Courtesy of Nora Clarkowski
Having been on the high school team since the eighth grade, senior Nora Clarkowski had experienced winning the state championship for three years in a row before this year. Recently, the Edina Girls’ Swim and Dive team won yet another state title, making it Clarkowski’s fourth year on a state champion team!
Zephyrus: When did you start to swim?
Nora Clarkowski: I started swimming on a club team when I was five.
Z: Why did you start swimming?
NC: My sister is two years older than me, and she started swimming when she was five too. So, I got into it because she was already doing it. I thought that it looked fun, and I liked to do what she did since I’ve always looked up to her.
Z: What inspired you to continue swimming?
NC: Obviously [swimming] is very hard and practices are very long and hard, but I really love all of my teammates and coaches. It is such a fun environment to be in that it makes it fun to be [at practice] and be with the people that you like. It feels good to work hard and have a good practice and feel like you have accomplished something. That’s why I’ve kept [swimming].
Z: Reflecting back, what has been one of the hardest challenges you’ve faced as a swimmer?
NC: [Swimming] is very repetitive and it is not really a social sport, you’re kind of in the pool by yourself—you get to talk to people occasionally, but you’re swimming on your own. A hard time for me was to learn to enjoy having some alone time in the pool. That was pretty hard since I have always liked to be super social.
Z: What strengths have you grown to have as a swimmer?
NC: Overall, time management. Since we have a super set schedule and we have less time in our day since practices are super long, I am really organized in everything that I do. I know when I am going to do my homework, I know when I am going to practice. I have everything set and organized, and it has really helped me in that I hate to procrastinate on anything. Also, good leadership skills. As a captain this year, for both the club team and the high school team, it is great to be a good leader and get along with the little kids and even be a good leader for kids your age too.
Z: How was it to win state this year?
NC: It was awesome! We have won for the past three years before this, but we knew to not focus on the past years and just focus on this year. We knew that it was going to be tough, but it was great to see the entire team to just really want [to win]. In the end, we would have had a great time, whether we won state or not. We had a great team and a great season.
Z: What has been your favorite memory of swimming?
NC: As swimmers, we spend a lot of our time just swimming, having our heads down and not doing much. But, for the club team, at the end of the season, we like to do some pranks. We like to incorporate some fun into [the season]. In my eighth grade year, we put salt into the seniors’ water bottles and we pranked the coaches. On a more serious note, during the club season, we do a lot of travel meets that are very fun since we get to be more of a team. During club season, it’s very individualized, but during travel meets we get to be a team more. It’s just fun to cheer for your teammates and be together.
Z: What other activities do you participate in outside of swimming?
NC: I do choir in school, that’s my big arts thing. I’m also very into music, so I also play the piano. I don’t do any other sports other than club soccer in the summers just for fun. I work with my church on the weekends. Just for activities in general, I love to spend time with my friends and family.
Z: What is a piece of advice you would give to other student-athletes?
NC: I feel like I was always unsure if I wanted to continue swimming just because no matter what sport you do, balancing school and sports can get to be a lot. Overall, it will end up paying off because there are so many benefits of doing a sport. For example, the friendships you make and the people you meet. Sports can help you create good relationships and bring you success later on in life.
Z: How will swimming play out during college for you?
NC: I just recently committed to the University of Wisconsin. I’m really excited about it! I’ve known that I wanted to swim in college for a while, so it’s exciting to have [made] my decision, but I will continue to work hard.
Z: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
NC: I see myself having a job that I really like and living in a place that I really like. I want to move to a bigger city. Also having great friendships from college and high school. I will be done with swimming then but I will still have some sort of sports [going on]. I’m not one hundred percent sure, but that is what I see for now.