This year in February, before the men’s and women’s swimming teams competed in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championships, coach Barrett Roberts ’07 gathered the group for a pre-meet pep talk. He highlighted some of the great moments from past championships, as well as talked about various swimmers who had surpassed expectations.
“This year, I spoke about John Kuckens ’06, Zachariah Hicks ’07, John Ahern ’10 and Christian Woods ’12,” said Roberts, a former member of the Wheaton swim team. Next year a name that surely will be added to that list is Caroline Isaacs ’13.
Isaacs, the women’s swimming team co-captain, graduated in May as the program’s most successful distance swimmer, according to Roberts, with records in the 500-yard, 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard freestyles as well as the 400-yard individual medley. She also was a two-time NEWMAC Academic All-Conference Award winner; the recipient of a 2013 Banning-Ford Prize in Education; and she achieved the highest grade point average on the team for the fall semester, which secured the Lyons a spot on this year’s College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Team Scholar All-America list.
“She will definitely be remembered as a major contributor to our program and an example to follow for years to come,” said Roberts. “When she first joined the team, she wasn’t considered a potential record holder, but Caroline improved dramatically since her freshman year. She willed herself to an elite level of competition and earned every bit of her success.”
Isaacs also found inspiration in her Wheaton team, which she notes focuses on teamwork instead of individual performances.
“The swim team became a second family,” she said. “I loved how both the men’s and women’s teams were always spending time together and appreciated how every member, no matter their speed, had a role to play in making the team better.”
Isaacs made an immediate impact during her first season as she broke a five-year-old program mark at the conference championship meet in the 400-yard individual medley, with a time of 4:47:15. She improved her speed during the next three seasons, shattering additional records along the way.
“After swimming the best times of my life and breaking my events’ records, I felt as though the work had paid off, and it made me dedicated to improving,” she said.
While she worked hard to personally improve in each event, she also cheered on her teammates, which led them to elect her co-captain this past season. Isaacs, who is a resident advisor, was also a member of the Wheaton Athletic Mentors and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
“Caroline is a leader and someone who is very amiable,” noted co-captain Dana Auger ’13. “She is a dedicated worker in and out of the pool, and that quality reflects upon the rest of the team and helps others want to succeed, too.”
Isaacs has been equally skilled at pursuing and combining all of her academic interests. She majored in studio art and chose minors in early childhood education and psychology, all of which perfectly prepared her for her role as a student teacher for kindergarten and first grade students in a North Attleboro school this year. Her outstanding work there earned her an education department award, which was presented at the Honors Convocation.
She will be teaching second grade at Mary of Nazareth Catholic School in Darnestown, Md., this fall, and plans to pursue a master’s degree in special education in a few years.
“I enjoy teaching because of the interaction with my students,” she said. “I have only been in the classroom for a short time, but I get a thrill from watching a student understand a difficult concept or become increasingly excited about the subject matter.”
Photos by Keith Nordstrom