Volume 93, Issue 80

Thursday, March 2, 2000


Not just Gravel in the fish pond

Murtaugh: hockey's lethal weapon

Strawberry out of season this year

Not just Gravel in the fish pond

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

Sarah Gravel, captain of the women's synchronized swimming team, has completed the Western synchronized circle. She has competed, been the leader of the team and coached the squad last year. All in all, this athlete has clearly proven to be the glue which holds the synchronized swim team together.

A native from Peterborough, Ontario, Gravel is in her fourth-year of studies in health sciences and started synchronized swimming at the age of 8.

It was at thias early age that one of her instructors offered her guidance. "When I had swimming lessons, I reached the furthest I could go and my swim instructor said I should do synchro swimming."

While Gravel progressed through her swimming career, she said her parents had the biggest impact on her life and helped her to be successful both in and out of the pool.

"My parents have come to every competition that I've been through," she said. "They've helped me reach my goals in life in general – they've also helped me be determined."

Over the years Gravel said she has had several memorable experiences, but pointed to two as being her favourites. First, she was involved with a provincial A team who finished seventh at the national level and second, she captured the most valuable swimmer award along with the team award at this year's Ontario University Athletics finals.

This year's Mustang team had one of it's best seasons ever, winning the team event at the OUA finals. Gravel was a key part of this success and played a major role in building the team over the past few years. This duration included a stint last year as the head coach of the team.

Gravel said she thought her greatest contribution to the team was an intangible factor. "Positive attitude and a sense of humour to keep the team motivated," she said. "I try to keep everyone relaxed."

Current head coach Hilary Brandon had nothing but praise for her captain and said Gravel was the perfect example of a good leader. "She brings enthusiasm and dedication to the team," Brandon said. "As a leader she's a perfect 10. She's good at organization and motivation."

Assistant coach Elke Sullivan also praised Gravel and said she was looked at as a leader and mentor. "She's extremely dedicated, she's a role model for me as a swimmer and a coach. She puts everyone before herself in practice and in shows," Sullivan said. "She's really fun to watch in the water. Her strength and grace can really be seen in the water."

Gravel said there were different challenges which she had to face as a swimmer versus her role as coach. She cited at the long season as a major factor. "Keeping people motivated, going to practice every night and staying focused from September to February," she said of what is needed from a successful coach.

With her university career drawing to a close, Gravel said she is looking to her future which she hopes will include some dollar signs. "I want to be a personal trainer for some awesome sports team or some hockey team. Some place where I make lots of money."

While the sun is setting on Gravel's journey through Western, it seems that dusk may also be settling on her swimming career, as she moves on to bigger and better things.

"I'm hanging up the suit, but I may coach a little bit. When I quit in [Grade 13] I just wanted to coach," she said. "When I graduate I just want to get into the workplace."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000