Only five meets in, freshman breaststroker Cecilia Porter has proven to be a strong talent for the women’s swimming and diving team.
She placed first three times in the 200-yard breast, the 200-yard medley and the 100-yard breast.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Porter won the SEC Freshman of the Week honor Jan. 26 for the second time this season after winning in November.
This year has been a challenge but its all been attested to how incredible it is to be on this campus. It’s starting to pay off in the pool and I’m proud of that.
Porter found out about the win over Twitter. Her phone kept buzzing with notifications and she noticed the win shortly after logging on. Porter saw it as motivation to push through the rest of the season.
In her limited time at UF, Porter also broke an all-time school record. She set a time of 59.33 seconds in the 100-yard breast at the Auburn Invitational in November. It was only her second meet as a Gator.
Her teammates and coaches are extremely supportive through it all.
“Cecilia has had a tremendous first year thus far,” head coach Jeff Poppell said. “We are very excited to see what she has in store for us at the SEC and the NCAA Championships.”
The season has its challenges for Porter, however.
With COVID-19 hindering socialization, team bonding has been difficult outside the pool. The team has learned to acclimate to the social restrictions. They see one another only during practice and meets and take advantage of the time they have together.
To Porter, it’s a blessing and a curse.
“COVID has really helped us get together and realize that in the hardest times we can still be as close as possible,” Porter said. The team bonds through practices and training sessions.
Balancing a Division I swim lifestyle with rigorous academia overwhelms Porter. She practices twice a day, three times a week with her swim team and also has solo practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She, however, doesn’t regret anything about this season. She noticed her hard work pay off in the pool and proudly said she’s proud “to do things the Gator way.”
Porter’s postseason goals are to win the SEC Championship with her team and succeed at the tentative NCAA Championship in March. She will then practice for the Olympic Trials in June. While she doesn’t expect to get much out of the trials, she said she wants to have fun competing.
Next season, Porter wishes to improve her strokes and leave an impact on the team. She wants to improve her time for the 100-yard and 200-yard breast.
Porter tries to avoid stress in the pool. At meets, she doesn’t put pressure on herself because her performance would suffer. She remains calm and reminds herself that swimming is her passion.
But she doesn’t plan on swimming forever though.
After college, Porter hopes to become a travel nurse. She studies health science on the pre-med track.
It was a large part of her decision to come to UF. The university offers great academic and social opportunities aside from swimming, Porter said. After visiting UF, she wanted to call the swim coaches every night, anticipating to attend in the fall.
She’s drowning her competition, and it’s safe to say she actualized her dream to swim for the Gators.
Contact Faith Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her Twitter @_faithbuckley
Faith Buckley is a first-year journalism student at UF and The Alligator's swimming and diving beat writer. She is specializing in sports media to one day hopefully work as an NHL commentator.