By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn’s swim team will be easy to spot at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships this week in Knoxville, Tenn. They’re the ones who are not sitting down.
“We are always standing up, when our other swimmers are racing,” said senior All-American Natasha Lloyd. “People aren’t sitting in the bleachers. We’re standing up. We’re yelling. We’re screaming. We’re on the edge of the pool, invested in everyone else. And I think that’s what makes us stand out.”
Lloyd figures to be a top contender in the 100 and 200-meter breaststrokes. She’s swept both events in four dual meets this season, against Wisconsin, Kentucky, Alabama and Florida.
“It’s such a fun meet,” she said. “It’s my favorite meet of the year because we have the whole team together, men and women. It’s just a blast. The atmosphere is always great. I’ve started getting emotional thinking about the fact that this is my last SECs with the team.”
Lloyd’s 200 time, 2:12:42, ranks 13th-fastest in the nation this season, while her 100 time, 1:01:45, is the 14th-fastest.
“Texas A&M, especially, has a lot of good breaststroke women,” Lloyd said. “I typically thrive off having competitors. That’s something I lacked in New Zealand, depth of competition. So being able to have people, as good as, but typically better than me is a great opportunity to make me better.”
Lloyd stands ready with advice for her younger teammates who will be swimming in their first SEC Championships.
“Try not to let it overwhelm you,” she said. “The noise is unreal. It is so loud. Try and take that in a positive, exciting way, rather than a threatening way. Looking at it as a challenge, but also be able to put your headphones in or remove yourself to a quiet corner so you can remain true to yourself and not get lost in the excitement, because it is a really crazy time.”
Four years ago, Lloyd traveled more than 8,000 miles from New Zealand to join the Auburn program.
“I committed to Auburn and have never looked back or questioned my decision once,” she said. “The support for each other. It’s so cliché. We say it all the time, but the Auburn Family is real. Considering my real family is on the other side of the world, it’s saying a lot that I have become so comfortable here. This is definitely my home.”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) February 14, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer