Courtesy University of Arkansas Athletics Department
FAYETTEVILLE – An avid and dedicated swimmer, Susanna White had goals of making a collegiate swim team and with offers from West Virginia and Louisville, she had a tough decision to make. Originally from Forest, Virginia, the sophomore was attracted to Arkansas because it reminded her of her home in the hills and mountains of Virginia.
In addition to the resemblance to her home state, one of the biggest reasons she chose Arkansas was the focus and importance Arkansas placed on both academics and athletics.
“Everyone here really wants us to succeed academically so it was nice to come here and it wasn’t all about the sport,” White said.
With her parents’ support she packed her bags and made the 1,000 mile move to Arkansas.
“My parents are so happy now that I love it here, and they are Hog fans now,” White said.
So far this season White has encountered tremendous individual success. The sophomore matched her personal-best time and the second-best time in school history in the 100 freestyle (49.89). She looks to notch a new personal best and break the school record of 49.51 held by former Razorback Carly Mercer.
As it often does, individual success lends itself to team success and this season the swimming and diving team had plenty of team success. The Razorbacks finished the dual meet season with a 10-1 record, which ties the 2008-09 dual-meet record for the best in school history. This season’s achievements can be contributed in large part to the introduction of Sean Schimmel as the new swimming and diving head coach.
“I know I was really surprised,” White said. “We didn’t really know what to expect with Coach Schimmel coming in. I knew it was going to be different, but I didn’t know it would be this positive of a difference. I really enjoy his coaching style and I know that the team likes him a lot. Just the success we have had has been so exciting.”
For White, one of the biggest changes has been the emphasis on personal fitness and strength. She’s spent more time in the weight room this season than ever.
“I absolutely love it,” White said. “Even now in the middle of February I still look forward to going into the weight room in the morning and I see such a huge difference in my training and how I feel in the water. I feel so much stronger and quicker, like I have better reaction time. I definitely feel smoother and my strokes flow better because I am stronger.”
Her love for fitness didn’t begin at Arkansas. The sophomore draws her passion for weight training from her upbringing, as her father is a chiropractor and her mother is a personal trainer.
“It’s so nice that we all know the same subject and we all talk about it,” she said. “They have been a great help with me as far as studying and learning everything. I just hope I can work as hard as them at their job some day because they are incredibly hard workers, and good role models for me.”
Prior to attending the University of Arkansas she did a little weight training with her mother.
“She helped me with recovery stuff and what to eat after practice,” she said. “She was always there trying to help and do whatever she could.”
One of the main things her mother taught her was the importance of being a well-rounded student-athlete and taking time away from the pool to enjoy other aspects of college life.
“She helped me get more rounded and think of other body aspects instead of just working really hard,” she said. “She helped teach me that you need to eat and you need to sleep and spend some time away from the pool and be healthy, and I’ll always appreciate that.”
With the Southeastern Conference Championships just days away the focus is on swimming and achieving several personal goals. One of White’s biggest goals this season is to make the top-eight in the 200 IM.
“I didn’t make the top-eight last year, and it’s been a really big goal of mine for about a year now,” she said.
White and the rest of the Razorbacks swimming and diving team take to the pool on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. for the start of the five-day SEC Championships.