DURHAM, N.C. Ė GoDuke.com recently sat down with Megan Toney for her senior profile. Toney is a member of the women’s swimming & diving team. Toney discusses what’s in her iPod before a meet, the heat she takes for being a Patriots fan, her lucky goggles, plus much more.
GoDuke.com: What is your nickname?
Megan Toney: Toney or Rigatoney
GD: What do you have in your iPod before a meet?
MT: It kind of depends on what type of mood I’m in. If I need to get pumped up it’s usually something pretty uptempo. Sometimes I listen to some hard core rock and roll like Saliva or Ozzy, but if I need to calm down before a race I’ll listen to some country. My current favorite is Chicken Fried by the Zach Brown Band.
GD: If you could change one rule in your sport, what would it be?
MT: The biggest controversy in swimming right now is whether high tech swim suits should be allowed in international competition and whether or not they give you a competitive edge. Speedo’s LZR is the only thing of its kind on the market right now, and not everyone can afford one. Michael Phelps wore it in Beijing, so everyone wants to wear it now. They are banned at this year’s NCAAs, but I think that they should be allowed as long as everyone has the opportunity to wear one.
GD: What is your favorite professional team?
MT: The Patriots!! I live about 5 minutes from Gillette Stadium, so I’m definitely a huge Pats fan. I get a lot of flack for it too.
GD: Who is your favorite professional player in your sport?
MT: I’m pretty sure every female swimmer is half in love with Michael Phelps. I also think Ryan Lochte is gorgeous, but my favorite female swimmer is definitely Natalie Coughlin. She is one of the most versatile female swimmers in the world, but she doesn’t like to spread herself out as much as Michael, so not as many people know about her.
GD: Who is your favorite professional player outside your sport?
MT: Tedy Bruschi. The man had a stroke and still came back to play for the best team in professional football the next season. You can’t get much more hard core than that. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for him because he has never played for any other team but the Patriots. He’s one of the older players in the lineup but he is consistently one of the most energetic during games, and motivates everyone around him. He is the definition of a team player.
GD: What’s your favorite book?
MT: I love the Harry Potter series because I got to grow up at around the same rate as the characters. I have the set of seven books in the American and in the British versions. I’m also a huge Jane Austen fan. I guess that is the romantic in me.
GD: What’s the last non-school related book you read?
MT: I just finished Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen over winter break. I also read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter when we were on training trip, which was captivating but very sad.
GD: What’s your favorite TV show?
MT: I love House, but I’m also currently into Psych which is about this guy who pretends to be a psychic to help the police solve crimes. It is hysterical.
GD: What’s your favorite food?
MT: I could eat the Thai chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen every day for the rest of my life and be completely happy.
GD: Are you superstitious and if so, describe why?
MT: Not really consciously, but I’ve been using the same goggles since I was about 14. They’re yellow (my favorite color), so I don’t want to replace them. I also always have to check that I have my cap and goggles about five times before we leave a meet. I lost a pair on a plane once and never really got over it I guess. I also refuse to get my hair cut drastically in the middle of the season or before a big meet because I worry that it will change the way my goggles sit on my head and then they’ll fall off.
GD: What’s your best non-athletic talent?
MT: I have a strange ability to remember random trivia from Disney movies. I’ve never lost a game of Disney Trivial Pursuit or Disney Scene It.
GD: If you could have dinner with four people from history (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
MT: Leonardo Da Vinci because he was so innovative and brilliant. I would love to see what he thought of today’s technology and how he could improve on it. Yogi Berra would be hysterical to meet. Marie Curie. She was one of the very first female scientists, and I would love to pick her brain. My last person would be Charles Darwin. I took a Philosophy of Biology course last semester and I loved it. I would really enjoy the opportunity to debate some of the controversial issues that come with his theory of evolution.
GD: If you could have dinner with anybody related to Duke (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
MT: I think just Bill and Melinda Gates. I don’t know why, but I’m sure it would make for an interesting evening.
GD: What are you planning on doing after graduation?
MT: I’m in the process of applying to grad school. I’m applying to a variety of graduate programs, but my top choice is Northwestern’s Rehabilitation Engineering program because they have ongoing projects in prosthetics and orthotics development. Over the summer though, my best friend and I are planning to backpack across Europe. We want to start in Istanbul and then work our way across eastern Europe to Germany.
GD: What would your dream job be?
MT: I ultimately want to design prosthetic limbs that can be easily implemented in lower income areas. I think it is really important for people to have access to the healthcare they need, especially when it is something that can allow them to return to work and their everyday lives.
GD: Who’s had the most impact on your life and why?
MT: My mom. She is such an incredible woman. Her success in a predominantly male field (she’s a mechanical engineer) has really motivated me and shown me that I can do anything I put my mind to even if it is out of the ordinary. She has an incredible amount of strength that I’m not sure she’s always aware of, but I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to witness and learn from it. She has always encouraged me to do my best and expect great things from myself and others. I would not be the person that I am today if it were not for her.
GD: Who’s had the most impact on your athletic career and why?
MT: My club swim coach from high school, Kyle Browning. He was the only coach I swam for seriously before coming to Duke, and he taught me so much about always working hard and never quitting. I credit him for teaching me a lot of my work ethic. He knows exactly what it takes to push me to do my best, and if it weren’t for him I probably wouldn’t still be in the sport today.
GD: What’s your favorite part of practice and why?
MT: I love the feeling when you are warming down after a really hard practice. You just feel like you’ve accomplished something great, and your hard work has paid off.
GD: Being a few years removed from high school, what pops in your head when you think back to your high school career?
MT: I was really intense. In 8th grade I decided that I wanted to be the valedictorian of my high school class, and for the next four years I did everything I could to achieve that. In a way I wish that I could still be as focused and single minded now, but it’s probably a good thing that I’ve mellowed a little in my time at Duke. I still have goals, but I know that there is a lot more in my life than just the road to achieving them.
GD: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
MT: My dad has been telling me for most of my life to remember to take a step back and enjoy life. I tend to get stressed out about little things and forget to appreciate everything that I have, so whenever I get stressed now, I try to take a minute and remember all of the things that I have to be thankful for. It usually makes me feel better and not as frantic.
GD: What is your advice to this year’s freshmen on your team?
MT: Get involved. Try new things. Meet new people. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised with all the wonderful things that will result. Swimming at Duke has been an incredible experience, but some of my best memories during the last four years have come from trying things that were new and different. For example, I went abroad the summer before my junior year. I didn’t know anyone else in the program before I got there, but by the time I’d left I had made some lifelong friends and memories. Study abroad too. You will never forget it.
GD: Why did you choose to attend Duke?
MT: I’m a BME major, and Duke has one of the best programs in the country. I knew that I would be getting a fantastic education. In the end it came down between Johns Hopkins and Duke. I ultimately chose Duke because of the people. When I stepped on campus, I felt like I was home. I remember coming to visit for Blue Devil Days and noticing how much school spirit there was. So many people were wearing Duke apparel. I hadn’t seen that at any other college. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be here, and the people I met were so involved on campus. I knew I wanted to be a Blue Devil because I felt like I would get so much more than just a degree here. I wanted to be a part of this community.