By Trevor Wenners
Athletic Communications Assistant
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Lauren Conte has showcased her versatility during her run as a Cardinal.
The senior on the Wesleyan University women's swimming & diving team has demonstrated a strong work ethic in the pool, as she grabbed third-place honors in the 1,000-yard freestyle and with her team in the 200 freestyle relay during a double dual meet on Nov. 18 in Lewiston, Maine.
|Lauren Conte has been a fabulous leader for the Cardinals in and out of the water.|
Conte, who hails from Methuen, Mass., was a crucial reason behind the Cardinals' rise during the 2016-17 campaign, as the unit grabbed seventh-place accolades at the NESCAC Championship and went 7-6 in dual-meet action.
Conte performed tremendously at the conference championship, earning six points for the group with a 19th-place effort in the final of the 1,650 freestyle (18:17.11). She also collected a trio of points with a time of 5:13.06 in the 500 freestyle, and was a part of Wesleyan's eighth-place performance in the final of the 800 freestyle relay.
This season, the fourth-year collegiate swimmer has taken on a new challenge, serving as a team captain for the squad, along with seniors Zoe Kerrich, Emily Kessler and Corinne Noonan. Conte has filled the role exceptionally, acting as an extension of sixth-year head coach Peter Solomon, preaching the importance of practicing diligently, excelling in the classroom and creating a unified team.
During Conte's tenure in Middletown, Conn., the squad has been honored with College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Team recognition in the previous three seasons.
The standout athlete recently took some time to discuss her favorite moments with the program, while also speaking about her plans for winter break.
Q: Could you talk about what being a part of the swimming & diving program has meant to your overall college experience?
A: Being a member of the swimming & diving team at Wesleyan has meant the world to me. I am most grateful for my teammates in the senior class, who have become family to me over the past four years. We have accomplished so much as a group, both in and out of the pool, and I could not have asked for a better support system.
Q: Graduation is right around the corner. What are your post-graduation plans?
A: I do not have any definitive post-graduation plans yet, but I have a graduate school application and some job applications in the wind. I am hoping to find something that caters to my background in psychology, data analytics and education. I am very excited to see what the future holds.
Q: Could you speak about the lessons that you have learned from Solomon?
A: Solomon has taught me to embrace – not fear – new challenges. In the pool, this translates to completing a challenging lineup at a meet, or pushing myself with a harder interval in practice, even if it means that I could fail.
Q: Solomon has raved about the way the four senior captains have led by example both in and out of the water. Could you talk about what you have taught the underclassmen this year?
A: We have taught the team that success does not come without sacrifice. So many things go into experiencing personal improvement and team progress — two workouts a day, hosting recruits and fundraising events. These are some of the many things it takes to move up in the NESCAC, while some days are tougher than others, it all pays off in the end.
Q: What has been your favorite moment individually with the program, and what has been your best memory collectively as a team?
A: My most memorable individual moment with the program is a funny one. At a tri-meet my sophomore year, I was racing the 1,650 freestyle, which takes about 20 minutes, and my cap and goggles fell off with just less than halfway to go. Finishing that race was such a huge accomplishment for me, as I had very long hair at the time. My favorite moment as a team would have to be last year's NESCAC Championship. We accomplished so much as a team, including many program records, NCAA-B cuts, several top-10 finishes, and beating Tufts for seventh place. To top it all off, Solomon was named NESCAC Coach of the Year, which was well deserved.
Q: In which ways have you become a better swimmer from your freshman year to now?
A: I have accomplished personal bests in all of my freestyle events since I first arrived at Wesleyan. More importantly, I have grown to love racing distance events. I used to dread swimming the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyles before coming to Wesleyan.
Q: Could you speak on your plans for winter break, and what is your favorite part of the holiday season?
A: I will be spending two weeks at home before heading back to Wesleyan to start winter training, and then going to Florida for our annual training trip. My favorite part of the holiday season is getting to spend quality time with my family. We are a very tight-knit bunch, with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents living in the area. I cannot wait to see my older brother, Lorenzo, who will be flying in from Chicago in a few days.
Q: What are the top-five items on your bucket list?
A: My top-five are be a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune, complete an Ironman Triathlon, take a road trip across the country, attend a New England Patriots game and visit the village in Italy where my dad grew up.
Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: When I get to Usdan University Center after practice, and there is no more chocolate milk.