Boasting a height of 6’7”, Robert Amundson ’22 is a hard figure to miss on campus. The four year varsity swimmer currently captains the team, along with Mark Cai ’22, and his undisputable success in the pool merits him this edition’s honor of being named the Athlete of the Issue.
Hailing from Dublin, NH, Amundson was exposed to swimming from a young age: “[My mom] swam all through high school, so she wanted us [Amundson and his two younger brothers] to try it. At first it wasn’t my favorite, but she just kept having us do it in the summer, and after like three years I just fell in love with it.” Amundson started swimming at age 11, but didn’t swim competitively until age 13.
Now, Amundson is a team veteran whose leadership on the deck is unmissable: he can be seen instructing warmups and cheering on competing teammates at every practice and meet. This leadership has been noted by figures such as Coach Mark Spencer: “Robert cares about what he does but doesn’t need the fanfare to go along with it – he just buckles down and gets to work. He also has the keen understanding that hard work doesn’t stop when a measure of success is achieved. That awareness has led him to honors academically and in his swimming experiences.”
Meets are Amundson’s favorite parts of the swimming season since, as he puts it, “practices kind of suck—I think everyone can agree on that—and just having a chance at a meet to see how much you improved from all that hard work is really rewarding.” Amundson attributed Coaches Patricia Batchelor and Mark Spencer as integral components to his success in the pool, remarking, “They both supported me in my training, and they’re the two people who kind of made me switch over from “sprinting” (short distance races) to more mid-distance, which is what I was good at and I didn’t know it, but they knew it, so I’d say they’ve been the most influential in my swimming career.”
Amundson chiefly competes in the 200 meter Freestyle and the 500 meter Freestyle, but also enjoys swimming backstrokes and relay races. Recently, he committed to swim at Bates College. When asked about what drew him to Bates, he shared, “I liked the idea of something in the Northeast, and then maybe a little bit smaller, so the NESCAC schools kind of fit into that bracket. Visiting all these schools, Bates is the one that gave me the best vibe and the one where I connected with the people on the team the best.” Marred by the presence of COVID, Amundson’s recruitment wasn’t an easy process: “[COVID] had a pretty big impact on all of [the recruitment process]. When I was getting recruited to all these schools it was based on everything I did sophomore year, and I had nothing to show for the past two years. With the way the window works, by the end of this season, with my swim times this year it will already be too late to be recruited. So yeah, that was pretty frustrating, because going to Deerfield I couldn’t get in any meets last year.”
Besides swimming, Amundson was a member of Varsity Football’s 2019 and 2021 Mike Silipo Bowl winning teams. Additionally, he plays JV Lacrosse in the Spring, is a proctor on Doubleday III, and expresses his love for the River by helping to lead the popular tradition “Shriv at the Riv.” Co-proctor Connor Olson ’22 spoke of Amundson’s second-to-none “buy in” attitude: “Robert is always down to hike to the Rock, run to the Greer, or DJ in the common room; he continues to show our hall and everyone at the school how Deerfield can be such a fun and spirited place.” His impact on the next generation of Deerfield students is a positive one as shared by Nick Gold ’25 who said, “Although he might get angry sometimes when I don’t brush my teeth on time or when I’m blasting music, he will always be a person I look up to.”