By Josephine Johnson
On Feb. 1, the UMW men’s and women’s swim teams’ wins against Southern Virginia University took precedence over other regular-season games. It was a momentous senior night for some Eagles and a final victory before the CAC Championships for all… but for head coach Justin Anderson ’10, it was a 100-win mark as a head coach.
Anderson earned his degree in English from UMW in 2010. After five seasons as Frostburg State University’s head coach, Anderson returned to his alma mater as head coach of both varsity teams in 2018. The wins are a combination of games during his head coaching career at both Frostburg and Mary Washington.
The coach says the Eagles have put a tremendous amount of work into the past two years. “I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of the best student-athletes in the country on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “It’s rewarding to remember what it was like to be in their shoes and see them accomplish even greater things than the UMW teams I competed on.”
Their success is an outcome of hard work. Swimming at UMW involves waking up before the sun rises, giving up weekends for competitions and losing part of winter break to train twice a day preparing for the championship. “During the course of our season, every swimmer will swim over 500 miles during our 19 week season. Every swimmer on our team is swimming nearly 20-25 miles a week, most people won’t even walk that much each week. It’s that dedication and grind that has allowed our teams to stay on top and be as successful as they’ve been,” said Anderson.
Anderson says what’s most exciting and special about the program is the talent. “… I could list all 50 plus of our swimmers and they’re all capable of winning an event for us in the regular season, and I could name half the team that has a legitimate shot at competing for a top 3 finish at our conference championship this weekend.” As far as comradery, the teams excel. “Every single swimmer on our team is a key swimmer for us as they all push each other toward being the best they can be, whether they’re first or last on our depth chart.”
Beyond winning, UMW swimming for Anderson is about personal growth. “I think people often think winning is just the outcome of the meet, or the championship final standings.” Anderson believes it the individual wins reach by each swimmer. “I’m inspired by seeing people improve and reach their goals. I love it when a swimmers’ hard work, focus, and commitment pay off with a drop in time or breaking a time barrier they’ve been chasing for years. I also love the team environment and getting to see our team support one another and push each other toward greatness,” says Anderson.
The Eagles compete in the CAC Championships held Feb 12-15 by St. Mary’s. The women are up to win their 30th straight conference championship and the men their 20th straight and 26th overall championship.
“For our team and our program we try to win every day, whether it’s doing something in practice or on a test set we’ve never done before, or hitting a new personal best in the weight room, winning happens in a 100 small different ways on a daily basis that give us the opportunity to piece together a winning performance in our meets and at our conference and national championships,” said Anderson.