A ninth-grader who placed fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke event at New England’s with a time of 1:08, one second away from the school record, Claire Collins ’15 is one of the brightest stars in girls’ athletics.
This spring, Collins has added to her impressive athletic record as a first-year rower. Collins pulls times on an ergometer that not only break the records, but also match times of women in the best Division I programs.
Her caliber of athleticism is difficult to put into perspective.
Collins’ 7:06 two-kilometer test on an ergometer is so impressive that the USRowing U18 Junior National Team’s Head Coach Liz Trond contacted Collins to invite her to row with the junior national team this summer.
When asked about her reaction to Trond’s invitation, Collins explained, “I am excited rather than stressed about this opportunity.”
English teacher Louise Kinder, the new girls’ varsity crew coach, believes that Collins has both the mental and physical strength of a future Olympic rower. “It is just a matter of time,” said Ms. Kinder. “Crew is a sport that requires patience and attention to technique.”
Ms. Kinder, who graduated from Deerfield in the class of 2005, rowed for the University of California at Berkeley and has a national championship under her belt. After talking about her coaching experience at the collegiate level, Ms. Kinder said that she frequently has to remind herself that the erg times produced by college athletes equal the times produced by Collins, a freshman in high school.
A six-year swimmer, Collins brought her talents to the girls’ team and contributed to the team’s 2nd place finish at New England’s. Sonja O’Donnell, the girls’ varsity swim coach, believes that in addition to her developments in technique, Collins’ greatest improvement in the past season was her mental strength. Mrs. O’Donnell, who is also coaches novice girls’ rowing, believes in the importance of psychological toughness required in athletics. In her opinion, mental preparation is as important as any other aspect of performance.
“During my last season before coming to Deerfield, I had a tough time dealing with the mental aspect of swimming.” Collins admitted. “Mrs. O’Donnell taught me to focus and relax, which is a huge component of rowing as well.”
When asked about the future, Collins stated her deep desire to compete at the Division I level. “Going D1 is definitely a long-term goal of mine, but at this point, it will not likely be for swimming,” she said with a laugh.