Norfolk, Va. - This is the fastest man at Old Dominion University.
This is Sidni Hoxha. He holds the school records in the 50 and 100 free. In fact, since he has been a Monarch, Sidni has never lost at the 50 free. He is the defending CAA champion – a champion that won’t have the opportunity to defend his title with the move to Conference USA - is he disappointed?
"I don’t think it is about the title as much as I haven’t lost the 50 free in my time here, but this year I will give it up and go somewhere else to swim it, but I am glad everything I have been through the CAA's has been good, had some good races there, some good swimmers there, and am looking forward to the new conference and seeing what is going to happen and am excited for it and can’t wait to swim them."
Sidni started swimming with his father.
"It was my dad’s passion and that’s how I started and I love it everyday because I am good at it and being in the water all the time makes me good at it."
Good at it? He’s better than good. Sidni swam for his home country, Albania, in this past Olympics. His name is also posted all over the record books at the school and even in the pool where he swims.
"It is a pleasure to see your name somewhere, that’s what I have been fighting for since I was a little kid. To bring my name up and my family’s name up and make my parents, coaches and everyone proud. Every time you look at it, it is a great responsibility, great pleasure and enjoyment. That’s what you fight for at the end."
How many times does he check out his name while in the pool?
"When I am ready to give up, that’s what keeps me going, that's what keeps me moving through practice and not stopping or giving up – those are the times that I look at it."
Finding her name in the record book is Rachel Eckert. Rachel is a transfer this year and has already paid dividends to her new team. She swept the 1 and 3 meter dive meet last week. In doing so, she was named the Conference USA diver of the week, the first in Old Dominion history.
"I have been diving since 7th grade and I just love it – it feels like I am flying through the air and I think it is really pretty through the air and graceful."
Today, Rachel is practicing, using the three meter board. That’s approximately 10 feet to you and me. Does she get nervous jumping off the board?
"Sometimes if I am trying a new dive it will be really scary, it can be nerve racking, but after I try it, it’s not scary anymore."
If you think diving is just jumping off the board, listen to how many aspects need to come together for a perfect score.
"A million, you have to have good balance, have to have prefect timing, you have to use your legs, you have to use your arms at the right time, have to have your head in the right place – it’s so technical it can get frustrating at times, but it is part of a learning experience."
The learning experience continues Saturday when they host UMBC at 1 p.m.