SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD, NJ -- Sarah Davis, a senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, is one of the most decorated swimmers in the school’s history. She held eight swimming records for the girls program at the conclusion of her junior year.
Not only is Davis a phenom in the pool, but she is a hard worker in the class room. She has a 4.2 GPA and is a certified Scholastic All American by USA Swimming. Davis will continue her academic and swimming career at Rutgers University.
What academic achievements are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my strong, consistent grades throughout all of high school. I've always had a strong work ethic and it has paid off these past few years. I've been on the High Honor Roll each year, which I think is a good representation of the work I've been putting in every day.
What athletic achievements are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I've been a national competitor since age 13. So many of my friends are still working hard to try to qualify for what would be their first Nationals, even as juniors and seniors in high school. The fact that I was able to qualify as an 8th grader, and to consistently qualify and compete each year since then, shows once again that the hard work I do in the pool pays off. During these past few summers, I have finished in the top 8 in various events at Nationals, which is also something I'm very proud of.
What are you more proud of, your academic or athletic achievements?
It's honestly difficult to pick between the two. I've always struggled to figure out how I identify myself: as the individual I am in the pool, or the individual I am in the classroom. I sometimes even feel like my school friends see me as a different person that my swim team friends see me as. I've realized that each of these plays a huge part in my life, as I basically spend all of my time doing schoolwork or swimming. I would have to say that I am most proud of my ability to balance the two so that I'm able to be at a high level in both.
How did you get into swimming?
I started swimming for a summer team when I was eight years old. I actually didn’t want to join the team at all, but my parents worked hard to convince me and my sister to give it a try. After two summers, we tried out for the team at the Fanwood Scotch Plains YMCA. I've been swimming ever since.
What impact has your family had on your career?
My family has had a huge impact on my swimming career. If it hadn't been for my parents convincing me to join the team at eight years old, who knows what would have happened? As I got older and it became more difficult to balance swimming with schoolwork, my parents were always there to remind me that "school comes first." My parents have always understood my desire to do my absolute best in and out of the pool. There have been many occasions where my parents have told me to skip practice to get homework done, but I have assured them that the work would get done. As I've become more independent, they know that they can trust that I make the right choices about school work and swim practice, because I'm willing to stay up late when I have to. From the start, they've been there to remind me of what's important and to support my decisions.
What impact has the community done to help you reach new heights in swimming?
High school swimming really gave me the opportunity to be recognized by the community. When we were featured in online articles or in the newspaper, it felt really cool to see the community taking note of our accomplishments in the water. The fact that I was able to see my impact on the community definitely gave me the motivation to keep doing my best.
What impact have your high school coaches had on you?
My high school coaches have watched me grow from a freshman to a captain as a senior. Though I don't spend as much time training with them as I spend with my FSPY coaches, they have still been very supportive throughout these four years. They know that I work very hard and they appreciated everything I did as a member of my high school team.
What motivates you to keep swimming?
I am motivated by the people I train with, and by the sense of accomplishment I feel when I reach my goals. My teammates push me every day, and we have become like a family. We share good and bad memories, but we are always pushing each other to get better. Swimming is the thing in my life that gives me a sense of identity, and it's something that I'm proud of. I love being able to see my hard work pay off, and to share those emotions with my teammates.
What were your favorite parts of your swimming career at SPFHS?
My favorite part of swimming for my high school was being able to swim for the team rather than for myself. On the YMCA team, at meets like Nationals, though we travel with a team, our races are a little bit more independent. Of course, we all cheer for each other and congratulate each other, but we all set our own goals when it comes to races at high-level meets. For the high school team, there is a lot less emphasis placed on the actual time that comes up on the board at the end of the race. Especially during my junior and senior years, when the high school team had really great seasons, I always swam my races with the entire team in mind. Each time I stepped up to the block, I knew that the rest of my team wanted me to do my best for them, so that we could win the meet. My time in the race didn't matter as much as my ability to get my hand on the wall before the girl next to me. Because of this, I was actually able to swim some of my lifetime bests at high school meets as opposed to FSPY meets.
I absolutely loved being able to swim for a team rather than for myself. The emotions I felt at some of our most nerve-wracking high school meets were like I had never experienced before. I had never swam with a team of girls so passionate and motivated. Through my high school swimming, I was able to experience what it means to step up when others are counting on you and do your best for them. I learned what it meant to work towards a common goal, With everybody willing to endure the pressure, nerves, pain, and sometimes tears that it took to work towards that goal.
How were you a leader for the SPFHS swim team?
From my freshman year, I was one of the stronger swimmers on the team. During my junior and senior years, when our team had exceptional seasons, I was really able to step up and do my part for the team. As one of the three captains during my senior year, it felt good to be in a position where I could speak out a little more as a leader. I tried my best to be motivating and supportive, especially during some of our very close meets when people got nervous and upset. I felt that it was my job to lead by example.
What do you hope to do in college academics wise?
I have been accepted to the Honors College, which should have a very positive impact on my academic experience. I am not 100% sure on what I want to major in, so I am really hoping to explore my interests and find something that I'm passionate about.
What do you hope to do in college swimming wise?
I hope to be able to contribute as much as possible to the team's success at Rutgers, which is in the Big 10 and means they complete at a very high level. To be able to be a valuable swimmer on the team would allow me to prove to myself that Rutgers was the right choice.
What was the recruitment process like?
The recruitment process was pretty confusing at first. As the older sibling, I was the first to go through the college application process, and the recruitment process was just as new. During the summer before my senior year, I spoke to various college coaches over the phone and they helped lead me in the right direction. The overnight recruiting trips that I was able to go on starting my senior year were also a new experience for me. I definitely got a sense for what I wanted to get out my college experience, both athletically and academically. The entire recruiting process also opened my eyes to just how much my hard work in the pool all these years has paid off. It was honestly a pretty cool feeling to have multiple coaches doing as much as they could to convince me to swim for them.
Anything else to add?
Though I am excited to swim at Rutgers, it will be very difficult to leave everything behind. The end of my last high school season was hard, and leaving FSPY this summer will be very hard. These teams have been such a huge part of my life, and I have formed relationships and made memories that will last a lifetime.