Clark leads the way for women’s swimming


Brian Bae, courtesy of Red and Black

Junior Megan Clark dives into the pool at the start of a race.

Riana Buchman, news correspondent

When junior Megan Clark’s soccer career ended in second grade because an opposing player kicked dirt in her eye, she left the field for the swimming pool.

“I, like every single kid, played soccer growing up,” Clark said. “I just hated it, so the last straw was some game where a girl kicked dirt in my eye, and I cried.”

This year, Clark racked up her second CAA weekly award of the season at the Drexel tri-meet against Drexel and Delaware on Jan. 5.

She achieved a personal best in the 200-yard freestyle, clocking in at 1:51.14. Additionally, she earned a 23.26 in the 50-yard free, and her start in the 400-yard free relay totaled 24.35 seconds. In all three races, Clark and her teammates finished first.

“To me, it just means that I’m competing well,” Clark said. “Dual meets don’t matter as much as the end meet at the end of the season, but it is important to still get up and race and compete.”

Clark started swimming in second grade. Her parents required her to always play a sport, so once she quit soccer, she found herself at the pool. She remembered seeing a swim team when she visited the pool with her friend, and became intrigued. She loved the water so decided to give it a try.

She began considering collegiate swimming during high school. However, she suffered several injuries in her teenage years, one of which required knee surgery, which jeopardized her future swimming career.

“It was hard getting back into it, so I went on my recruiting trips not even sure that I was going to swim,” Clark said. “But I fell in love with Northeastern and the team, and I’m really glad I decided to stick with it.”

The Northeastern women’s swimming and diving team currently holds a record of 6-3 and a conference record of 1-1.

Head coach Roy Coates recalled Clark’s training difficulties when she initially joined the team.

“She muddled, kind of, through the first year,” Coates said. “But to her credit, whatever happened in the beginning of sophomore year on, she became a different athlete who trained with the best people on the team going from freshman year where we just tried to keep her together to keep going.”

Clark has made vast improvements from freshman year to junior year, Coates said. Over the past season particularly, Clark has improved in maintaining her strength.

Her overall endurance and the experience she’s had from last year just adds to her confidence and knowing what she needs to do to prepare herself,” Coates said.

Junior Sarah Schlesinger, Clark’s roommate and teammate, praised Clark as well.

“She’s really good at setting a goal and knowing that she wants to go after it,” Schlesinger said.

Currently, Clark is striving for continuous improvement, as she is aware of how much time remains in her collegiate swim career.

“I only have one sole season left really, so it’s like I’m trying to do the most that I can in the short amount of time that I have,” Clark said. “I don’t really have time to slack off because I want to see how far I can go. It’s kind of sad, but that’s what it is.”

The women’s swim season, which started on Labor Day, is almost three-quarters complete. Coates referred to the Terrier Invitational, a three-day meet that mimics the format of championships, as a high point of the season. Northeastern earned third in the invitational with 695.5 points.

In December, the Huskies went on a training trip the first week of winter break, followed by another week of rest before heading back for the Drexel meet Jan. 4.

Now, the team is focusing their attention on championships in four weeks. This weekend, Northeastern faces off against Central Connecticut State. Schlesinger said January is a big swim month for the team, and often one of the most difficult.

“CAAs is just in reach of us, and we just got through really four hard months of swimming,” Schlesinger said. “We got back from training trip at the end of December, and January is just either straight classes or straight co-ops with mornings and afternoons, so it’s just four weeks of a rigorous routine.”

Clark said the team dynamic is strong and everyone leans on each other for support. She considers her swim team her second family.

“If one of us is tired, you’re guaranteed to find someone else who is equally as tired if not more so,” Clark said. “We all have a mutual understanding of each other. When we’re all tired we’re like, ‘Alright this kind of sucks, but this is what we signed up for, and we have to look at the bigger picture and the end goal.’”

At the Drexel tri-meet, the Huskies lost 156.6-143.5 to Drexel, but overcame Delaware 186-114, in which Clark’s performance contributed to the victory. Overall, Coates said he thinks her biggest accomplishment is her qualification for the NCAA meet, citing her versatility as a swimmer as a factor for her success. NCAA accepts both national and international swimmers, which Coates said makes qualifying extremely difficult.

“If Megan was in a different country, she would be on the Olympic team,” Coates said. “She’s in the United States, so she’s like 40th or 50th in the event, but in some countries she would be easily the fastest swimmer in the country.”

With only a few months left in the season, Clark is focusing on challenging herself with her next season in mind.

“I want to see if I can make it to NCAAs again next year, and if I do, maybe I’ll place better,” Clark said. “It’s all about seeing how far you can go, and if I go farther each season, then hopefully by my senior year I’ll end it on a really good note.”