By David Capobianco
For sophomore sociology major Karis Fuller, swimming is just one of the many things she can do. She earned a black-belt in karate at the age of 8. She can play four instruments: the violin, viola, guitar, and piano. As a child, she danced and played soccer. Once she could even recite pi to about the first 60 decimal places. Growing up in London, England, Fuller was encouraged to try different activities. “I was pushed into a lot of things as a child,” Fuller said. “[My parents] didn’t want me to be confined to one thing. They allowed me to find what I wanted to do.” But it wasn’t until she was nine years old that she found swimming. “It just kind of stuck,” she said. Fuller joined a swimming club at the suggestion of a teacher, and took a liking to it. Within a few years, she found herself in the British nationals.
Swimming has now become ingrained in her life. “It’s been part of my life for about 10 years, half my life now,” Fuller said. “So I kind of put a little bit of who I am into swimming.” She decided to come the United States for college because, in England, she would have had to pick either swimming or going to school. “They don’t really mesh the two together very well,” she said. So she came across the pond to pursue her passion while earning a degree.
And all of her hard work was rewarded this year when Fuller, along with three of her Pioneer teammates, qualified for the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships, which took place from March 8 to March 11 in Birmingham, Ala. Fuller made it to the finals in both the 200-yard backstroke and the 100-yard backstroke, and finished 10th overall and second in the consolation final in both events.
“It was an amazing experience to be there,” she said. “I wasn’t prepared for how nervous I’d be. My teammates were the ones who calmed my nerves and kept me in check, so I owe quite a lot of it to them.”
Qualifying for the nationals this year came as redemption for Fuller, who narrowly missed the nationals last year. “I finished something like 20th, and they took 19. That’s what pushed me even more this year,” she said. Instead of taking a month off in the summer like she had done the year prior, this year she swam the whole summer without taking a break. “I came in fitter this year,” she said.
Going into next year, Fuller says she knows what she must do make it back to nationals and get even better. She plans to spend a lot of time in the gym during the off season to get stronger and more agile. “I’ve seen the times that win nationals and I don’t necessarily think I can’t do them,” she said.
Although college swimming season is over, Fuller won’t be taking a break from the pool. She is also part of another swimming club in England, and she wants to qualify for the British nationals, which take place in July. “I find out then where I sit among my own nationality,” she explained. “And among people up and down the country, which is good to know.”