Dream Big: Overcoming Adversity
In life, we all have to overcome obstacles. No two people know that better than Tracy Duchac and Christine Leupold. Both student-athletes are members of the Purdue women's swimming and diving squad and have each faced adversity and come out on top.
Tracy also knows what it's like to face challenges, though for her, it wasn't in the pool. Her challenge was in the classroom. She was in third grade when it was identified that she had a learning disability. She admits that her first year was overwhelming as she made the transition from high school to college. Consequently, her grades weren't where she wanted them to be.
"I think it's difficult for a lot of people to take that first step and ask for help, but once I jumped that hurdle and started using the resources available to me, things improved," she said.
When asked to consider her greatest accomplishment, she responded without hesitation - Academic All-America - as she was named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Academic All-American and Academic All-Big Ten in 2003-04.
"It felt great to be rewarded for my efforts in the classroom and not just for what I accomplish in the pool," she added.
As seniors, Tracy and Christine see their roles on the team as being fairly straight forward. Both want to lead through their actions. It's a "no frills" type attitude. According to Tracy, it's all about just getting in the pool and getting the job done. And that's exactly what they've done.
In the latest College Quick 50 (1/19/05) sheet provided by Taper & Shave, both Christine and Tracy are tied for 18th place with Arizona's Marshi Smith in the 50 free (23.11), while Christine also makes the list in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events. Additionally, Christine and Tracy are members of the 200-yard freestyle relay team that currently boasts the third fastest time in the nation at 1:31.85.
Looking ahead to the Big Ten Championships, both student-athletes mentioned the goals the team established for itself at the start of the season.
"This year should be a great opportunity for us and we hope everything can come together," Tracy said. "The Big Ten is a strong Conference and we're looking to place third or fourth at the Championships."
Christine added that she feels the depth of the team should help. And looking ahead to the NCAA meet hosted by Purdue, she believes that the relay teams in particular can make a statement about the Boilermakers swimming and diving program.
"It's going to be so exciting having the NCAAs in West Lafayette as we'll be able to represent our pool and the tradition of Purdue swimming and diving."
While she agrees that it's great to be hosting NCAAs, Tracy also pointed out that it's going to be an adjustment for those who have qualified in the past.
"You get used to traveling to meets like that," she said. "So while it's definitely a plus knowing the starting blocks and atmosphere, we're still going to have to make the mental transition to using our own pool."