On Campus: Nazareth College Senior Emily Lesher

By Brian Savard

SELINSGROVE, Pennsylvania, August 29. OFTENTIMES, the elite swimmers at the Division III level are overlooked. Swimming World Magazine's Brian Savard looks to bring some of the most elite Division III swimming talents to light in a regular interview series called On Campus. The series will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the nation's top Division III swimmers as well as celebrate their accomplishments in the pool and in the classroom.

The first swimmer on tap is Emily Lesher, a Nazareth College senior. Lesher is a speech pathology major hailing from Sherrill, N.Y. Lesher competed in the 2007 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, winning the 400 IM in a Division III-record time of 4:22.75, placing fifth in the 200 IM (2:05.55) and 10th in the 200 backstroke (2:06.06).

What is your GPA?:
I have a 3.5 GPA.

What is your favorite movie?:
'How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'

What one song psyches you up the most before a race?:
˜Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool. I listen to it before every race.

Activities on campus (other than swimming):
I work as a student-athlete mentor in the SAMS program. In addition, I work as an Adopt-a-Tiger swim mentor where we mentor a swimmer from an area club team. I also work as a lifeguard.

Collegiate awards won (both academic and athletic):
-National Champion in the 400IM at Division III Swimming and Diving Nationals 07
-Academic All-American in 06 and 07

All-American Honors
-400 IM in 2007
-200 IM in 2007
-400 IM in 2006
-200 IM in 2006

All-American Honorable Mention
-200 backstroke in 2007
-400 IM in 2005

-Dean's List (Spring 07, Fall 06, Spring 06, Fall 05, and Spring 05)
-Local college female Athlete of the Year award from the Rochester Press-Radio Club 07
-WHAM Local College Sportswoman of the Year in 2007
-Three-time NYSWCAA Swimmer of the Meet award (05, 06, 07)
-Empire 8 Swimmer of the Meet in 2006 and 2007
-Empire 8 Rookie of the Meet in 2005
-Rochester Area Athletics: Swimmer of the year in 2005 and 2006
-NYSWCAA Scholar-Athlete Award 2007 and 2006

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?:
I hope that I will be settling into a career that I love and starting to think about my future. I hope that I will have some chance to continue with my swimming career down the road, whether it is coaching or something like that. As I don't really think I will swim competitively after I graduate, but I can see myself swimming for fun and maybe even doing triathlons.

What made you choose the college that you attend?:
I chose Nazareth College because the small campus appealed to me. I liked the idea of being known in my classes by my professors and it was a place where I could balance athletics and academics. Division III athletics appealed to me because I saw it as a place where I could both succeed and also grow as an athlete and a student. I wanted to stay somewhere in New York state because I wanted to stay relatively close to home. Nazareth College was the first place I visited and it ended up being the only place I visited since after visiting the campus and meeting the team, I knew that it was the place for me. The tight bond between the swimmers on this team appealed to me, and I knew it was a place where swimming would be challenging, but at the same time enjoyable.

At what point in your swimming career did you realize your talent as an elite swimmer?:
Part of me doesn't believe that I am an elite swimmer because I set such high goals and expectations for myself. However, I have accomplished many things that people can only dream about. My accomplishments never really sink in until I hear about what other people say about them.

What are your goals for the 2007-08 season?:
For the 2007-08 season, my goals are to make the most of my last year in college. I would like to end my collegiate career with another great performance at Nationals. I don't like to set goals based on winning events or placing well at Nationals, because I can only control my own performances. My goals are to continue to work the hardest that I can, getting some personal best times and to continue to build a team that makes swimming more enjoyable everyday.

What advice would you give to a high school swimmer with your talent looking at colleges?:
Don't settle for a college just for swimming, make sure you choose a college that fits you as a student, a person and an athlete. Most people will only be swimming competitively until the end of their college years, and very few people go on after college to be successful in the sport of swimming. Therefore, academics is a very important aspect in college as you will be spending the rest of your life building off of that academic base you receive in college.

What is the most difficult challenge that you've had to overcome in your swimming career?:
The most difficult challenge I've had to face is competing against my twin sister in swimming when I was younger and again during college.

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