Q&A with Senior Student-Athlete Stephanie Campbell
The day in the life of Spartan senior women’s swimming student-athlete Stephanie Campbell is anything but ordinary. That is, unless it is considered ordinary to begin the day with four hours of practice at 5:30 a.m. before spending 12 hours working in the Labor and Delivery Unit at one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals.
A native of nearby Highland Heights, Ohio, Stephanie is in her fourth year as a nursing student at Case Western Reserve University. Also a four-year letterwinner for the Spartan swimming & diving team, Stephanie is enjoying her finest season as a collegian.
She recently broke three school records at the 2012 University Athletic Association Championship and hit three NCAA B-Cut qualifying marks in the process. She has been a consistent leader for the Spartans the past several years as an individual medley and backstroke specialist, but as evidence by her times in the pool this winter, she has certainly saved her best for last.
Her three school records at the UAA Championship came on three consecutive days as she broke her own marks in the 200-yard backstroke (2:03.61), 200 individual medley (2:08.55) and 100 backstroke (58.04 seconds).
Those performances in the pool are certainly impressive enough, but they are made even more impressive when considering the overall workload that Stephanie takes on during the year.
In this edition of Spartan Spotlight, Stephanie talks about her daily routine, her plans after graduation, and why she enjoys her time as a swimming student-athlete.
What are your plans following graduation? Are you hoping to stay local or would you like to spread your wings a bit and head elsewhere?
“As of right now, I don't have any specific plans on where I'm going to end up following graduation. It all depends on where I can land a job in Labor and Delivery nursing. Cleveland is a city that I have in mind, as well as Philadelphia, Atlanta and Raleigh. After having a couple years of experience out in the nursing world, I am planning on going back to school to either become a midwife or nurse practitioner.”
Do you plan to continue to specialize in Labor and Delivery? Would you like to be in a hospital setting, a doctor’s office, etc?
“My main focus this semester is on the Labor and Delivery Unit at University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital. My plan is to continue that specialty once I graduate. I really enjoy the hospital setting because the nurses collaborate as one team and are always willing to help each other.”
Head Coach Doug Milliken has mentioned your rotation for nursing school has you delivering babies for countless hours and then making your way over to practice in the pool. Talk about a typical day in your routine and how you balance classes, homework, rotations and being a student-athlete.
“A typical day for me would begin at 5:30 a.m. with dry land workouts or lifting that last until 7:30 a.m. Then, I’ll be in the pool until around 9:30 a.m. before I head off to get as much food as I can. From there, I’m working at the hospital from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. My rotations at the hospital consist of three eight-hour shifts and one 12-hour shift per week. In addition to work, the senior nursing students have class every Wednesday. Over the course of four years, swimming has really taught me how to balance academics with swimming. I’ve learned time management skills that I will also use in my nursing career.”
Who got you interested in the sport of swimming? Your “specialty” strokes are the IM and back. What makes you enjoy those strokes so much and why do you have a passion for them?
“My dad (Frank Campbell) was a swimmer when he was younger, and he gave me the idea when I was eight to start on a summer league to see if it would be something I was interested in. I ended up swimming on that team for nine years and figured out in high school that swimming was going to be a big part of my life. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of my swimming career, and I am very grateful and thankful for everything they have done for me. My specialty strokes have changed over the past year. My focus now is on backstroke and IM -- which is all four strokes. You come to pick your specialty strokes based on your technique and speed. I've swam backstroke since high school and IM is a new strategy that I've been working on.”
Talk about the coaching change in the middle of your career. What positive things that have Coach Milliken and Coach Wylam brought to the pool?
“When I first started swimming at Case, Frank Zatko was my sprint coach -- he was also my coach during middle school. I have Frank to thank for my stroke technique and racing strategies. Going into my junior year, we knew that we would be getting two brand new coaches, but I was very open to the idea of change for the team. Doug (Milliken) is a great head coach who has brought the team closer together as a whole and has a positive mentality for where this team will be heading in the next couple of years. Emily (Wylam) is our strength coach down in the weight room and on the pool deck she is always helpful with stroke technique as well as what you should be thinking about during a race. They fit perfectly together as a pair and Case Western Reserve is lucky to have them both. They have made my senior season very memorable, and I can't thank them enough for all of their hard work and dedication.”
What was the UAA Championship experience like for you and how big of a difference did it make to swim in your home pool?
“I had a lot of emotions this weekend. There was a ton of excitement and quite a bit of sadness knowing that this would be my last competition at Veale. I set out with the goal of hitting some NCAA cuts, and I was able to do that. I felt like it was a nice advantage to be at our home pool, knowing the walls and blocks very well.”
Now that the UAA Championships are completed and you set three school records during the weekend, what else is left for you to accomplish this season?
"Currently, I am in 20th place in Division III for the 200 backstroke, but that doesn't guarantee me a spot to nationals. I am traveling to Chicago this weekend for a "last chance" meet to try and improve my time -- even just three-tenths of a second would help. The NCAA will ultimately make the final selections on March 2nd."
Note: “Spartan Spotlight” is a bi-weekly to monthly series that highlights a Case Western Reserve University student-athlete and his/her exploits on and off the playing field. The series is meant to provide an inside look at the unique backgrounds of Spartan student-athletes and show what it takes to succeed athletically and academically at one of the nation’s premier research institutions.