Car­bon­ear swimmer mak­ing waves in New Brunswick

Sole New­found­lan­der on UNB Var­sity Reds swim team com­pet­ing hard

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­

Car­bon­ear na­tive Al­li­son Somers is fit­ting in well with the Univer­sity of New Brunswick Var­sity Reds swim team.

The 18-year-old packed her bags ear­lier this year, up­root­ing her­self from her home­town and mov­ing to Fred­er­ic­ton, N.B., for school. And she is do­ing well mak­ing the tran­si­tion.

“Things are go­ing pretty good,” Somers told The Com­pass after a short trip home for Christ­mas. “It’s been an event­ful year for sure, with lots of changes and ad­just­ments to get used to.”

The sole New­found­lan­der on the team has had an ex­cel­lent year in the sport, with mul­ti­ple medals earned while com­pet­ing for Car­bon­ear’s Po­sei­don Swim Club last sea­son, and top three fin­ishes with UNB at sev­eral com­pe­ti­tions so far this sea­son. But she hopes the best is yet to come.

Pick­ing UNB

Somers grad­u­ated Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate with hon­ours this past June. It was not an easy decision to pick where she would at­tend univer­sity, but she knew she wanted to con­tinue swimming.

“I looked at many dif­fer­ent univer­si­ties with com­pet­i­tive var­sity teams be­fore de­cid­ing on UNB,” she ex­plained.

Her decision was made while chat­ting with other swim­mers and coaches.

“I just knew,” she said. “They made the team sound very wel­com­ing to new swim­mers, which they were in­deed.”

It wasn’t just the feel­ing of be­long­ing to the group that helped Somers de­cide. Another fac­tor was very im­por­tant.

“I wanted a team that would push me to train harder,” she said. “I knew there were some fast swim­mers from UNB that would push me to do bet­ter.”

Her decision also helped earn her a schol­ar­ship.

As the re­cip­i­ent of the James Somerville Schol­ar­ship, Somers re­ceived $4,000 at the be­gin­ning of her first se­mes­ter. She will con­tinue to re­ceive $2,500 for the fol­low­ing three years, as long as she re­mains a mem­ber of the Var­sity Reds swim team and main­tains a 2.5 grade point av­er­age (GPA).

Somers is also el­i­gi­ble for a re­new­able schol­ar­ship that can range from $1,000 to $7,000 each year. Her GPA will de­ter­mine the amount she re­ceives.

Tran­si­tion to a new home

The tran­si­tion has not al­ways been the eas­i­est for Somers.

“My first se­mes­ter was good, but dif­fi­cult at times,” she ex­plained. “Try­ing to bal­ance both school work and swimming is tough, es­pe­cially at the univer­sity level. But I feel like I know how to han­dle things now.”

The im­por­tant things, she noted, were to pri­or­i­tize and stay on top of things.

“I’m feel­ing much more con­fi­dent go­ing into next se­mes­ter in terms of school and swimming.”

In the true na­ture of col­lege ex­pe­ri­ences, Somers, who wants to be a teacher, is liv­ing in res­i­dence. That liv­ing ar­ran­age­ment is def­i­nitely help­ful when it comes to mak­ing friends and stay­ing in­volved with her peers.

Her pas­sion for swimming has re­mained con­sis­tent.

Suc­cess in the pool

“My big­gest suc­cess this year is my swimming since I left home,” she said. “I’m very happy with my per­for­mances so far this sea­son, con­sid­er­ing the stress that comes along with school work and be­ing away from home.”

Not only has she fin­ished with some great re­sults, she has also tied and beat some of her per­sonal best times in dif­fer­ent events.

But what goals await her for the re­main­ing few months of the sea­son?

“My goals for swimming in 2015 are to place in the top three for at least one of the but­ter­fly events at the AUS (At­lantic Univer­sity Sport) Cham­pi­onships,” she ex­claimed. “This is the big­gest meet of the year for the majority of the peo­ple on our team.”

She also wants to get per­sonal best times in all of her events.

The AUS Cham­pi­onships takes place Feb. 6-8 at Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax.

But no mat­ter where she’s com­pet­ing, how far away she trav­els or how well she per­forms out­side her home prov­ince, Somers won’t for­get her swimming roots.

“Go­ing away for univer­sity is a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but home to me will al­ways be New­found­land.”

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