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Campus Currents

Kristen Zeimetz
Junior Kristen Zeimetz of Rochester, N.H., competed for a place on the U.S. Olympic team this summer. Photo by Gary Samson

Making Waves

See also:
Carol Skricki '84, Olympian
Team on a roll

Competitive swimmers inhabit a different world. For two to four hours a day, they are surrounded by water, unable to see anything but the bottom of the pool, unable to hear anything but their own bubbles.Good swimmers have a kinesthetic feel for the flow of water around them. "Because you're working with the water, you have to be aware of your body position and the feel of resistance against your body, your arms," says Josh Willman, UNH's head swimming coach. "Swimming is not just conditioning, but getting a grip on the water, finding that feeling."

Junior Kristen Zeimetz has that natural feel. At 7 a.m. each day, she slips into the 80-degree water of Swasey Pool and begins two hours of drills and laps. Her body is powerful and swift as she kicks, glides and pulls herself down the lane in a series of motions that mimic the movement of a wave.

Willman designed a series of practices that have given Zeimetz the mental and physical stamina to become one of the best women breaststrokers in the country. She will swim 3.5 miles this morning and return to the pool in the afternoon to swim the same distance. For good measure, she will run three miles and spend an hour lifting weights.

Zeimetz has been training like this for half of her life. She joined a swimming team at age 10 and has been practicing and competing ever since. From the first, her coaches told her she was going to be a breaststroker. "I have big hands and feet," she says with a smile. "I guess I was made for it."

Her natural ability and dedication won her an opportunity to try out for the Olympics in August. She was one of 60 women selected to compete for two spots for breaststrokers on the U.S. team. She wasn't one of the finalists, but just being in the race was a thrill.

"It was a big boost for Kristen," Willman says. "It opened her eyes to a different level of swimming. She got a great charge out of it, and then she brought that energy back to the team."

Bound for Glory

A UNH graduate who did not take up rowing competitively until she was 30 will compete for a medal at the Sydney Olympics in October. Carol Skricki '84 and Ruth Davidon will represent the U.S. in the double sculls. The duo won a bronze medal in World Cup competition earlier this year.

In the swim

Over the past seven years, UNH men's and women's teams have placed near the top in Division I America East, and a Wildcat has been selected Swimmer of the Year nine out of 10 possible times in the past five years. UNH won the America East championships in 1997-98 and 1998-99. This past year, UNH swimmers broke 16 school records, five America East records, one ECAC record and two New England records.

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