Charles Holliday has breakout performance against Michigan State


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Sophomore Charles Holliday swam his first home meet this past weekend against Michigan State.
Even though he was on the team last season, Holliday failed to make the traveling squad in 2012 and, as a result, never swam in a Big Ten event up until the Michigan State meet.

Holliday tallied two individual first-place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyle and added a third win as a member of the 400-freestyle relay. While three first-place finishes is nothing short of spectacular, what made it all the more impressive was that he did it in his first Big Ten competition.

“Not making the squad was hard to take,” Holliday said. “But that’s why I came here. I think if I wouldn’t have gotten that challenge last year, I wouldn’t have been close to where I am right now as a swimmer.”

For basically an entire year, Holliday had to watch while many of his fellow freshman swimmers traveled for the Black and Gold and competed. While many would find this hard to take, Holliday knew going in that he would have to take his lumps before he finally had a chance to show the team what he could do.

“I knew going in that it was going to be tough,” Holliday said. “When I came in as a freshman, I understood that I wasn’t one of the bigger or stronger guys on the team, but that’s why I chose here. I wanted the challenge even if I knew it was going to take some time.”

In his mind, every moment has been a learning experience.

“Being at the bottom really helped me out,” he said. “It really gave me the extra motivation to work harder than if I would have gone to a smaller school where I wouldn’t have had to work as hard.”

While his breakout start against Michigan State may seem as though it came out of nowhere, many of his teammates and coaches knew it was only a matter of time before he had success in a real meet.

“I’ve known Charles a long time, and I saw him swim in high school, so to see him finally have a breakout meet is really inspiring,” sophomore Matthew Boyd said. “We knew what he was capable of.”

Boyd is a member of the 200-medley relay team that Holliday is on, which took second with a final time of 1:31.48. Boyd says that there is plenty he can take away from watching Holliday train day in and day out.

“It was really inspiring for all of us just to see that hard work and perseverance really pays off,” Boyd said.

So what changed? Why was Holliday finally able to turn it on this year and make an impact for the Hawks? Holliday attributes it to mental focus and doing the little things right.

“I think the biggest change was just my attitude,” Holliday said. ‘I’ve been approaching practices with a better mental attitude, which has really allowed me to focus on a lot of little technical things that have allowed me to improve.”

Last year, Holliday looked to his teammates to help set an example. Now, he sets the example, and his coaches and teammates couldn’t be happier for him.

“It was great to see,” head coach Marc Long said. “The team really loved it, too. It’s a perfect example to showcase that hard work and dedication really do pay off in the end, which is something that we have used to teach this year’s freshmen.”

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