HIgh school swimming: Borendame navigating ocean of options

2012-10-05T00:00:00Z 2012-10-05T14:25:28Z HIgh school swimming: Borendame navigating ocean of optionsAlex Williams Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 05, 2012 12:00 am  • 

It didn't take long for Ironwood Ridge swim coach Anne Fitzsimmons to get a read on standout swimmer Sara Borendame.

In fact, it happened before Fitzsimmons ever spent a second with Borendame near a pool. Let Fitzsimmons tell the story from Borendame's junior year:

"I had her first period. It's like 7 a.m., and she qualifies for the Olympic trials then comes to class like 30 seconds or a minute late," said Fitzsimmons, who's in her first year coaching the Nighthawks. "I'd seen on Twitter that she qualified, so I made her classmates clap for her when she walked in.

"She comes in, she thought I was making the kids be sarcastic because she's tardy. It didn't even occur to her that someone at school would know (she qualified). It was a really sweet moment. I knew what kind of kid she was right there."

Borendame, who qualified for the trials in the 100-meter breast stroke in March and won a state championship in the 100-yard breast stroke as a junior, is one of the most sought-after swimming recruits in the country.

She's visited Arizona, Iowa and Nebraska in the past three weekends, and has visits to Vanderbilt and UNLV lined up.

"I don't really have a favorite at this point," Borendame said. "There's things I like about each school and things I'm not sure about."

Here's a look at how Borendame's recruiting process has played out so far:

The letters

Borendame estimates she received more than 30 letters from schools, most of which included a questionnaire and both academic and athletic information.

The best part: She said a few schools sent a list of their swimmers' times from the season - something that helped Borendame get an idea of what each program was all about and where in the lineup she might fit in.

The worst part: It turned into information overload. Borendame said that all of the information got a little overwhelming at first, but she learned to distinguish between what she cared about and what wasn't important.

She said it: "Some of them gave me an idea of, 'Oh, this is somewhere I can go and push myself and get better' instead of a team where I fit right in the middle and might even be pushing some people right away."

The big meet

Borendame said the biggest meet of her career came in August, when she traveled to Indianapolis for the Summer Junior Nationals with her club team, Ford Aquatics.

Why it mattered: The meet features a smattering of coaches from around the country, and it gives swimmers a chance to meet coaches in person and get more specific info about the programs.

How it played out: Borendame narrowed down the schools she wanted to visit, and because the coaches were there, she was able to arrange everything at once.

She said it: "That's where my recruiting became a big deal and I started making decisions. It's just the biggest opportunity to get to talk to the coaches right as they're setting up trips and everything."

The visits

Because Borendame's high school season is in the fall, she had to go through her schedule and find the few open weekends when she could take visits.

The best part: Getting to know potential teammates. Borendame said Saturdays are typically spent hanging out with team members and going to a football game if there is one - giving her a chance to see how if she feels at home.

The worst part: The meetings. Fridays are spent going through meetings with academic advisers, coaches and athletic directors. While those play critical roles in the decision process, Borendame said they get tedious at times.

She said it: "It's kind of scary but exciting at the same time. I've accepted that I'm going to make that choice pretty soon."

If you go

• What: Ford Aquatics High School Classic

• Who: More than 30 teams from across the state

• When: Saturday, first event at 10 a.m.

• Where: Hillenbrand Aquatic Center

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