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Jim Zuponeck
Courtesy: Duke Photography
Jim Zuponeck
ACC Championships Q&A with Jim Zuponeck
Wednesday 02/25/2013  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C. - With the 2013 Men's Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming & Diving Championships set to begin Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C., senior Jim Zuponeck recently sat down with GoDuke.com to discuss the Blue Devils' preparations for the championship meet.

GoDuke.com: Describe tapering and what kind of training the men's team has been going through since the last dual meet of the season on Jan. 26.
Jim Zuponeck: Since the last dual meet, we've been trying to rest up. Practices are becoming shorter, the intensity is down - it's really just focusing on technique and skills and getting the mechanics there before the end of the season.

GoDuke.com: Heading into the last ACC Championships of your career, do you have any personal goals for the meet?
JZ: Individually, I'd love to win the 100 breast. That's been a goal since last year when I got fourth. And then getting best times would be nice. I'm getting old, so I'd like to keep improving [laughs]. But winning the 100 would be an individual goal.

GoDuke.com: Given the strength of the breaststroke lane this season, what sort of showing do you think you guys will have at ACCs?
JZ: Hunter Knight has been phenomenal the entire year. He and I are hoping to be on the podium together in at least the 100 and potentially the 200. With Evan Schwartz and Victor Chen, we'd love to put all of us in the top 16.

GoDuke.com: Watching the success Nick McCrory and the other divers had last week, how does that motivate the rest of the team heading into this week?
JZ: It really amps us up because we're coming in with these points that we didn't have last year. I think we're in third place now, so we're going to try to see what we can do with it and use it as motivation.

GoDuke.com: After facing many of the other ACC opponents during the regular season, what kind of expectations do you have for the level of competition this week?
JZ: ACC competition is always tough. We don't have a great dual meet record, but we're an invitational and conference kind of team. We always taper well, and I think that's a big advantage for us.

GoDuke.com: How are the team's relays shaping up for this week's competition?
JZ: Our relays should be good. We're relying on freshmen, which is great for the team and to give them that experience their first year. Sam Skinner in the 200 medley relay in particular, that will be a big butterfly leg for us. I think they're going to be great. Adam Flur is a huge relay swimmer, and when you have Ben Hwang anchoring, great things are going to happen. He's one of the best in the country.

GoDuke.com: As a senior leader on the team, how will you help out your younger teammates at their first ACC meet?
JZ: We just keep them relaxed and make sure they don't get jittery. We've all been there before. Try to motivate them in the right way and make sure they don't get too anxious or nervous about it.

GoDuke.com: How have you seen the program develop over your four years of competing at ACCs?
JZ: It's been great. [Head coach] Dan Colella always talks about how the team has turned around and how it's so much different from six or seven years ago when he came in. Now that we have all these guys who have been through it all before, I think it shows our dedication. With the recruits that we have coming in, it shows that we really try to set an example. We have all these great athletes coming in, so they can take it away and take all the records.


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