Dec. 10, 2012
The thrill of competition is what draws many people to sports. Samantha Couillard, a freshman on the Boston College women's swimming team, is one of these of people.
Since she has arrived at BC, Couillard has noticed that the competition has provided her with a greater challenge then she ever faced growing up in Scarborough, Maine. She has risen to that challenge, embracing it and using it as motivation to become a better swimmer. Couillard describes herself as a competitive person and that is why she loves swimming; it provides her with a healthy way to compete.
"I use the competition as a stress outlet," Couillard said. "When you're swimming, you only think about the set you are doing. You aren't thinking about the other stresses or your academics. It's kind of a form of meditation for me."
Even the way she talks about swimming shows off a fierce desire to compete. When she goes all out in a race she calls it "attacking." She sees her ability to attack races as what sets her apart from a lot of other swimmers.
"It's a mindset before you race," Couillard said. "You're standing up by the blocks and thinking about the race ahead of you. I could be really nervous, thinking, `I don't know if I'm going to do well' or I can be really excited for the race and know that if I do certain things, I know I can beat the other swimmers to the wall."
A big part of getting into that mindset comes from the support of her teammates, Couillard said.
"When you're really revved up for a race and you have a lot people supporting you, you go out there with the confidence," Couillard said. "That aggressiveness is what gets you to the time you want."
At the Heights, Couillard has found the type of teammates who help get her mind ready to attack. It has been a big boost because she finds the mental part of swimming to be the most difficult as practice can become repetitive.
"It is such a mental sport," she explained. "It's how much you want to push yourself. You can go through the motions at practice or you can make yourself go harder. It's really nice to have teammates who will make you want to push yourself. It gets you past that barrier and makes the work beneficial."
She sees her Eagles teammates as truly wanting to make each other better. They are always pushing each other to improve. Many teams can be fractured because the competition becomes about trying to take somebody else's spot but Couillard does not see that with her teammates. That positive attitude is essential for success as a team in Couillard's mind.
Couillard embodies the team-first attitude and her main goal is to not only improve her own times, but to also drive others to improve theirs.
The welcoming nature of her team came as no surprise to Couillard, who chose to come to BC because everybody was so friendly when she came for Accepted Eagles Day.
"It was just such an open environment and there is a huge sense of community, which I really liked and it bumped BC up to my top choice. I am really happy I came here," Couillard said.
It has not all been perfect though, as Couillard has had to adjust to the academic rigors of college. It is very different than high school, with more weight on test grades but she sees the new challenge as a good thing. She has been able to change her mindset and learn that she is going to have to spend more time in the library then she used to.
Couillard first started to swim competitively at seven years old. At the beginning, she was the worst of the worst, the freshman admitted. She could not even make one lap across the pool, but that all changed with the inspiration that came from competing and now she sees swimming as something she can't live without.
"You go to a meet and you have really awesome race it makes you feel so good," Couillard said. "People are happy for you and you're happy. It's that kind of feeling that you're always striving for and it is what keeps me swimming."
Written by senior Eddie Lockhart