships. The Broncos are competing against Cal St. East Bay in the first round of WWPA's, which should be a good match up. The Broncos fell to Cal St. East Bay at the beginning of the season 3-6, but then one week later won 10-7. At the Bronco tournament two weeks ago, Cal St. East Bay defeated the Broncos 8-11. This is Swartz's third season with the Broncos, and by far her best one. Swartz leads the team with 44 steals this season.
"Jamie has been having a great junior year. She has emerged as one of the best defensive players on our team, and very often we are matching her up with the other team's leading goal scorer," said SCU head coach Keith Wilbur. "She is unique in that she can guard both a quick driver or a strong 2M player, and this versatility is extremely valuable when making defensive match-ups. At the same time, she has a strong shot and great speed, and she is becoming more and more adept at using those skills on the offensive end as well."
Swartz recently spoke with SantaClaraBroncos.com about what has contributed to her success.
JA: You've experienced a breakthrough this season and you have had your best collegiate season by far. You've started in 10 games, you've more than doubled the number of steals from last year, and you lead the team in the most steals. What do you feel has led to your break through?
JS: The beginning of our season was a bit rough, especially with numerous teammates being out for injuries. I was forced to take on a bigger role than I have in previous years, and felt that I had to put in an extra effort to perform at the level that was expected of me. This motivated me to prove myself and play to the best of my ability. Though our record does not necessarily reflect it, I am proud to say that a lot of players stepped up this year, and worked through all of the setbacks we experienced.
JA: You are one of the best defensive players on the team. What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? What is your biggest challenge and what do you do to manage this challenge?
JS: This season I have really learned how important it is to work hard at what you do. I really try to put my heart and soul into every game we play, but it starts at practice. My biggest challenge is my offensive game. I have always had a defensive mindset, but I am working hard on creating more on offensive and being a bigger threat as a shooter. The support from my coaches and teammates has helped me become more confident in my shot and more aware of how to be successful on offense.
JA: What is the best advice you have been given?
JS: The best advice I have been given is that there is no such thing as perfection. I have always been very hard on myself, but I have learned that being successful – in athletics, school, or life in general – is measured by efficiency, not perfection. No matter how hard you work, train, or practice, you will never be "perfect" in any aspect. There is always room for improvement, so I try to work towards being as efficient as possible.
JA: What inspires you the most before a game? What is your typical pre-game warm-up both physically and mentally?
JS: I am most inspired by other people. When my teammates are positive, fired up, and ready to play, I feel the same. Before a game, I like to listen to music and stretch, while considering what I need to do once I get into the pool. Creating goals for each game – such as how many times I am going to shoot – is a way I like to self-motivate. I also like to get in for warm up earlier than most to stretch out and continue to think about my game.
JA: What role do you feel you play on the team?
JS: This year, I feel like I have stepped into the role of a strong defensive player. I want my teammates to be able to trust me in the pool, so I work hard to fill that role.
JA: After losing the series to Cal St. East Bay two weeks ago at the Bronco tournament, how do you feel going into the first round of WWPA's with East Bay as your matchup? What do you think the team needs to focus on to secure a win on Friday?
JS: Although losing to East Bay at the Bronco tournament was a disappointment, I would like to think that it actually puts us at an advantage. I am definitely more fired up to play them, and to prove that we are the better team. Plus, as the lower seed, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We have been working really hard in practice for the past week on how to shut down their key offensive players. I think the key to winning our first WWPA game is to force their weaker players to try and create something. We have a strong team, both defensively and offensively, and the game on Friday is our chance to prove just how much talent and drive we have.
JA: What is your most favorite memory either in the pool or out of the pool, from the three years you have been on the team?
JS: My most memorable moment would have to be our conference game against East Bay during my sophomore year. After losing to them earlier in the season, we came back fired up and were victorious in the 3rd place game. As a team, we played really well and showed the potential and talent that we possessed. It was a terrific end to our season, and I hope to have a similar experience this year at WWPA's.
JA: What do you like to do in your free time?
JS: When I actually have free time, I usually like to spend it outdoors. I enjoy being by the water, so I like to hang out at the beach or go sailing with my family.
JA: What have you learned from playing a collegiate sport?
JS: The two most important things I have learned from playing a collegiate sport are dedication and hard work. I don't just work hard to improve myself; I am also committed to the success of my team. I show up to every practice and every game and work hard for myself and for everyone else counting on me.
JA: How excited are you to go home? Are a lot of your family friends attending the games?
JS: I am really excited to be in San Diego for WWPA's this year. My brother is flying in from Ohio to join my parents and some friends of mine in attending our matches this weekend. It is nice to be in a familiar place, and have the ability to receive a lot of support in the stands from my friends and family.