Junior Kevin Howard won six races at the SUNY Cortland and Nazareth College swim meets last weekend. Howard is a key part to the success of the men’s swimming team and looks to continue his winning next year. He mostly sticks to the backstroke, but the athlete keeps up running and cycling as well, tackling a couple triathlons a summer.

Who’s your favorite swimmer? Why is he your favorite?

Aaron Peirsol. He swims the 100 backstroke and the 200 backstroke. He won gold in the 100 backstroke in three-straight Olympics. He does all my events, and he’s kind of a very laid-back swimmer. He never really seems to get too heated and too disappointed and just goes out, swims and leaves.

What’s the longest distance you’ve ever swam?

The mile’s the longest race that we have. I’ve done mile-over-water swims and I’ve done mile pool swims and I hate it.

Have you ever done any other sports on your own?

Some triathlons. The ones I do usually top out at a mile.

You’ve competed in triathlons? How’s that?

It’s a lot of fun. I ran in high school, and I love cycling. I’ve watched the Tour De France for the past five years or so, and I’ve watched it in its entirety.

How was the training?

I don’t do anything. I swim [and] I cycle just about every day, 20-30 miles a day. I cross my fingers and hope I can run. I try to do two or three a summer. … I’m waiting until after graduation for the Iron Man.

So how did you pick the backstroke?

Since I was very little I didn’t like putting my face in the water and I don’t like holding my breath, and backstroke’s those two things – your face is already up.

What’s been your biggest moment so far on the swim team?

Freshman and junior year winning Liberty Leagues. That was cool. And then last year getting third in UAAs in the 100 backstroke. That was pretty cool.

Do you have a routine or rituals before a race?

Try to make [junior] Val [Atwood] laugh. Val is our girl backstroker and she gets really intense before races, so I try to get her to calm down and in doing that it gets me to calm down.

How much of a team sport is swimming?

Coming into college taught me it’s more of a team sport than it was in high school. You score points as a team, you work toward winning the meet as a team and being on relays is really a team thing. ‘hellip; A swim meet is a really long, grueling event and having your teammates around you really helps.

What are your first thoughts when you jump in the water?

During practice, it’s cold. During a race, I’m trying to keep myself in as tight a streamline as possible and in the center of the depth of the pool so it’s kind of like your weightless zone and you try to stay there as long as possible.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.

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