Sports

Athlete Spotlight: Anna Barrow ‘22

Before going to bed, most Bates students probably are not thinking about waking up before six the next morning to brave freezing temperatures, rain, or even snow in order to work out for an hour and half knowing that they’ll have to go back and do it for two more hours later that same day. For members of the Bates Swim and Dive team however, this has been a reality since November.

After winning the Maine State meet for the fourth year in a row, competing against Division I Dartmouth for the first time in program history and continuing to have swimmers racing season and even lifetime-best times each meet, the training is paying off. None of this is more true than for first-year Anna Barrow ’22.

After swimming multiple lifetime-bests in the season opener at Wesleyan last fall, the walk-on swimmer was already accomplishing goals she had set for herself before the season began. Yet, when she was a sophomore in high school her future in the sport became uncertain.

“I had a pretty major injury [tear in shoulder] that took me out of [swimming] for a year, then I was in recovery all of my junior year.“

When she couldn’t swim for those two years, she dedicated her extra time to helping others in her community as a student ambassador for her school, running the Volunteers of America club, and even volunteering weekly at her local hospital. Her love for community engagement is what brought her here to Bates in the first place. She said that “when [she] came here everyone was inviting . . . it was really special dynamic.”

The “special dynamic” is also present on the team which is unique in the fact that swimming is such an individualized sport. Anna agreed with this statement, saying that “there’s such a big individual aspect to it . . .but also you have to work as a team . . . you can’t do it by yourself.”

The women’s team record makes Anna’s statement ring true. Some of the women’s team wins this season have come down to few races where not only did first place matter, but also second and third. Anna reflected back to her senior year of high school when she was allowed to return to the sport and said, ”I fell in love with it all over again, and I was 100 percent sure I was doing this in college.”

However, since many college teams had already finished recruiting for the class of 2022, she would have to be a walk-on; that was no issue in Head Coach Peter Casares’s mind. When Anna sat down with him at the very beginning of the season, she told him that she felt that she had a lot more potential than she had shown previously. She was right. Besides swimming lifetime-bests from the start of the season, her line up of events is also arguably one of the hardest combinations in the sport: 200 individual medley, 400 individual medley, and the 200 butterfly.

The individual medleys in particular show Anna’s skill since they involve swimming all four strokes. Even more extraordinary is that she’ll swim all three of th ose events at the NESCAC championship meet.

“I just didn’t really think this was how the season was going to go, but I’m super excited!” Anna’s open-mindedness about her swimming is exactly what makes her unique and fun to coach, according to Coah Casares.

“It’s exciting [to work with her] . . .so many times swimmers anticipate their results and their abilities, and that’s to be expected based on hundreds of swims and practices. Her growth mindset coupled with her talent for hard work has already made an impact on her team. It’s a terribly unique combination at the college level–and yet shows us all just how powerful it can be. She simply wants to ‘see how things go’ first and foremost.”

Anna’s story of dedication and resilience in order to continue doing the sport she loved proves that there is truly more to swimming than just staring at a black “T” at the bottom of the pool for hours. It’s the camaraderie, the cheering, the bus rides, the meals spent together. It’s the million little things that push these athletes to get out of bed and walk out into cold, knowing what awaits them for the day.

The Bates Swim and Dive team next competes Feb. 2 in Worcester, Mass. for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Invitational. After that, both teams tackle the NESCAC Championships held at Wesleyan (Feb. 14-17) and Middlebury (Feb. 21-24) for the women and men’s team respectively.

“I had a pretty major injury [tear in shoulder] that took me out of [swimming] for a year, then I was in recovery all of my junior year.“

When she couldn’t swim for those two years, she dedicated her extra time to helping others in her community as a student ambassador for her school, running the Volunteers of America club, and even volunteering weekly at her local hospital. Her love for community engagement is what brought her here to Bates in the first place. She said that “when [she] came here everyone was inviting . . . it was really special dynamic.”

The “special dynamic” is also present on the team which is unique in the fact that swimming is such an individualized sport. Anna agreed with this statement, saying that “there’s such a big individual aspect to it . . .but also you have to work as a team . . . you can’t do it by yourself.”

The women’s team record makes Anna’s statement ring true. Some of the women’s team wins this season have come down to few races where not only did first place matter, but also second and third. Anna reflected back to her senior year of high school when she was allowed to return to the sport and said, ”I fell in love with it all over again, and I was 100 percent sure I was doing this in college.”

However, since many college teams had already finished recruiting for the class of 2022, she would have to be a walk-on; that was no issue in Head Coach Peter Casares’s mind. When Anna sat down with him at the very beginning of the season, she told him that she felt that she had a lot more potential than she had shown previously. She was right. Besides swimming lifetime-bests from the start of the season, her line up of events is also arguably one of the hardest combinations in the sport: 200 individual medley, 400 individual medley, and the 200 butterfly.

The individual medleys in particular show Anna’s skill since they involve swimming all four strokes. Even more extraordinary is that she’ll swim all three of th ose events at the NESCAC championship meet.

“I just didn’t really think this was how the season was going to go, but I’m super excited!” Anna’s open-mindedness about her swimming is exactly what makes her unique and fun to coach, according to Coah Casares.

“It’s exciting [to work with her] . . .so many times swimmers anticipate their results and their abilities, and that’s to be expected based on hundreds of swims and practices. Her growth mindset coupled with her talent for hard work has already made an impact on her team. It’s a terribly unique combination at the college level–and yet shows us all just how powerful it can be. She simply wants to ‘see how things go’ first and foremost.”

Anna’s story of dedication and resilience in order to continue doing the sport she loved proves that there is truly more to swimming than just staring at a black “T” at the bottom of the pool for hours. It’s the camaraderie, the cheering, the bus rides, the meals spent together. It’s the million little things that push these athletes to get out of bed and walk out into cold, knowing what awaits them for the day.

The Bates Swim and Dive team next competes Feb. 2 in Worcester, Mass. for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Invitational. After that, both teams tackle the NESCAC Championships held at Wesleyan (Feb. 14-17) and Middlebury (Feb. 21-24) for the women and men’s team respectively.

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