Athletics & Recreation

Senior Samantha Corea leaves as DU’s most decorated swimmer

Samantha Corea will leave DU with eight school records, more than any swimmer in school history. She finished off her impressive collegiate resume by breaking three DU records and medaling twice at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Samantha Corea will leave DU with eight school records, more than any swimmer in school history. She finished off her impressive collegiate resume by breaking three DU records and medaling twice at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Some exceptional athletes have the talent and skill simply to show up and upstage the opposition, but University of Denver swimmer Samantha Corea’s progression is a model that can be beneficial to all. Her accomplishments, in and out of the pool, are the product of an age-old recipe for success: hard work.

Corea, who came to DU from Vancouver, B.C., spent her college career rewriting the Pioneer record books. The senior will leave DU with eight school records, more than any swimmer in school history. She finished off her impressive collegiate resume by breaking three DU records and medaling twice at the 2015 NCAA Championships.

Her time of 50.86 in the 100 butterfly was second only to Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell, who set a new American record with a time of 49.81. Corea went on to break another DU record (her own) in the 200 back, with a third-place time of 1:50.87, three seconds behind Cal’s U.S. Olympian Missy Franklin. Corea’s efforts led the Pioneers to a 28th-place finish.

“If you were to tell me my freshman year that one day I would be standing on the podium at NCAAs, I would have called you a liar,” Corea says. “To be completely honest, I was a terribly lazy swimmer before I came to DU, and I wouldn’t always show up to practice. I eventually realized that being lazy would get me nowhere in life, and that if I kept with my old ways, I wouldn’t achieve the level of success that I wanted. I quickly adopted a new attitude that not only benefited me in the water, but also academically.”

After adopting her new mindset, Corea blossomed into a model student-athlete, a three-time All-American and the best female swimmer in school history. She was named DU’s Most Valuable Freshman and Sportswoman of the Year in 2012. In 2013, she was named WAC Swimmer of the Year; she did the same in the Summit League in 2014 and 2015. Her seventh-place finish in the 200 backstroke at the 2014 NCAA Championships was the best ever at DU until she one-upped her own performance with a second- and third-place in 2015.

“Every year, she got better,” says Brian Schrader, head coach of the Pioneers swimming and diving team. “She changed her technique to work more and more on underwater kicking and developed a better technique for her butterfly and mentally how she was going to race her races. She embraced the weight room; she might be the strongest female swimmer I have coached.”

The hard work didn’t just lead to success in the pool. Corea also embraced the term “student-athlete” as a two-part responsibility. As a double major in English and studio art, she holds an impressive 3.75 GPA and has been named to the conference All-Academic team three times.

“She was in a major that required a lot of hours in the studio,” Schrader says. “It is really impressive how she managed that over four years, coming to nine swimming practices per week and three weight-room sessions.”

Regardless of what career path Corea pursues, she has set herself up for success wherever she goes. For now, though, she’s not leaving the pool. She recently won Canada’s National Title in the 50 fly and is on track to compete for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team in 2016.

“Coming in second to the world record holder, Kelsi Worrell, and third to the Olympian Missy Franklin was such an educational and thrilling experience for me,” she says. “I thought to myself, ‘If I’m standing up here on this podium with some of the greatest women in the sport, that must mean I’m doing something right.’”

DU’s spring undergraduate Commencement ceremony is at 9:30 a.m. June 6; visit the Commencement page for more information.

 

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