Catching Up With UVA Swimmer Courtney Bartholomew
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Catching Up With UVA Swimmer Courtney Bartholomew

You may see her in the Olympics soon.

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Catching Up With UVA Swimmer Courtney Bartholomew

Courtney Bartholomew has been a kind and considerate — yet fiercely intelligent — presence in my Media Studies seminar this past semester. Heads turned in her direction any time she added to the conversation while quickly trying to eat dinner in class, her hair still damp from swim practice. Her laughter lit up pre-class hallway conversations as we complained about papers that were too long and readings that were too dense.  

The other day, I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed when I saw that someone had posted an article from the Holland Sentinel to Courtney’s wall entitled, “Courtney Bartholomew Swims 2nd fastest 100-yard Backstroke Ever.”

I’m sorry…EXCUSE ME??       

The former swimmer in me exploded with excitement as I dug deeper and discovered Courtney’s unbelievable triumphs at the Georgia Invitational that took place December 5th through December 7th. Over the course of two days, Courtney cranked out an impressive 50.39 victory in the 100-yard backstroke, shattered both the UVA and the ACC records for the 200-yard backstroke, and swam a 1:55:27 200 IM after setting a new UVA record in the prelims. 

She also swam on two winning Medley relays, one of which missed the American record by just a few tenths of a second. Courtney opened one of these relays with a 50.01 100-yard backstroke split: the closest any female swimmer has gotten to decorated Olympian Natalie Coughlin’s 12-year-old record. Our very own Wahoo is four hundredths of a second away from breaking a national record that hasn’t been touched in over a decade. AKA… We have an absolute superstar in our midst.   

Courtney started swimming when she was five years old. She recalls the coaches begging her parents to put her on the team because she was the only kid at lessons that could swim the entire length of the pool. Courtney was the perfect little swimmer to complete a 6 and under relay for the team.  

From here, my friends, the rest is history. Courtney is a key player on UVA’s team and as seen by the results of the Invitational, won’t stop her quest to cut time any day soon. 

When asked about her favorite part of being on the UVA team, Courtney replies with warm words about the swimmers’ family-like dynamic. “My teammates are not just my friends,” she explains, “they are my sisters and brothers. I know that if I ever needed anything, they all would drop whatever they were doing to help me out or support me.” In true Wahoo fashion, it is obvious that the swimmers have each other’s backs through every practice and race — and have fun doing it. “There is never a dull moment,” Courtney says. “Seriously, if you need a good laugh, it is not hard to find one!”   

When asked about her mind-boggling success at the meet, Courtney responds graciously. She remembers feeling shocked at the 50.01 that beamed from the scoreboard. “Just knowing that the time is the second fastest ever in history blows my mind,” she says.  

Courtney then refers to her rigorous schedule of training, lifting and spinning, and admits, “The coaching staff and I had prepared enough for that moment that I expected to see a time similar to that.” Coughlin’s American record has been on backstrokers’ radars for 12 long years, and there is no doubt that Courtney now fits into the category of contenders.    

It is early in the swim season, and Courtney certainly has the time to focus on this goal as the NCAAs approach in March. Courtney is optimistic about upcoming races, saying that she is “the opposite of being fearful of going faster at NCAAs.” She says that in watching film from the races with Augie Busch, UVA’s head swim coach, they both noticed technique improvements and tweaks to focus on in practice. 

To know that she was able to go those times and still has room for improvement, she says, is just really exciting. If you ask me…getting an A on a paper is exciting, not over-drawing your checking account at the grocery store is exciting, and having time for an extra cup of coffee in the morning is exciting. Amidst the hype and buzz of the most success Courtney has experienced in her swimming career up to this point, she remains humble and grateful for the recognition she has received.     

At the end of our interview, without being able to stop myself, I ask if I will be able to say that I’m friends with an Olympian come 2016. She confirms that she will be trying out for the Olympic Team in 2016. She continues with a smile, “It would be a huge honor to represent Team USA in Rio, but we will see if that is in the cards.”

Toward the beginning of our interview when asked about Natalie Coughlin’s record, Courtney revealed that she had a Natalie Coughlin poster on her wall when she was little. It’s my guess that it won’t be very long before little swimmers have Courtney Bartholomew posters on their walls. 

Be sure to come out to UVA swimming’s home meets this year to watch Courtney Bartholomew do her thing. You might just be watching America’s future best backstroker in action.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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