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McCurdy pushes forward after strong debut at North Carolina State

Photo courtesy of Peyton Williams/North Carolina State Athletics
North Carolina State swimmer Christian McCurdy practices prior to the 2012-13 season.

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Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

The 2013 NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships featured top-level college athletes from across the United States.

For North Carolina State men's swimmer Christian McCurdy, however, the atmosphere at the meet — and some of the competitors — seemed “a little bit familiar.”

“There were a few people from Pittsburgh,” McCurdy said. “I knew a couple people who were at the conference level, and I knew a couple people around nationally. So it was kind of a little bit of an opportunity where it was a similar feel, but at the same time, it was a brand new experience. It was something that was just great. There's a lot of fast swimming, there was a lot of energy at that meet. It was just a meet that overall was just very exciting.”

McCurdy, a 2012 Penn-Trafford graduate, recently began his sophomore season at N.C. State looking to build off his strong freshman campaign, when he finished third at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in the 200-yard butterfly and qualified for the NCAA championships in the event.

In the process, McCurdy also set new N.C. State records in the 200 fly and 400 individual medley with times of 1 minute, 44.56 seconds and 3:47.78, respectively.

“It was a great year for him,” N.C. State coach Braden Holloway said. “We're very excited for what he was able to do as a freshman. I think he may have gone over what our expectations were at the beginning of the year.

“It wasn't a surprise that he did well because he works very hard. His attitude is probably his biggest weapon. It's always positive. He does a great job of taking care of himself. But I think he might have swam a little faster than we thought (he would). It was just fun watching it unfold.”

McCurdy, who won one WPIAL and two PIAA individual gold medals during his senior season at Penn-Trafford, said he was happy overall with his freshman season but thinks he can be even better in 2013-14.

“I never really imagined that I could be at this level,” he said. “Now that it has come, I'm very happy about it. But at the same time I want to keep getting better and trying to be the best I can be and help score more points at the conference and NCAA level for this team.”

McCurdy set several goals for himself this season, including breaking the ACC record in the 200 fly and either winning or pushing a teammate to win the 400 IM. He also wants to place in the 200 fly at the NCAA meet after failing to make it out of the preliminary round as a freshman.

“I didn't swim as well as I hoped to, and it kind of bothered me a little bit that I wasn't able to put up a couple extra points for the team,” McCurdy said. “My goal is obviously to go back there and be able to score in the top 16 (and) potentially in the top eight.”

This season, McCurdy is swimming fewer events for the Wolfpack, focusing less on freestyle events and more on the butterfly and IM.

Holloway said the decision was made partly to keep McCurdy fresh for the butterfly, his strongest event, and McCurdy said the plan is working so far.

“I'm a lot faster at this point than I was compared to last year,” McCurdy said.

The sophomore also worked extensively on his backstroke in the offseason with N.C. State assistant Gary Taylor. He said that work, plus some additional practice in freestyle, had made him stronger in the IM.

Through three dual meets this season, N.C. State's record stood at 1-2. Holloway said McCurdy was still working to overcome some of the inconsistencies that plague younger swimmers at the college level.

“He's still only a sophomore, and he's early in that sophomore year,” Holloway said. “That's a big year as far as continuing to learn those races. You see a lot of the juniors and seniors execute the races a little better than the freshmen and sophomores.

“I think once he finds his groove, he'll kind of take off,” Holloway added.

McCurdy said he is working on his diet and rest patterns in order to gain more consistency in workouts and meets.

He hopes to improve not only for himself but for his team. N.C. State finished 15th at the NCAA championships last season, the program's highest finish since 1978-79, and the Wolfpack are shooting for an even better performance this season.

“We're setting our levels a lot higher (and) we're holding each other a lot more accountable,” McCurdy said. “But at the same time we're still maintaining that family aspect, that brotherhood that we have as a men's team and also a women's team as well. … I think we're training a lot harder. We have a lot of good freshmen coming in, and they've adapted very quickly.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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