Volume 93, Issue 53

Thursday, December 2, 1999


Swimming in Crystal clear Western waters

Throw your clubs in the lake

Books, sports and drugs don't mix

The grand slam called tennis

Swimming in Crystal clear Western waters

By Chad Thompson
Gazette Staff

Swimming requires both enthusiasm and ability – Crystal Clark, co-captain of Western's women swim team, has both those qualities and more.

These sentiments were expressed by her teammate, Jen Manley, who said Clark is a great athlete to have on the team. "Crystal's super enthusiastic and never has a negative thing to say. She's always positive."

Growing up in Uxbridge, Ontario, Clark said she started competitive swimming at a young age. "I always loved swimming – ever since I can remember. My aunt and uncle had a pool and I always swam there. When I was three or four my family put in a pool – I've just always been in the water."

For Clark, coming to Western was a hard choice as she was torn between this university and McMaster. "I [knew] a lot of people who had gone to Mac, so going there was kind of a push," said the third-year kinesiology and sociology student. "I had no idea what I was going to do, so I came to Western just for a day with my mom to visit and as soon as I stepped on the campus, I loved it."

When asked what life was like as a student athlete, Clark said she could not fathom being apart from the swim team. "I couldn't imagine my life without swimming," she said. "It keeps me busy. I have been able to travel with swimming and it's taught me to be organized and work out my time."

She said the greatest feature of being a student athlete is being part of two different aspects of life at Western. "The best part is you have two huge worlds – you have the world of school to deal with and you have the world of competing and being an athlete. You get the best of both. You've got all your school friends and you've got all your friends from the team."

As for the hardest part of being a student – Clark said it was balancing her time. "The hardest part is trying to do every thing. There are certain things you're going to have to sacrifice. I work, on top of swimming and school, so just trying to get everything done is hard sometimes. Sometimes I can't do everything I want to do."

Clark added she doesn't mind many of the sacrifices made thus far, as they will benefit her in the future.

When asked about this year's team, Clark said she saw good things in their future. "We have a lot of new people. There is a lot of strength and I think we should do well. Last year at [the Ontario University Athletics championship] we were seventh, but I think we will move up this year."

She added her personal goal is to medal at the championships and have a good showing at the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships.

Although most people have misconceptions about the sports they do not play, Clark said people shouldn't view her sport as merely swimming laps. "It is not just swimming up and down the pool. It is a heck of a lot more than that. It's a tough sport."

The strength of any team is in how they work as a unit and Clark said she felt this year's team is no different. "There are 19 girls on the team and the bond we have is very strong," she said. "We always know that if something is going to go wrong, you know you've always got 18 other people to go to and listen to you and help you get through it."

Western head coach Glen Belfry said Clark was a very strong swimmer and captain. "She's a good listener about the teams' questions and good at relaying those questions to me," he said. "She's very well adjusted and a solid citizen."

Although she was unsure if swimming or coaching would be in her future, Clark said she hopes to work with disabled children as an occupational therapist.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999