A transition into college and Divison I athletics can either go one of two ways: well, or not so well.
For freshman swimmer Sara Ouellette, the transition to the pool has gone better than usual. She has already won events in the 200 meter freestyle, the 100 and 200 meter butterfly, 200 meter backstroke and the 200 meter medley relay this season.
Outside of the pool in the college landscape, however, Ouellette has already seen the difficulties that come with being a college athlete.
“It was hard at first because the training was so much different from what I was used to,” she said. “I also had never lifted before. It’s hard being away from home and my parents, but being here with the coaches and team has helped me and every other freshman.”
The team atmosphere has fostered an environment that has helped Ouellette thrive, according to head coach Ron Farina.
“She’s had a positive effect on the team and the culture we’re trying to build,” he said. “Her recruiting class and the class before feed off of each other, and that makes you want to be better. When she’s not at 100 percent but the team is, it becomes contagious and she steps up. She has a tremendous impact on the team.”
Ouellette thrives on the family element that swimming has to offer, even though the sport itself is largely based on individual performance. She has seen that even since before coming to college, having others to lean on is extremely important.
“All of the upperclassmen are involved in our lives and would do anything for us,” Ouellette said. “Even the academic advisors have been really helpful with everything. My two captains (Cece Henry and Erica Naumann) always ask if we need anything and are supportive in practices and tough times.”
A Granby, C.T. native, it could be difficult adjusting to new surroundings without having your family beside you. So far, Ouellette has been able to quickly make the swim and dive team her family away from home.
“My mom has been to every meet so far and dad has been to one, and it’s sometimes hard for them to get here,” she said. “It’s very important to have people supporting me, whether it’s family or the team. I need support behind me especially with practices and schoolwork, and it’s great to get that.”
Farina has also seen the team camaraderie affect the entire team in general, especially Ouellette. Already the team has shown its strengths albeit currently on a losing streak- the Women’s Team is 5-6 on the season, and placed fourth at the Patriot Invitational, which took place from Thursday, Nov. 17 to Saturday, Nov. 19.
“The environment has been helpful, and that’s because of her recruiting class,” Farina said. “They’re not just teammates but also friends. They train everyday and she’s driven to get lifetime best times and school records. She’s a textbook version of someone coming in and assimilating well with everyone and stepping up. We’re excited about the future.”
Having the support she needs only fuels Ouellette to become better.
“The guys are set on winning Big East this year and that’s translated to the girls as well as far as pushing hard in practice and having that support throughout the season. It’s a really positive environment to be in,” Ouellette said.
Matt Lamb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattS_Lamb.