Wiliams Lake swimmer Taylor Fitzgerald making her mark on U.S. university team

Taylor Fitzgerald trains while home in Williams Lake during Christmas break. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Taylor Fitzgerald trains while home in Williams Lake during Christmas break. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Taylor Fitzgerald was out for a swim at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex Thursday, Dec. 29 while home on Christmas break.. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Taylor Fitzgerald was out for a swim at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex Thursday, Dec. 29 while home on Christmas break.. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Taylor Fitzgerald trains while home in Williams Lake during Christmas break. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Taylor Fitzgerald trains while home in Williams Lake during Christmas break. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Taylor Fitzgerald trains while home in Williams Lake during Christmas break. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Taylor Fitzgerald trains while home in Williams Lake during Christmas break. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

A Williams Lake swimmer in her first year at university in Florida has qualified to compete at a national championship taking place March 2023.

Taylor Fitzgerald, 18, who swam with the Blue Fins in Williams Lake from the age of five, is a member of the St. Thomas University (STU) Bobcats in Miami Gardens.

So far at university she has competed in five meets.

It was during a mid-season competition in November she made the A-cut after swimming the 200-metre backstroke in 2.01 minutes and the 100-metre backstroke in 56 seconds.

“That was our most competitive meet because we were racing against division one and two schools,” she told the Tribune.

Comparing racing at this level to what she experienced growing up, she said she finds she is more excited than she was as a younger racer.

“Racing at the collegiate level was such a cool experience, especially at the finals because it was at night and everyone was cheering on the sidelines. It was one of the most fun races I’ve had in my swimming career.”

In March when she competes at the 2023 National Association of Intercollegiate (NAIA) Swimming and Diving National Championship in Columbus, Georgia she will swim both the 100 and 200-metre backstroke and three other solo events, yet to be decided with her coach Johanna Gustafsdottir, a former competitive swimmer from Iceland.

All of her swimming is done outdoors, often with an early morning sunrise as the backdrop.

“There are only outdoor pools to train in and all of our meets have been at outdoor pools as well.”

While she loves swimming outside, the experience has required a few adjustments.

Before she used to stare at the ceiling and had something to follow, whereas now it is often the clouds she focuses on.

“Sometimes I will drift to the side a bit or have the sun in my eyes. But I’ve gotten used to it.”

Swimmers at the university are divided into groups and hers is the mid-distance section, which she enjoys because it adds an element of competition.

She practices eight times a week, with Sunday the only day off.

Being part of a 70-member team is also something new, she added.

“It’s been a great experience. I’ve never been part of a team that big. It’s fun.”

Students attend STU from all over the world so she’s learned about different cultures, even a little bit of Spanish. Her campus roommate, however, is from Winnipeg, MB.

For her first year academics, Fitzgerald is taking Biology, Chemistry, Math, Calculus and English and said the courses are going well.

“It feels easier than high school honestly and it’s good because with the amount of swimming I’m doing it’s probably better than I am more relaxed in school.”

Going into the city to walk along the beach is another bonus.

“My roommate has a car, but sometimes we Uber. They have all kinds of taco stands and restaurants there so that’s really fun.”

With so many other athletes living on campus there are always games to watch, she added.

“I really enjoy watching the men’s basketball because they have such a great team.”

While home in Williams Lake she planned to swim and workout at the gym to keep up with her training before heading back to Florida on Jan. 2.

READ MORE: Williams Lake Blue Fins swimmer stretching her wings to Miami, Florida

READ MORE: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Fitzgerald setting an example for fellow swimmers



monica.lamb-yorski@wltribune.com

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