LEWIS & CLARK STUDENTS are expected to excel academically and capitalize on opportunities to contribute to the community. Student-athletes are no exception, but they also have the added difficulty of dedicating themselves to both their academics and athletics. This balancing of school and sport seems to be an art perfected by both the men’s and women’s swim team. For the past seven years, at least one or both of the two swim teams have been placed on the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America (CSCAA) list, as reported by the LC Pioneers website.
Both teams were elected to the CSCAA list. In order to be considered for this list, the athletic team must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and consist of varsity athletes that are eligible to compete.
The LC Pioneers website reported that in spring 2018, the men’s swim team achieved a grade point average of 3.36, which was the second highest in the Northwest Conference. They were again selected in the fall of 2018 with an average of 3.19. The women’s team earned a 3.20 average for both fall and spring.
Swimmer Erin Khong ’21 is extensively involved at LC and believes that time management is key to her success as a student-athlete. She is a biology major and mathematics minor on a pre-med track. In addition, she is a Student Rights & Responsibilities Intern, the Special Olympics Liaison for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a New Student Orientation Leader and of course a member of the LC swim team.
“Time management is a huge thing, especially being part of a team,” Khong said. “Blocking out times to study and meeting up with other students to do homework is very important.”
August Bergh ’19 is another example of a student-athlete on the swim team who has excelled academically. Bergh is a physics major that has participated in semester-long physics projects and even interned at NASA during the summer of 2017. He appreciates how the swim team has assisted him in his success.
“One of the things I appreciate most about my teammates is that we all take a lot of pride in the things we do outside of swimming,” Bergh said. “We try to be supportive of each other in all aspects of our lives and academics is a part of that.”
Although individual commitment is crucial, the swim team has the added strength of a community that encourages academic success and effort led by both the captains and coaches.
Throughout the year, the captains of the teams hold study halls, allowing the swimmers to work on academics cohesively in the same way they do in training.
“We hold these study halls to make sure we are held accountable for our academics and it’s just a really nice way to have fun and bond outside of the pool,” Khong said.
Sarit Gluz ’09, an assistant swim coach, is also the Athletic Academic Coordinator. It is her responsibility to check in with student-athletes and ensure they are doing all that they can to succeed in the classroom. Along with other sports teams, Gluz helps facilitate the swim teams’ work with tutors across academic departments and teaching assistants in several labs.
“Going to practice is like having mini-meets with her (Gluz),” Khong said. “She is always making sure that we are getting our homework done and making sure we are letting our professors know if we are missing a class for travel.”
Head Swim Coach Chris Fantz is impressed, but not at all surprised with the Scholar All-American selection.
“They (the swimmers) are super focused on their academic pursuits and connected to their studies,” Fantz said. “We’re proud of this group and the way they make the most of their time in this community.”
Above all else, the swim team understands that being an athlete at LC does not translate to devoting any less of themselves to their academics.
“We are expected to attend classes and complete work like the rest of our peers,” Khong said. “Being a part of this team is a privilege and if our academics are not up to par then we risk the chances of being eligible to compete and practice.”
The swim teams have consistently earned both the respect of LC and a broader national community. Hopefully, their academic excellence will continue this semester as they conclude their swimming season. The Northwest Conference championships begin Feb. 7 and their last meet of the season is the University of Puget Sound Finale Feb. 16.