Cardinal Mooney senior Matt O’Donnell has been swimming for 11 years. After recently winning a state title in the 500-meter freestyle and signing with North Carolina State University on a swimming scholarship, O’Donnell spoke to the Sarasota Observer about his plans.
What did it feel like to win a state title?
I was trying not to freak out. At the beginning, I was a little bit, so I had to tell myself to slow down. About two-thirds of the way through, I realized I had a pretty good shot.
What were your expectations going in?
My goal was to win, but I was just hoping to do my best.
Why do you think you did so well?
I put it all on my coaches. They’ve been working me really hard.
What do you think is your strongest skill as a swimmer?
I think I have the ability to keep going when others can’t.
Where do you think that comes from?
It comes from lots of hard work. My parents have worked hard their whole lives, and that’s the way they brought me up.
What do you have to work hardest to improve?
I always try to make sure I’m doing things correctly, as far as form. I also try to make sure I listen to my coaches.
What goes through your head before a meet?
I try to stay focused and relaxed. I’ll listen to music and do things to keep my mind off the race.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Nothing too soft.
How have you grown most as a swimmer?
I’ve probably grown most in my work ethic, both in the pool and on land, over the past yea- and-a-half. I also grew a little, so I knew I was going to have to work a little harder.
How does it feel to sign with North Carolina State University?
It’s exciting. I’m pumped for the next four years. I’d like to make NCAAs and get on the podium.