By Stephanie Taylor
Arkansas Media Relations
Senior butterfly swimmer Erica Totten has been a standout swimmer at Arkansas and internationally since competing in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. She finished her junior season for the Razorbacks with nine top-5 finishes and competing in three events at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships. As a sophomore, Totten set Filipino records in the 400 free, 200 IM and 400 IM events, while also holding the country’s record in the 200 free and 200 fly. She competed in the 2009 FINA World Championships for the Philippines as well as the Southeast Asia Games where she earned three medals in 2009. Totten was named to the SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll each of her three years at Arkansas. She is majoring in journalism Ad/PR.
Q: Why did you choose to swim at Arkansas?
A: I swam under Jeff Poppell and Todd Mann, our head coach and assistant back in high school at the Bolles School which is one of the best schools in the country for swimming. With them, I knew what to expect practice wise and knew they would help me improve to my potential. I really knew that they believed I would be improving for the next four years and also I wanted a change of pace. I wanted to get out of Florida and try something new and Arkansas is definitely different than Florida.
Q: This being your senior year, what’s your biggest goal for the new season?
A: Individually my goal is to improve every season and it definitely gets hard when you get to a certain level. But if I improve individually and everyone else on the team improves individually, then as a team, we move up in the rankings. Cracking the top 20 and moving up in rankings is our goal. Ever since I came to this team, we’ve just climbed the latter every single year. This year I know we want to try and get closer to the top 10 or higher. We also want to score higher in the SEC, which is one of the more dominant conferences in the nation. As a senior, I think your team counts more than anything just because you overlook everything else and what we do this year is pretty much the stepping stone for the years to come.
Q: If you weren’t swimming here at Arkansas, what do you think you’d be doing? Maybe another sport?
A: Definitely not another sport! I am not athletic at all, and that tends to happen with a lot of swimmers. We don’t have a lot of coordination, so we got lucky with swimming. I swam for most of my life, so thinking of a life without it, I would be a completely different person. I mean I have no idea where I would be. The people I have met, I wouldn’t know them; my closest friends, I wouldn’t know. It’s pretty much something I can’t even imagine. So four months from now, when I’m going to be done swimming is going to be a totally new and scary chapter of my life.
Q: Speaking of the next chapter in your life, what is your next step after your swimming career at Arkansas ends this spring?
A: Swimming wise, yes I could be finished, but I also swim internationally and if I choose, I could prolong my swimming career and keep on swimming on the international level, but it is very time consuming and the real world is out there. So my goal is to actually start focusing more on my career and the options that I have with my major. I really need to focus on graduating and finding internships.
Q: Since being here at Arkansas, what have you come to find is your favorite Arkansas tradition?
A: My favorite Arkansas tradition is definitely the football games. When I came here on my recruiting trip, that was the most fun I had. It was fun to see how it wasn’t just the school supporting the athletes, but it was the whole state that was very spirited. I feel like the Arkansas fans are some of the most spirited and most hard core fans there is. That is something at I hope to continue when I’m an alum someday, just return to the games and just keep that tradition going.
Q: What is your life like outside of swimming?
A: Well it is very hard to get involved in other activities just because it is so time consuming. I mean, compared to any other sport on this campus, we probably put in the most hours. It’s also a year round thing so it is definitely hard. But if I do have extra time I devote a lot of that to school because that is high on my priority list. Other than that, I take advantage of time to relax; nap time; weekends are amazing! I definitely look forward to weekends to relax and hang out with friends and get away from the pool.
Q: Well what’s your favorite thing to do when you do get that little bit of time away from the pool?
A: I really love going out to Devil’s Den. Arkansas is filled with really cool nature trails and places and you can just see the coolest things around here. Also Dickson is fun to go out there with friends on the weekends and have some fun time. They also have the Farmer’s Market. I like to take my dog there on Saturday’s. It’s just good to get out and see other people. It’s definitely difference from my life in Florida, living in the city, but it’s a totally new environment over here.
Q: What do you think is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I used to be scared of the water when I was younger. It was literally impossible to get me in the water. I wouldn’t even touch it even though my parents knew it was necessary for me to learn to swim if I were ever to go to the beach or anything. So, when people here that story, people are definitely surprised that I grew up to be a swimmer. I think it’s definitely ironic.