Senior Darren Ankosko and the Virginia swimming and diving teams are coming off the last dual meet of the season and are gearing up for the ACC Championships, which begin with the women's meet Feb. 17-20 in Chapel Hill, N.C. The men's conference championships are set for Feb. 24-27, also at UNC. Ankosko, a native of East Brunswick, N.J., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about his final meet at the AFC, his goals for the league championships, his dream job and his passion for music.
Question: How was it to swim in your final dual meet last Saturday?
Ankosko: It was good - we had a lot of fun with it. It was a little emotional. It's weird how fast this season has gone. All-in-all, it was fun and we got to throw down a fourth-year relay, and my relay won. It was a good time.
Question: How would you describe the dual meet season now that it's come to an end?
Ankosko: The dual meet season, as a team, started off a little slow. But when we started to swim against some of the bigger and faster teams, we really came through when we needed to. Especially toward the end of the season. Everybody is starting to do their thing and it's looking like it's going to shape up to be a pretty good championship season.
Question: What is practice like now, gearing up for the ACC championships?
Ankosko: I don't know when the distance group is going to start to taper - we are still working pretty hard right now. I guess within the next week we will start to see a change. We are doing a little more speedwork but the volume is still pretty high.
Question: What has been your career highlight thus far?
Ankosko: Probably NCAAs last year, so that sets another goal for me at the end of this year. In that meet, I made it in the 400 IM, and I got the chance to swim the 500 free. I came back like 13th after being seeded 40th. So that was my highlight and I am looking to match that this year.
Question: What are the team's goals for championship season?
Ankosko: I would like to see us go 1-2-3 in the 500 at ACCs, just dominate the conference meet then move on to NCAAs and see if we can't hold ninth place or even move up a spot.
Question: What is the hardest part about being a distance swimmer?
Ankosko: I think the hardest part is that we are more broken down throughout the season. Our time to shine is really when we are rested. You can't always tell - there isn't really a good indicator until people are starting to rest. We do a lot of work and it breaks you down a lot.
Question: What is next for you?
Ankosko: I am just beginning the job interview process and I actually have another career fair I am going to this week. I am looking at a bunch of different fields, really. I am an English major that doesn't directly translate to anything for me because I don't want to be a teacher. I am not 100 percent sure if I want to go back to school or not but I am going to try to work for a couple years and get some experience. I am looking at everything from medical sales to government positions - everything.
Question: What is your dream job?
Ankosko: I would love to be a musician if that could play out. I have done some things in the past, recorded a couple of songs, still in that circle of people. Maybe that could even be something on the side if I had enough money and time to be able to do that.
Question: What kind of music do you play?
Ankosko: A lot of different stuff. I play guitar mainly but I also play drums and bass and I sing. Everything from a classical rock feel to the punk rock scene. I have jammed with Alex D'Ambrosio, who plays bass, and Zach Kohl, who plays drums. So we have gotten together a couple of times.
Question: Have you always been interested in music?
Ankosko: Yeah, I played in bands in high school, and actually, I have pretty much played in one band since eighth grade. We did local clubs and all the school events and stuff. Everybody knew us - we had a demo that we handed out so people even knew our songs. I still keep in touch with those guys from back home, they are my best friends. We never really pushed our music to get signed we just did it for fun.
Question: What advice would you give to future swimmers at UVa?
Ankosko: I would say swimming here is not something that is for everybody; it is a privilege. You need to respect that and come in expecting to work hard. This is the real deal and that is why we are breaking into the top-10 in the country. It's a great time and enjoy it because it goes fast!