The University of Maine swimming and diving season has gotten underway with two meets to start the season. Sophomore Naja Harvey looks to repeat her stellar freshman year to help the women’s team achieve success.
Harvey didn’t expect to have such a great performance last year, just as she didn’t expect to go to UMaine in the first place.
“I knew I didn’t want to stay in Minnesota. I didn’t want to be stuck. I thought, how about the East Coast? Then I came on a recruiting trip here and it was my favorite school that I visited,” she said.
“It really surprised me. I didn’t know what I was capable of at the beginning of the season, or even halfway through the season. My last two years of high school swimming were kind of a struggle because I was not doing well at all. I am so thankful for the season I had last year,” Harvey said.
Harvey broke records in a few different events last year, setting four individual records and three relay records. She set records in the 50-yard freestyle, 50-yard breaststroke, 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard breaststroke. Harvey also helped set new school marks in the 200-yard medley relay, 400-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle relay.
“I was overwhelmed. I didn’t expect it at all,” she said. “I was hoping to get up on the record board by my senior year, then freshman year I am up there. I was happy to be a part of the record-breaking relays and to be able to help my team out like that.”
Swimming isn’t a typical sport in many ways. It’s different in all areas, from scoring to the actual playing of the game. This is something the sophomore loves about it.
“I like how it is a team sport but it is also individual,” Harvey said. “I get to be a part of a group and set group goals, like winning a meet or breaking a relay record, and I get to set individual goals, like winning an event or making it on the podium at our championship meet. It is so different from other sports I’ve tried.”
The women’s swim team lost their first two meets but this hasn’t put Harvey down. She’s ecstatic about the upcoming season and is looking at the positives.
“The first meet went well. It was a bummer we lost, but we had a lot of individual victories,” Harvey said. “It was a good first meet for the freshmen to get acclimated to the idea of traveling and meets.”
She knows the season won’t be easy but had some very interesting insight on what needs to happen for her to continue her success:
“I need to keep a positive attitude. It is hard to be positive all the time but if I can just keep the negativity to a minimum this will really help with my season. Practices are 90 percent physical work and 10 percent mental attitude, but meets are 10 percent physical work and 90 percent mental attitude. Attitude can make all the difference,” she said.
Harvey isn’t content with the records she’s broken. She believes that the hard work doesn’t stop and that there’s always room for improvement.
“I think I need to concentrate more on lifting. The team, including me, just needs to focus on the little things,” she said. “Things like flip turns and breathing. We are all very fast and skilled swimmers but it is the little things that can make or break a race.”
Harvey is humble despite her success, attributing it to everyone but herself.
“I just swim the race,” she said. “A lot of people actually have helped me along my eight-and-a-half year journey. I can by quite a handful to try and coach but I thank God, my mom for driving me to the hundreds of meets that I have had, and my team. There’s no way I could just jump in the pool and swim 7,000 yards a day by myself.”