TAMPA, Fla. – Luke Hene surprised everyone after breaking three school records at the 2019 SSC Championships, including himself.
The University of Tampa junior qualified for his first NCAA Championship appearance in four individual events this past February by shattering all of his personal best times, much to the delight of his peers.
“They were surprised,” Hene said, before practice last Friday. “The night after I did my 1:45 in the 200y IM, I received close to 100 texts from family and friends.”
Some of those texts came from old teammates at West Virginia University, an NCAA Division I school, where he swam for his first two years of college before transferring.
Hene has been enjoying a career year and attributes his success to the training environment at Tampa.
“Division II is just a lot more relaxed,” he said, with a smile. “I love swimming Div II and my times have shown that.
“In Division I, you’re stressing out about everything. You’re stressing in between practices, about what the next practice is going to be. Here I don’t have to worry.”
With the NCAA Division II Championships scheduled for March 13-16 in Indianapolis, the UT Junior is relishing the moment.
“How do I feel about the results afterwards? I’m ecstatic about them,” he said. “Those times were what I call, ‘Big boy times’.”
The Spartan peaked perfectly for the SSC Championships under the supervision of his coach, Jimi Kiner, who praised his athlete for attacking practice without overworking his body.
“His stress-free approach has actually made him not be so anxious,” said Kiner, about his potential All-American. “He takes control of his own swimming and does what’s best for his body.
“You can’t always be physically and mentally at 100 per cent.”
Hene was certainly there when the State Championships arrived. On top of surpassing records in his usual events, he was 0.46 seconds short of breaking an NCAA Division II record in the 100y fly, an event he was excluded from at WVU.
“I remember having meetings with my Division I coach, telling him I wanted to try butterfly,” said Hene. “He shot me down every time.”
If he had stayed at WVU, his 47.43 performance in the 100 fly would rank as the second-fastest time in their program this season.
On top of the stress-free environment at UT, Hene’s desire to compete in other events was a factor in him transferring.
He heads into the NCAA Division II Championships registering the third and seventh-fastest time in the 200y IM and 100y fly.