Player Profile: Elaine Burns: Women's swimming and diving captain tells about being a leader and remaining optimistic

Posted by Andrew Shi

A leader in and out of the pool, Elaine Burns '12 is not only co-captain of the women's swimming and diving team but a three year Thoroughbred Society member, a Liberty League All-Academic Team member and a business major. Although Burns concedes that her team's "scoreboard is negative," with an overall record of 2-6­,  she is optimistic about her team's future performances as they rigorously practice.  She believes that she is constantly improving her game, and has been since she first jumped into the pool at her local YMCA in her hometown of Worcester, Mass.

"I started swimming when I was 7," Burns recalled. "I started lessons and moved on from there at the local Y. Once at a certain level I moved up and started competing at more serious levels. I did high school and club swimming and eventually was recruited by Skidmore." Burns swam for  the varsity level for four years at Doherty Memorial High school, and every year qualified for the prestigious  Massachusetts state meet. She graduated from Doherty Memorial in 2008 as the recipient of the Coach's Award and as class salutatorian.

Burns says that when she first started swimming for Skidmore, the swim program had a lot of potential but the swimmers were not competing at their  maximum capabilities. "The bar kept on being raised as the program progressed to the highest level," Burns said. As expectations rose for the swimmers, the team was pushed harder, and Burns said "I always seemed to be getting better."

Burns attributes part of her growth as a swimmer to her resolute and persistent personality which has led to thousands of hours of swimming practice over the years. "I'm a pretty dedicated swimmer. I don't give up" Burns said. "In meets I'm consistent and with distance races I'm good with split times, not being all over the board." Her consistency is the product of a fine tuned adherence to style and form. " I beat myself up over the little details," Burns said. Her attention to detail, although considered by Burns as an annoyance, is just another characteristic that has made her into a successful swimmer and captain of the swim team.

"As a leader I have to keep people happy and motivated, and if not it all spirals down," Burns noted. Happiness, meanwhile, is an inconsistency as teammates have started doubles practices since a less-than-impressive performance in Puerto Rico over the winter break. "But, individually, people are doing well time-wise, and our times are improving," Burns added.

"In perspective, it's all about the big meet, and our scoreboard doesn't reflect how we will perform in that," Burns said.  The big meet referred to is the Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association (UNYSCSA) championship, scheduled for the end of February. Burns says the team has now turned up the heat and players, besides for engaging in double sessions, are focusing more time on their specialty. "We are preparing hard, and getting ready," said Burns, whose own specialty is free style and the fly.

Before the championships though is Saturday's women's invitational, which serves as a precursor to the championships as well as a potential projection of Skidmore's results. "I believe we have a very good chance of winning it," said Burns about the invitational. " We are prepared." The invitational includes  four teams including Skidmore:  SUNY Cobleskill, Vassar, and William Smith. The invitational is at 1 p.m., Saturday Feb. 4, at the Williamson Sports and Recreation Center.  

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