Paige Carter leads the Wolf Pack to the forefront
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Freshman swimmer Paige Carter is making waves for the team this season. After one semester at college, Carter is already settling into her role on the team and in the classroom.
“I knew it was going to be extremely hard. I knew it was going to be a big change for me coming from high school,” Carter said.
The change was difficult for Carter at first. The rigorous training schedule in addition to academics and the overall stress of the transition took a toll, but she quickly adapted.
“Having two practices a day definitely was one of my biggest struggles. I was constantly tired in class, but now that its towards the end of the season, I’ve adjusted and overcome that struggle,” Carter said.
A few weeks ago, Carter was named to the Second-Team All Mid-South Conference after placing second in the 500 freestyle and posting a career-best time of 5:10.45 at the conference championship.
In the five meets she competed in this season, Carter posted eight victories and finished in the top three in 12 out of 15 races.
She points to head coach Thomas Natal as a driving force in her success this season.
“He’s always on me, but it’s in a good way. I always want to be at practice, I’m never not motivated because he motivates me a lot,” Carter said.
Carter has stayed motivated in the water with help from her coach, but it is her overall attitude toward that has surprised Natal.
“Paige has impressed me the most just with her attitude, not only in the pool but in life in general. She’s very positive, a very pleasant person, and she’s always got a smile on her face. I don’t know if she’s a morning person, but when we walk in at 5:30 or 5:45 in the morning, she’s always got a smile on her face and ready to go with the day, so I think just her attitude towards life, in the pool, in school and in general, is what has impressed me the most,” Natal said.
Carter has also set academic and athletic goals for her time here
“Once I declare my major, I really want to focus on it and get into it deeply so later on after school I’ll know what to do in the real world. Right now, before I go to nationals, I’m seeded sixth place in the NAIA, so once I swim at nationals, I really want to make the top three and medal at nationals all four years,” Carter said.
For Carter, swimming wasn’t always her strong suit. In fact, in her youth, she was actually scared
“When I was little, I was terrified of water, terrified. This is probably up to age six or seven. Anytime there was a pool party I would not go. I always had a fear of drowning and I just hated water. Then one day at tennis practice, I was watching a swimmer, and I said ‘Mom, I want to try swimming now,’” Carter said.
In her free time, Carter does a lot of traveling throughout the Caribbean.
“We explore a different island each year, so one of my goals for my whole lifetime is to visit as many islands as possible. My whole family is big snorkelers, we love to snorkel and explore the ocean,” Carter said.
In Carter’s most recent event at the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics Swimming National Championship from March 1-4, she finished as one Loyola’s top swimmers, helping the Wolf Pack finish 14th out of the 23-team field.
Carter recorded an individual time of 1:56.31 in the 200 freestyle to secure an 11th place finish in the finals.
She also contributed to the 400 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay quartets that finished in 11th and 13th place respectively.