Djurdje Matic closes out swim season at NCAA Championships

Media Credit: File Photo by Sydney Walsh | Assistant Photo Editor

Redshirt sophomore swimmer Djurdje Matic said the pressure of uncertainty in the competition gave him the ability to swim as he did on Saturday.

Redshirt sophomore swimmer Djurdje Matic closed out a record-breaking season at the NCAA Championships in Atlanta late last month.

Matic matched his Atlantic 10 record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 45.52 seconds, finishing in 22nd place while competing in the 50-yard free and the 200-yard fly, placing in 49th and 37th place, respectively.

“It’s a really fast meet, so eight hits like 30 guys, everyone is in like second, which is really low margin,” Matic said. “Everyone is ready to go fast. You could really feel the pressure in the morning, and everyone is ready to go, ready to race.”

Matic swam the 50-yard free in late March, clocking in at 19.79 seconds and finishing in 49th place. He swam the 100-yard fly Friday in 45.52 seconds to match his A-10 record and earn 22nd place.

Matic said from the team’s first meet in Princeton, he knew the team was going to have a successful season and he would focus on breaking A-10 records and improving his time through the season.

Along with his record in the 100-yard fly, Matic also broke the A-10 record in the 50-yard free and the 200-yard fly this season with times of 19.56 seconds and 1:45.17, respectively.

He said the pressure of uncertainty in the competition helped him perform at the championships. Matic said his teammates supported him, sending him reassuring texts before his race.

“I got a couple of cards before I went, and I was walked out of the Smith Center, which was really reassuring, and I was happy,” Matic said. “I know I have my teammates support, even when they’re not there.”

Matic was a member of the Colonials relay teams that broke the A-10 record in the 200-yard free and the 200- and 400-yard medleys this season, clocking in at 1:19.36, 1:25.78 and 3:09.40, respectively.

With two years of NCAA eligibility left, he said he’s excited to have fun and improve his swimming time next season. He said his goal for the upcoming offseason is to join the Serbian national team and make the European Aquatics Championships this summer.

“Well, I really look forward to next year – we got a lot of swimmers coming in, a lot of athletes,” he said. “And I’m really happy with training with a lot of faster swimmers and seeing how the team develops.”

Matic closed out the meet Saturday after competing in the 200-yard fly, swimming 1:48.58 and finishing in 37th place.

Head Coach Brian Thomas said he was proud of Matic’s performance against his competition, which included Olympic bronze medalist Federico Burdiso. He said the experience was rewarding, representing GW at the highest level.

“Yeah, proud of him for sure,” Thomas said. “It’s a ton of fun. I mean, Djurdje is just a fun dude to be around, so like it was fun to travel. It was certainly a little bit of a payoff at the end of a long year and took a lot of effort to get there, so it was rewarding for sure.”

Thomas said the training required both mental and physical strength, and Matic benefitted from training with his teammates who kept the energy high. He said the level of competition highlights the deficiencies that swimmers may need to fix for next season and motivates them to strive for a better performance.

“We talked through all the mental side, doing visualization, all that sort of stuff,” he said. “And the hope is through those different things, again, we’re kind of putting the odds in his favor and touching on everything we need to do to make sure he is really prepared by the time he gets to a meet like this for the first time.”

Thomas said he was impressed with Matic’s times after a four-week break between the last conference meet and the championships. He said the time off from the pool curbed Matic’s performance, noting that he lost front-end speed during the break, but Matic stepped up to meet the challenge.

“You know, straight up, most swimmers don’t get faster at the NCAA meet, and him hitting his time exactly moved him up six spots,” he said. “So I think there’s something to take from that. I think it means that the moment wasn’t too big for him. He was able to step up and perform pretty well.”

Thomas said Matic can still work on some technical issues, like strength, breathing and consistency, at meets next season. He said the next season will be “exciting” for Matic’s performance because he still has room to grow and is locked in to improve as much as possible.

“Between what he needs to do and what we need to do to prepare him for that are all things to work on, which again, that’s great, that’s exciting,” Thomas said. “When you already have someone who is doing what Djurdje is doing, and there’s room – that’s phenomenal.”

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