The Rattler Swimming and Diving team plans to make waves and break records at the Southern States Conference in Jacksonville this weekend.
The conference, which will run from February 13-16, will host a large number of schools from the Southern region. Gardener-Webb University, North Carolina A & T, Catawba College and Radford College are among the 11 competing teams vying for first place.
The meet will also include the University of Florida as an exhibition team.
The Rattlers admit that they wil be facing some stiff competition.
According to Head Coach Jorge Olaves, the men’s teams from University of Tampa and College of Charleston and the women’s team from Georgia Southern University will be the teams to beat.
This is not a challenge, however, that he and the team are afraid of.
“The team is in great shape. I expect them to do really well. They are seeded first place in four events,” he said. “Many of them should break the school records.”
Olaves, originally from Puertos de Altagracias, Venezuela, has even offered to shave his hair off, if the teams place in the top 3 overall at this weekend’s championship..
Jonathan Smith, 20, a junior from Montgomery, Alabama, also expects great things to happen.
“We’re feeling really excited. Everybody is ready to do his or her best. After we beat Howard at the HBCU meet in January, we are ready to take it to the next level. We really feel that we can do great things” he said.
Much of the team will compete for impressive and times and records. Others, however, will be motivated to have a chance to qualify for the Southern team.
This team represents the Southern region in the NCAA nationals.
The top 18 men and 18 women from the SSC Championship will compete at the NCAA nationals. The Rattlers plan to get a few of their members on this squad.
Karl Riley II, a sophomore from Cape Coral, Florida summarized the team’s ambition.
“We feel good about the meet; we’re well rested and we’re definitely ready to break more school records,” Riley said.