For LSU senior swimmer Alex Linge, last season ended on a disappointing note, but he’s preparing to make sure he isn’t disappointed after the end of this season.
“I feel like as a team, as a whole, we can do a lot better at [the Southeastern Conference Championships] and [NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships],” Linge said. “At NCAAs last year, we didn’t even score a point, which was really disappointing. We went in there wanting to compete and we didn’t step up and compete. For SECs, I feel like we started off really good, but didn’t go the whole way. I won’t let that happen this year.”
To ensure this season doesn’t end like the last one, Linge stepped up as a leader in hopes of bringing a national title to LSU.
Junior swimmer Devin McCaffrey said Linge is a good teammate and he knows how to motivate the people around him.
“He’s been stepping up as a leader, he’s a captain this year and his work ethic has always been great,” McCaffrey said. “We call him ‘The Hammer’ because he always drops the hammer. He’s stepping up and doing great things like he always does. What I see this year that’s different is he’s taking care of himself a lot more. He’s doing everything he can to perform at the best of his abilities.”
The SEC Championships did hold high points for Linge, who helped break two school records during the event. He was an integral part of the relay teams that broke the LSU record for the 800-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay.
Linge said he wants to set more school records in his final year at LSU, which motivated him to train harder during the offseason.
“I think we stepped up with weights and power stuff this year,” Linge said. “It takes time to get adjusted to that, but I feel like I’m evolving and getting better.”
The training seems to have paid off for Linge, who recently won the 100-and 200-yard freestyle races at the Purple and Gold Intrasquad meet.
Linge said he sees improvement in where he’s at now compared to his performance in last year’s intrasquad meet.
“I’m way more motivated after what I saw from my results of the intrasquad, because last year I was almost a second slower on the 100 free, for example,” Linge said. “I think that’s because I swam a lot during the summer; I didn’t take a break at all. I actually think it’s going to go way better this season. I’m excited.”
Along with training, Linge credits his experience in international swimming for helping him throughout his career.
Linge, a native of Sweden, swam in the European Championships before coming to LSU and competed in the Swedish Junior Championships, where he earned gold medals in the 100-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly, and the Swedish Senior Championships.
“International meets give me a lot of different experience to handle different situations I normally wouldn’t be use to,” Linge said. “So of course it was different to me my freshman year, but I’ve still been to big meets, I was well prepared for that. Being an international swimmer gave me experience to swim here.”
As he prepares for his final season, Linge said he wants to make it back to the SEC Championships and NCAA Championships and improve on last year’s results.
In fact, he’s already set goals for both championships, personal goals swimming coach Dave Geyer said are important to keep on the path to the NCAA Championships.
“I want to medal at SECs, get top three or four in the 100 free and 100[-yard] fly,” Linge said. “For 100[-yard] fly, I want to be top eight at NCAAs.”
Last season, he was just one turn away from reaching that goal.
Geyer said Linge’s performances early this season are indicators he is in the right place to reach his goals this time around.
“Last year, Alex did everything we asked him to do training-wise,” Geyer said. “When it came down to the racing aspect, he was just a small little detail short of doing what we needed to do to make NCAAs. That’s swimming and racing, you need to have that perfect race to qualify for NCAAs. He started off this year at the level he finished off last year, so there’s no building into the season because he’s been on a high level every day with everything that we’ve asked him to do. He’s there.”