Amherst Swimmer Tells How to Make It to the Collegiate Level

Ever wonder what it’s like to swim at college level? Have you ever thought about trying to fit in with a group, enjoy your experiences, and also improve your sport? Division 3 swimmer, Clare Leonard, has experienced all of these situations and has been successfully swimming and getting an excellent education at Amherst College.

How Clare Got Her Start

Clare Leonard started swimming at the age of 10. She had been swimming at a community pool over the summer. She and some friends discovered a local swim team, Swim City in Long Beach, CA, that competed regularly, and she decided to swim full time. She continued to swim with Swim City and also with her high school, Long Beach Polytechnic. Her goals were to improve her sport and excel in school. With her work ethic, she achieved success in school and in swim.


She is currently in her second year at Amherst, where she swims the Fly. Academically, she is also excelling and has completed a summer internship at Stanford where she studied exoplanets.

Clare loves so many things about the sport; she loves how it feels to drop time, to work hard, and loves the environment of hardworking and determined people. She says she has always had supportive coaches, and even though swimming is an individual sport she always feels a team aspect associated with it.

Clare’s Suggestions for Future Collegiate Swimmers

Clare began emailing coaches all over the country about her swimming while in high school. Clare knew that she not only wanted a good swimming experience but also a great education. She informed and updated them about her times, test scores, etc. After conversing with the coach of the Amherst swim team, she traveled to the college and practiced with the team to get a feel of what it would be like. She instantly knew she would be attending Amherst if accepted. Clare got early admission to Amherst and looked forward to all of her experiences.

As far as training and nutrition, Clare suggests staying focused and giving 100% at every practice. She shared that it is very easy to eat unhealthy, especially in college. Clare suggests you always eat enough and eat food with a lot of nutrients.

Clare’s number one suggestion for swimming is that you wear comfortable and fitted suits. She suggests Jolyn and Nike suits. As far as gear, Clare said that her gear is provided by Amherst. But, growing up she wore Speedo fins and TYR goggles.

Some Additional Suggestions 

If you are interested in starting on a swim team, check out USA Swimming to find a great swim club near you.

If you are a current swimmer, get inspired by watching Touch the Wall, the Missy Franklin/Kara Lynn Joyce documentary.

Great books for inspiration include:

Grayson, the true story of a teen girl, training to swim to Catalina Island, who saved a baby gray whale by swimming with it back out to sea

Young Woman and the Sea, about Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel

About the Author
untitledIsabella Reina is a 7th grade swimmer who has been in the sport since she was five years old. She has competed at county wide and state meets, and has been to seven Junior Olympics. Clare was her former teammate and one of her mentors.


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