March 22, 2006
Alex Righi will compete at the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta this weekend. Righi has compiled a long list of accolades over his freshman season, including setting three school records. He will be Yale's sole representative at the national meet.
Yale's freshman phenom will compete in all three of his individual disciplines. On Thursday he will swim in the 50-meter freestyle. On Friday Righi will swim in the 100-yard backstroke before rounding out his weekend in the 100-meter freestyle on Saturday.
Righi's invitation to the NCAA Championships firmly places him among the top flight of EISL swimmers. Only five other EISL swimmers were invited to the event: two each from Harvard and Cornell, and one from Princeton. Notably, Righi will be the only EISL freshman at the event.
After a stellar conference season, Righi knows he will face much tougher competition this weekend in Atlanta, and he has been preparing accordingly.
"I went home to Phoenix over spring break and trained with my club team, AFox," Righi said. "I worked a lot on my breakouts, turns, and technical aspects of my stroke."
But aside from his physical performance, Righi is also aware of other external pressures he will face. He will be racing in a pool used for the 1996 Summer Olympics, against the best swimmers in the country, while under the watchful eye of ESPN cameras. And he will have to do it all without his biggest cheering section: his team mates.
"I've been focusing a lot on mental preparation," Righi said. "I have the strength and speed to compete, but I need to make sure my mind is set on that right now. This is the biggest meet of my life, and even though there is a ton of pressure riding on me, I am ready to step up to the challenge."
The NCAA Championships will run from Thursday, Mar. 23 to Saturday, Mar. 25. Each day, preliminary heats begin at 12 pm and finals begin at 7 pm. You can follow Alex's progress in Atlanta online at the Official Results page.
Report filed by Jamie Cordes '07, Yale Sports Publicity