Spartans’ Wiedemann never gave up on the pool

Now in her senior year she’s making a splash with a trip to nationals

swimmer does back stroke
Senior Lara Wiedemann works on her back stroke at practice ahead of the Division II NCAA Championships. Photo by Sarah Maat 

TAMPA, Fla. — Lara Wiedemann wanted to quit swimming just a year ago.

Now she’s headed to Ohio next week for the NCAA Division II swimming championships, representing the University of Tampa. 

After a successful freshman year that ended with a trip to nationals, this German international student stalled. 

“I wanted to give up,” she said. “The amount of times I told my roommates and everyone that I was quitting the team and I was so unhappy.”

Even with these thoughts racing through her mind, she kept getting in the pool. Her teammates and friends rallied around her to help her persevere through these low points and her coaches didn’t let her give in.

“She had a plateau, she hit a wall and that was tough for her and tough for us,” assistant coach Phil Murray said.

During those middle years Wiedemann struggled with her mental and physical game and she thought about leaving the pool for good.

After two years, and her fastest finish yet, the hard work finally paid off.

Wiedemann will swim the short-course 400-yard individual medley race at the Division II NCAA Championships in Ohio on March 12, after she swam the race in 4:22.86 at the Sunshine State Conference Championships to qualify.

“It definitely caught me by surprise making nationals,” Wiedemann said. “I definitely had the feeling I had it in me and I ended up dropping six seconds in my event at conference which got me into nationals. 

“That was such a high for me and it was like whatever happens I know I was able to do this.”

Her story of resilience is now an inspiration to many of her freshman teammates. 

Division II swimming is tougher competition than most of the new students are used to and she’s become a reminder that your results after one season do not determine your results in the seasons to follow. 

“I’ve just been trying to get out more of my story of don’t give up,” she said.

“I can say after two years of not making it and struggling so much with the sport that I pushed through it, persevered, and I’ve come out so much stronger and so much better both swimming wise and also mentally.”

After nationals next week Wiedemann plans to retire as a swimmer. She looks at this last competition as one final opportunity to get in the pool and cherish all the work it took to get there. 

“Next week is really just all about having fun and enjoying my last,” she said.

“Swimming has put me through so much that after four years of college I can say I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished I’m proud of every lesson I’ve learned through swimming.”

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Posted: Mar 7 2024 9:06 pm
Filed under: Sports Swimming