Making waves at Olympics

Making waves at the Olympics

Wheaton swim coach Nicole CarterNicole Carter ’02, who is a Wheaton assistant coach, also trains Algonquin Regional High swimmer Dorian McMenemy. Their hard work got the swimmer to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where McMenemy competed in the 100-meter butterfly. The 15-year-old represented the Dominican Republic, swam her personal best, was second in her heat, and rode with Michael Phelps—all with Carter cheering her on. We asked the coach about the experience:

Supporting role: I am the head coach at Evolution Aquatics, a swimming program based in Westboro, Mass. Dorian trains with me year-round with our club team. As the head coach, my role is to make sure every athlete gets the training and support they need to succeed. I must create an environment in which athletes are motivated to achieve their goals and constantly evolve in the sport of swimming and in academics.

Different swimmer, same drill: Coaching an Olympic contender is no different from coaching any other dedicated swimmer. I want every athlete I work with to take the most out of every experience they have—whether it’s at a big meet at Wheaton or in the Olympic stadium.

Going for gold: I believe any opportunity you have to meet the leaders in your field is something that should be taken advantage of. I was very excited to step out into the biggest sporting event in the world, surrounded by people with far more prestige and experience than I have, and introduce myself. It was a great learning opportunity. Wheaton gave me that confidence to put myself out there. I recall several opportunities in class or in sports where it would have been easier to sit back and not speak up. However, professors and coaches always motivated me to have the confidence to gain knowledge and experience from every situation.

Wheaton swim coach Nicole CarterMaking waves: I was a psychology major at Wheaton with a focus in abnormal psychology and special education. My education led me to a wonderful career in special education both in the classroom and, in sports. I have been a Special Olympics volunteer and coach since 1998. Through the connections I made in youth sports, I was able to develop programs that led me to my current position. I love the psychology of sports and the power of confidence to create positive results.

Being there: The experience was exactly what I knew it would be, a blur of excitement and joy. I was there for five days. We spent lots of time in the Olympic village, which was surreal. The world’s best athletes strolled around like they were at home. I did my best not to be starstruck when Usain Bolt and Missy Franklin walked by in the café. I was overwhelmed knowing what it took for each athlete to get there, and I was so proud of everyone.

Photos by Keith Nordstrom