1-on-1 with Mary Van Metre ‘14
By Maddie Garcia, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, January 28, 2013
Over dinner this week I learned more about my freshman roommate and Big Green swimmer Mary Van Metre ’14.
Do you remember when you learned to swim and what it was like?
MVM: I’ve basically been swimming ever since I came out of the womb. My dad was a big swimmer so my parents got me in the water early. It feels like I’ve been swimming my whole life.
When did your swimming career become competitive?
MVM: I started swimming competitively in seventh grade, and since then it has slowly begun to consume every aspect of my life.
What was the transition like from high school and club swimming to college competition?
MVM: High school club swimming was much more about the individual, whereas college swimming is much more about the team. I would sacrifice my personal gains for the team’s success here. The biggest difference is that the team at Dartmouth is my family since we spend so much time together.
What races do you typically swim for Dartmouth?
MVM: I am a sprinter so I swim the 50-yard, 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle. This year I started swimming breaststroke also.
What is your favorite and least favorite practice set?
MVM: My favorite practice was the hot tub set. We did three minutes in the hot tub and then a 25-yard sprint five times through. Sadly we only did it once during taper my freshman year. My least favorite set is definitely King of the Hill. It is a test set where you sprint 20 “100s” as fast as you can. By the end I am just thankful to be alive!
What is your best swimming memory in or out of the pool?
MVM: My best memories have been watching my teammates swim out of their minds at big meets and just being so happy screaming and cheering for them. In high school, one of my relay teams got the state record and that was one of the best days of my life. I also really like upsets — when you are the underdog and just destroy the competition. The surprises are the best part. Oh, and I love team dinners.
What is the hardest part about competitive swimming?
MVM: The hardest part is definitely morning practice, everything about it — the fact that it is 6 a.m., and you are jumping in a cold pool and it’s winter. Also, the time commitment and the number of double practices are tough. Every week we almost reach the max of 20 hours a week of practice time. Other annoyances are that your hair is always wet, it’s hard to stay awake in class, you can’t stop talking about swimming and because it consumes you, it is hard to maintain relationships outside of the team when we are in season.
What are some things about swimming you think most people don’t know?
MVM: The most frustrating part is that people brush swimming off as not being a significant team sport, when really the success of the team depends on every individual and all of us have a role. Even if you aren’t scoring the most points, your role is extremely important. People are always surprised to hear how much we swim a day, up to 10,000 yards — which is over 5.5 miles. People also don’t realize the time commitment and that we can’t take days off and need to have doubles at least three days a week to stay in shape.
What are some “only a swimmer understands” moments?
MVM: Swimmers don’t think it’s weird to walk around in just a bathing suit and we don’t think twice about boys in Speedos. We also constantly smell like chlorine no matter how many times we shower. After morning practice I have been so hungry I have cried but also could fall asleep on command. I’ve also memorized the bottom of the pool! We also always all say that we hate swimming so much and that it is the worst thing ever, but obviously there is something keeping us in the sport. For me, it is the team, but I know that when I retire I will miss the sport too.
What is your biggest goal for the rest of this season?
MVM: I really, really, really want the team to do well at Ivies. The team’s success is the number one goal, and I would be happy with anything I can do to contribute to that success.