Hawkeye swimmer pulls from Olympic experience


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Sophomore swimmer Heather Arseth has started off this season well, and much of that can be attributed to the experience she gained from training for the 2012 London Olympics.

Arseth, a Plymouth, Minn., resident, has traveled back and forth to her mother’s native country of Mauritius — an island located 250 miles east of Madagascar — since she was child. The trips were meant for her to learn about her mother’s country and culture. The problem, however, was that she needed to swim to stay in shape. And that’s what put her on the path to London.

“I spent three months there during the summer after my sophomore year in high school, and my mom found me a team to train with,” Arseth said. “I swam in a meet there at the end of that summer and the minister of Sports was there. He saw me swim and asked to meet with me< and that’s how it all began.”

The chance meeting with a high-ranking official paved the way for her to swim in London, but it was far from the only undertaking to get there.

“It all happened out of the blue,” Arseth said. “Obviously, the Olympics weren’t the first step, it was just representing Mauritius. One of the main reasons I wanted to do it was my grandfather, who competed for Mauritius as a bodybuilder in the [also international] Commonwealth Games.”

Before she could reach London, Arseth had to compete in the World Aquatic Championships, which were held in Shanghai. There she had to compete in a swim off that would determine who would represent Mauritius in the Olympics. Swimming the 200-meter freestyle isn’t one of Arseth’s specialties, but she was victorious and secured her spot on Mauritius’ two-person Olympic roster.

Although Arseth didn’t place in her event when reaching the games, what she left London with will prove to be more valuable for her future as a Hawkeye.

“More than anything, with going to an event like [the Olympics] is the experience and confidence you gain from being around all those great athletes,” head coach Marc Long said.

Fellow swimmer Lindsay Seemann can attest to experience being the biggest benefit from competing internationally. Seemann, a transfer from Arizona, competed for Canada in the 2008 Olympics when she was just 15 years old.

“To make the team at 15 was a special experience,” the native of Newmarket, Ontario, said. “[After Beijing], I competed and placed at the 2010 Pan-Pacific Championships in Irvine, and I think Beijing really prepared me for that. And now I pull from those experiences every day in the pool.”

So far this season, Arseth has experienced some personal best times while also contributing to various relays, such as the 200-medley, in which she helped record the fourth fastest time in Iowa history at the Hawkeye Invitational this past weekend.

Arseth also recorded a top-10 finish in the 50yard freestyle at the invitational, in which she swam a personal best of 23.41 in her preliminary heat.

The experience she’s garnered has paid off thus far in the pool. But it’s also helped further shape her views on swimming as a whole and what it takes to be a hard worker at any level.

“There are people there with talent, but everyone there works hard,” Arseth said. “The Olympics is a cool way to see that whether I’m training in Mauritius or in the U.S., there are people on the other side of the globe working just as hard.”

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