Just when he thought his collegiate swimming career was over, Georgia Tech’s Eric Chiu extended it for a few weeks.
At the Yellow Jacket Championship Qualifier March 8-9, the Lakeside alum swam a school-record time of 46.45 in the 100 fly, qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championship being held Thursday, March 28 to Saturday, March 30 in Indianapolis. Chiu’s qualifying time came on the heels of a then-school record time of 47.03 in the event at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, earning a bronze medal in the process.
“After the ACCs I was sort of halfway out the door,” said Chiu. “I had finished my last rest meet and this was sort of a shot in the dark to see what happens and to have that kind of swim after your last taper meet is huge. It’s still sinking in a little bit.”
At least one member on a relay team must qualify individually in order for the team to compete in the championship. Chiu’s performance ensured that the school’s 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay, on which he swims a leg, advanced to the competition.
“I’m thrilled for Eric and our four relay teams,” said head coach Courtney Shealy Hart in a statement on the school’s Web site.
Chiu’s final season was his best in the 100 fly, and he credits his participation in the 2012 Olympic Trials over the summer as the catapult.
”I think one builds off the other,” Chiu said. “I mean, the Olympic Trials was a great stepping-stone to really shifting my mentality into my last year. When you go to the trials it’s a pretty humbling experience, because you’re swimming alongside the Olympians, obviously. You’ve got to look at yourself and think you’re one of the fastest swimmers in the nation, so you better act like it.”
Before leaving Lakeside, Chiu won Georgia High School Association state titles in the 100 breast, 100 back and 100 free. Swimming in the Aiken-Augusta Swim League, he was prepared athletically for the rigors of collegiate swimming.
“Being a sprinter and coming out of a long-distance program, which ASL is, I was almost over-prepared for what I was given at Tech my first year,” Chiu said. “They would give me a set, and I would look at it and think, you know, I did this every other day back in high school. Swimming in the Augusta area is no joke.”
Whatever happens at the championships, Chiu will be sure to enjoy himself.
“Going into NCAAs, I can’t have too many expectations of myself,” Chiu said. “I’ve gotten this far and it’s exceeded all my expectations. Just to be there and have some fun, kick some butt with my teammates.”