Megan Clark reflects on experience at NCAAs

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Megan Clark reflects on experience at NCAAs

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By John Hagerty, deputy sports editor

Second-year Megan Clark, Northeastern’s first swimmer to qualify for the Division I NCAA Championship, initially felt uneasy entering the premier meet for college swimmers in the United States.

“I was very intimidated,” Clark said. “You would just be warming up and not really paying attention to who’s in your lane and you would look up and it’s an Olympian.”

Clark swam the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events at NCAAs, which were held at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, March 14-17. Stanford University, led by five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, captured their second-straight NCAA team championship, winning by a margin of 220 points.

Clark placed 34th in 50-yard freestyle, posting a time of 22.50 seconds; 30th in 100-yard freestyle with a time of 48.78; and 48th with a time of 1:47.86 in 200-yard freestyle. The fields in Clark’s events each ranged from 55-60 swimmers.

Her NCAA appearance was preceded by a record-breaking performance at CAAs in which she took first in the 50, 100 and 200-yard freestyle events and received the Most Outstanding Swimmer award. Only a year before, Clark’s highest finish was second place in 50-yard freestyle during her first season at CAAs.

She attributed her improved performance to becoming more adjusted at Northeastern and changing her mindset toward her training.

“My freshman year was just extremely overwhelming,” Clark said. “I was thrown into a new team with a whole different training program. This year I was able to adapt and push myself harder instead of just being in shock the whole season.”

Clark also emphasized managing her academic workload as a driver of success.

“The biggest thing is having to balance school work,” Clark said. “In high school, if I had too much schoolwork I would skip practice. In college it’s not one or the other. You have to balance them.”

This summer, Clark will stay at Northeastern and continue to train before next season.

“We have big expectations for our team, especially our incoming freshman,” Clark said. “They have big shoes to fill for our seniors that are leaving. The goal for myself is to improve individually and that will improve the team as a whole.”

Clark is satisfied with her accomplishments this year but is looking to make an even bigger splash in the CAA and national scene next season.

“Hopefully I’ll get to do it again next year and do better,” Clark said. “It’s just cool to go there and swim. Now that I know how it feels to be racing the top performers in our country, I’ll be able to get back and have a different mindset.”