Five questions with women's swimmer Abigail Taylor-Roth

Five questions with sophomore women's swimmer Abigail Taylor-Roth (Juneau, Alaska)

1. What made you decide to come to Colby all the way from Juneau, Alaska?

I wanted to go to a small liberal arts school, and there are so many more in the East than on the West coast. Also, my mom grew up in the East, so we have family in Massachusetts, Maine, and New York and we always came out here for family reunions in the summer. I wanted to experience life here, (it always seemed so cool to me that you can drive everywhere, as there are no roads going out of Juneau) and college seemed like the perfect time for that. I ended up looking mainly at NESCAC schools, and simply liked the swim team and environment here the best when I visited.

2. We had the Potdevin sisters–Weather ’07 and Kelsey '09–also come from Juneau. Is there a good youth swimming program in that area?

I actually met with one of the Potdevin sisters before I made my final decision to come to Colby, but had never heard of them before that. They went to my high school and swam for the same high school coach as I did. There is a large club in Juneau, Glacier Swim Club, which certainly gets a lot of kids into competitive swimming. Athletics in Alaska are difficult in general just because of the high cost to travel around the state. Many people get into swimming because it is inside and a good way to be active year-round. 

3. You are a math major and have a minor in women’s gender and sexuality studies. You are tied for the highest grade point average of any student-athlete at Colby. How have you been able to balance academics and athletics?

I have been getting more and more interested in WGSS, and so I plan to double major in that and math, with a minor in either computer science or chemistry. However, I am easily excited by most classes that I take, and so my major plans change frequently. I think that a lot of my success academically is simply because I enjoy learning, and so I find my work interesting. Beyond that, I spend most of my time studying in the library, which enables me to finish all of the work I have. It is certainly difficult at times to balance swimming and academics, specifically in the fall. It is hard to finish everything on time while still getting enough sleep to be able to swim well. Coach (Tom) Burton is always understanding of conflicts, though, like when swimmers have tests scheduled during practice time. In many ways, swimming gives me an outlet to relieve academic stress, while school can take my mind off of swimming (especially now, right before NESCACs).

4. Swimming is an individual sport except for relays and yet I'm not sure any teams (and fans) are louder than you encounter at swim meets. What is it like to be part of that community of swimmers?

Every swim team that I have ever been on, and especially this one, is incredibly close-knit and supportive. While swimming is technically an individual sport, we all push each other and build off of our teammates' successes. One of my favorite parts of swim meets is cheering, both as a team before the meet and for individual races throughout. Even though it is usually impossible to hear anything while swimming, it is really powerful to see your entire team at the end of a lane. I have one experience that I feel perfectly sums up how our team supports each other. Before NESCACs every year, we all say our goals and then memorize everyone else's goals as well. At NESCACs last year, I was swimming in the slowest heat of finals in the 100 breaststroke, and I think I got last in that heat. When I finished, however, my entire team was cheering louder than everyone else because I had achieved my goal and they knew that. It means a lot to know that we always have an entire team to support us in whatever we do.

Our team, both men and women, have certainly gone through some rough patches this year but if anything it has brought us closer together. Our senior women are great role models for all of us, and I genuinely look up to each and every one of them. They inspire me every day in a variety of ways, from in the pool to their commitment to activism and social justice to their inclusive nature on the team to their competitive drive

5. You are in your sophomore year, so you still have time. However, do you have plans for your next step after Colby?

I really don't know what I want to do after Colby. Currently, I am interested in combining my passions for WGSS and the STEM fields by trying to get more women to continue studying STEM areas.