South Charlotte

Royals swimmer working toward Olympic team

Queens University of Charlotte swimmer Matthew Josa will take time of from swimming for the Royals to concentrate on making the U.S. Olympic team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Queens University of Charlotte swimmer Matthew Josa will take time of from swimming for the Royals to concentrate on making the U.S. Olympic team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

It’s been a busy summer for Queens University of Charlotte swimmer Matthew Josa.

Arizona, France, South Korea and Texas are all stops on Josa’s schedule since the Royals’ season ended in March with their first NCAA Division II title.

Those are just Josa’s first steps toward what he hopes is a bigger prize: a spot on the U.S. team competing in next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

To achieve that goal, Josa plans to take a year off from Queens to focus more on training and competing, something he said was planned when he signed on with the Royals swimming program more than two years ago.

“My coaches and I had talked about it,” Josa said. “I knew I needed to focus a little bit more on swimming rather than school in the year leading up to the Olympics. That was always the plan; it wasn’t thought up just recently.

“Honestly, if I could still compete for Queens and not have to take as many credits in order to be eligible, I’d completely do it. I really love swimming for Queens. Having that support system around you is so vital for a successful career, and I’m extremely lucky to have the two years that I did.”

It’s also meant a busy schedule of traveling and competing in meets since the Royals’ season ended.

Josa has competed in two Arena Pro Swim Series events, in Mesa, Ariz., in mid-April and at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in mid-May.

This month, Josa was part of a nine-swimmer team from SwimMAC Carolina’s Team Elite that traveled to France to compete in the opening event in the Mare Nostrum series.

The SwimMAC team – led by Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte – competed in the series’ opening event in Canet en Roussillon, France, on June 6-7, then spent time training at the Cercle des Mageurs de Marseille in Marseille, France. The team finished the trip by competing in the final Mare Nostrum series event in Monaco on June 13-14.

It was in Monaco where Josa had his best performance during the European trip. He finished eighth in the men’s 100-meter butterfly and won the B final in the men’s 200-meter individual medley.

Josa and the rest of the SwimMAC team returned to Charlotte the evening of June 16.

“Our flight was delayed,” he said. “We left around 10:30 p.m. Charlotte time the day before and didn’t get back until 7:30 p.m.”

Josa won’t get much time at home, however; he leaves June 27 to compete with the U.S. team at the World University Games, which take place July 3-14 in Gwangju, South Korea. After that, he’s off to San Antonio for the Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships on Aug. 6-10.

“Yeah, I’ve been pretty busy,” Josa said. “I have no idea what comes next, though.”

Royals lead SAC honor roll

Queens finished the 2014-2015 athletic calendar by putting a league-best 138 student-athletes on the South Atlantic Conference’s Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

The Royals, in their second year in the league, had just 36 student-athletes named to last year’s SAC Honor Roll. Eligible student-athletes must have competed in a sponsored championship sport, and maintained a 3.30 GPA or higher throughout the academic year.

In all, a SAC-record 1,329 student-athletes, covering 18 sports among the 12 member schools, were named to this year’s honor roll.

Carson-Newman and Lenoir-Rhyne tied for second with 136 honorees each, followed by Tusculum with 129 and Newberry with 126.

Four join triathlon program

Queens’ fledgling triathlon program has added four more athletes for its inaugural season, bringing the total to nine signed by first-year coach Sonni Dyer.

Joining the Royals’ triathlon team are Graham Pimentel of Naples, Fla.; Elisha Smith of Greenwood, S.C.; Flynn Lancaster of Hickory; and Tyler Henthom of The Woodlands, Texas.

Queens’ triathlon program begins competing as a club-level team in fall 2015, then will transition to a collegiate-level team the next year.

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at bkisercltobs@gmail.com.

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