When she was younger, Jillian Carter kicked, swam and splashed in the water for hours. "My neighbors had to pull me out of the pool,'' says Carter, who swims for Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich and the Norwalk-based Zeus club program. "I would hold my breath as long as I could. My parents always called me a little fish."
The little fish is about to enter a big pond. Carter, whose specialty is the 100 butterfly, recently committed to swim next year at Georgetown University. Carter was one of the first recruits for coach Jamie Holder, who took over as Georgetown's head coach in July. "I'm ecstatic,'' said Jillian, who plans to major in political science. "I'm thrilled to get the opportunity to swim at Georgetown. Academically and athletically, it's a perfect fit."
The road to Georgetown's Washington campus traveled through Norwalk and Greenwich for Carter. She has balanced her training with Zeus coach Omar Cruz and CSH coach Maura O'Grady. Unlike Connecticut public schools, where girls teams compete in the fall, CSH competes in the winter. The schedule is particularly stressful in March, when Convent's championship meets come just before the most important club meets for Zeus.
"The training is there,'' Jillian said. "Mostly, it's how I get pumped up mentally. Omar has helped me taper for all the different meets, and we've always been able to work it out so that it helps both teams."
Carter, who started swimming competitively in the fifth grade, is one of three girls from Zeus preparing to swim in college. Rachel Smolensky will head to Southern Connecticut, and Meredith Pramer will swim for Providence. Pramer and Carter will be opponents in Big East competition. "Omar said he'll have make sure he comes to the Big East championships,'' Jillian said.
Carter can now focus on swimming with the pressure of college selection in her rear-view mirror. "Now it's time to swim fast,'' Jillian says. "It's pressure, because I want to perform well. It's a different kind of pressure, though. I can just worry about swimming. That's a huge difference."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.