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Profiles of coaches and student athletes

Student-Athlete Profile: Milana Socha '14

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Why did you decide to come to Carleton?

The college choice was difficult for me; I waited up until the last possible second to make my decision.  I wanted academics and sports to play large roles in my life and Carleton was going to be able to allow me to focus on both areas.  Every Carleton student, alum, or faculty member I met seemed to really love the college in a way that stood out to me from other places.  Also, Andy, the head swim coach, ended up being one of the coaches I liked the most out of all the places I was looking at, DI schools to other DIII schools. The way the team members and coaches interacted while I was visiting really made me feel like the sense of community at Carleton was something unlike that of any other school.

What have been some of the differences between college and high school sports?

College athletics have allowed me to really become a 'student' of my sport. Things like technique, training methods, nutrition, and race structure are emphasized much more by the coaches.  The training is certainly difficult but I feel like it is much smarter and of significantly higher quality than high school.  The training is more individually focused and to do well requires much more of your time than high school sports.  The bond created on teams at Carleton is also incomparable to high school team dynamics.  Your team, along with the coaches, become a part of your college family.  This lends itself to high energy meets with a tight knit network of people supporting you and cheering you on every step of the season.

What are you most looking forward to next season?

I am most looking forward to seeing how I react to a new training regime this season.  I recently made a decision to focus my college athletics solely on swimming by choosing to not participate in cross country or track any longer.  I am very excited to experience a full swimming season with my team and coaches.  I am looking forward to the swim season as a chance to train at a level I have not been able to train at in the past and, with the guidance of my coaches and support from my team mates, reach new racing speeds.  My favorite part of the season is the MIAC meet, when all of the training finally comes together in the form of fantastic races across the team.

How do you balance academics, sports, and other activities?

Carleton students tend to do a little bit of everything.  In order to do all of these things, you just need to make sure you stay on top of school work and communicate with your professors and coaches whenever you start to run into stressful situations, they are there to help you!  Because Carleton students tend to be involved in quite an eclectic variety of things, the environment on campus helps you to get a balance of activities in your life.  I honestly think that being in season is when I am the best at managing all of the things i need to do because my sport keeps me on top of what I am doing.  There is plenty of time to take advantage of all of the different types of activities and events the campus has to offer even if you are involved in a varsity sport as long as you prioritize and make sure to utilize your free time productively.

What is a regular day like for you during your season?

During the season an average day involves waking up early at about 6am for morning practice which is either in the pool or in the weight room depending on the day.  Then there is time for a quick breakfast before I get busy either going to class, lab, my campus job, meets with professors, or group project working sessions.  Every year except Freshman year I have lived in Fitness House which allows me to be off the meal plan so I usually pack a lunch and eat it at my convenience. Once classes are over, it is time to head back to the pool for afternoon practice which keeps me occupied for about 2.5 to 3 hours depending on how slowly I am moving in the locker room after practice!  Then I either go to Burton dining hall to eat dinner with the team or go back to my house for dinner, we are on a cooking rotation so I don't have to make dinner every night which saves me a lot of time.  After dinner it is time to get studying.  Depending on what type of work I have, I will either go study in the Geology Department or else find a room someplace in an academic building.  I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but it usually ends up being more like 6 hours due to homework and getting distracted by/taking study breaks with friends. The more focused I am, the earlier I can head off to sleep to do it all over again!

What are some of your team's traditions?

There are a number of traditions I really enjoy. At our dual meet with St.Thomas the host team presents a cream cheese trophy to the visiting team.  Every year our team takes a training trip during winter break to someplace tropical, which is great.  We have captains' practices early in the fall that involve a bunch of fun team activities.  In the winter the women's team puts on a talent show which is usually really amusing. The team also puts on the Hour of Power to help spread awareness of and support the Ted Mullin Fund for Sarcoma Research. This tradition is especially important and participating in an event of its magnitude is truly a special experience.

What are some of your favorite moments from being on the women's swimming and diving team at Carleton?

The team is a huge part of my life here and I wouldn't have it any other way. Some of my favorite moments with the team have occurred during MIAC, our conference meet.  I have been fortunate enough to be on relays with wonderful inspiring women and racing with them at MIAC has always been fun.  The moments leading up to the start of these relays have always been special and standing up on the podium afterwards together, arm in arm, is a good feeling.

What is your favorite thing about Carleton?

My favorite thing about Carleton is that it quickly became a place that I call my home.  It is not just my college or place of residence, it is truly my home- a place that I know I will always remain connected with and belong to.  This is largely due to the community on campus.  The atmosphere created by the students is fantastic and I could not picture myself being a part of any other college community. 

What would you say to a high school student-athlete considering Carleton?

At Carleton academics come first and coaches/teammates are very supportive in this area.  However, this does not mean you can't excel in athletics.  The quality of the coaching staff and talent of some of the athletes is easily comparable to D1 programs, except that you will probably receive more personal attention here than in a D1 program.  Overall Carleton does the balancing act between excelling in athletics in addition to academics quite well.   

Is there anything else you think a prospective student-athlete should know about Carleton and women's swimming and diving?

The swim team is not only a team to me.  The team is very much my family and I know I have made friends who will be with me for the rest of my life.  I am convinced that the swim coaches at Carleton are some of the best coaches an athlete could ever hope to work with; they have supported me through various types of low points, helped me improve as a swimmer, and I owe a lot of who I am not only as an athlete but as a young woman today to their positive influence on my life.  The best advice I could ever give a prospective student-athlete is to go to a college that you think you could one day call home and to find a team that you could one day call your 'extended family.'