The difference between a good athlete and a great one is often the athlete's belief that they can always perform better. The individual believes he or she is good, but there is a confidence that burns inside of them that says they can be even better. In certain individuals, this confidence spreads outside of whatever they happen to excel at and gives them the courage to live their lives in contentment, but not complacent.
Case Western Reserve University swimmer Lauren Preyss appears to be one of those individuals.
After Preyss won her sixth state title for Chagrin Falls High School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, she decided to continue her swimming career at the University of Arizona. She had ventured out west to visit Arizona and loved everything about it. She loved the team, the coaches, the school's academic programs and she really loved the weather. Consequently, she figured she would love going to school there. After a year she still loved everything about the team, coaches and the academic programs—and she still really loved the weather. But she just missed her family.
"I come from a really big family," Preyss said. "I am one of five. I had never been away from them for this long, and I just wanted to be closer. I was happy at Arizona. I just thought I would be even happier close to home."
Preyss then made a tough decision. She decided she would transfer back east to Penn State University in State College, Pa. When she arrived there, she found she loved the team, the coaches, the academic programs and being closer to her family. Preyss didn't love the weather as much, but everything else was great.
In the next two years she dominated in the pool. She earned All-American honors in the 400-yard medley relay and helped Penn State win the Big Ten Championship in 2005. It was a great experience, she said, but soon she began to feel like she was spending her whole life in the pool.
"I love swimming, I really do and I want to be the best," said Preyss. "But I've never had the opportunity to do an internship or work a normal job. I've been a lifeguard since I was sixteen and I just wanted more time and experiences to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life after I am done swimming. I really think I would like to work for a company like Nike or Adidas, but I don't know. I haven't had the time to find out."
Preyss once again made a tough decision. She decided to transfer to Case Western Reserve University were she could continue to swim at a high level, but she would also have more time to concentrate on exploring other interests. Now that she is here, she says she loves the team, the coaches and the educational opportunities. She still isn't too crazy about the weather, but she grew up here, so she knew what she was getting into.
And, as usual, Preyss is still dominating in the pool.
Preyss has broken records in three separate pools—Carnegie Mellon, Wooster and Kenyon College. She has set four team records in the 50- (24.24), 100- (52.05) and 200-yard freestyle (1:51.63), and the 200-yard individual medley (2:11.41). Preyss also has three provisional marks (50 free, 100 free, 500 free-5:04.36) and one automatic qualifying (200 free) time for the NCAA championship and is currently ranked in the top 10 in the nation in all four events.
Preyss has legitimate national title aspirations, this collegiate season and perhaps even Olympic aspirations in 2008.
When Preyss was asked about the Olympics she said, "That was one of the reasons I picked Case. The coaches here are excellent and since the training is a little less demanding, they can really help me concentrate on my technique. I would really like to make a run at it, but who knows? Two years is a long way off and it's hard to know where life might take you."
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