By (Cody Estremera)

The 2016 NCAA Championship for swimming and diving has arrived, and the women will compete first, having its first full day of competition on Thursday, and the men will start next week on March 24.

Compared to previous meets the Alabama swimming and diving team has competed in this season, this is a unique meet for the team.

“It’s totally a different environment,” sophomore Mia Nonnenberg said. “I didn’t really know what I was in for last year [in my first year].”

The crowd, consisting of swimmers from different conferences, and the lack of the entire Alabama team being present makes the meet so different. However, both the men’s and women’s teams are made up of experienced swimmers – only six of the swimmers are going to their first championship meet.

“I think one of the biggest advantages for me, since it is my third time, I know what’s coming up, and the environment is going to be super ecstatic and very electric,” senior Brett Walsh said. “The biggest thing I need to do is not let that get to me and just focus on what I have to do. You can’t let the environment control what you’re going to do.”

Given the level of the meet and the selectivity of competitors, the races are competitive. Sophomore Christopher Reid said the races are so close that getting to the finals can get down to a hundredth of a second.

This competition comes from the fact that there are a variety of opponents in the NCAAs. It is not conference based. Instead, the best of each event, nationally, are meeting in one place to compete for first.

“I like it when we go to NCAAs,” junior Bridget Blood said. “A lot of the best breast stokers are from all over.”

However, with all this experience, an athlete’s first time at the meet can be stressful.

“It’s definitely a little nerve racking, but I know I’ve put in the work. I’m just going to use this experience to build the next four years,” freshman Marian Yurchishin said. “If there’s a lane, there’s a chance. At this kind of meet anything can happen. You just have to focus on yourself and cheer for your team.”

For the seniors, this will be the last meet they compete in for the University of Alabama. They hope to finish their careers on top.

“It’s going to be pretty sad at the end, but it’s been a real honor to represent Alabama, and hopefully, I can finish on a high note and do what I can for the school,” senior Emma Saunders said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports