Freshman swimmer making waves

Devin Boatwright, Staff Reporter

Susan LaGrand, a freshman on the women’s swim team, has already made a name for herself and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

She was recently named the United Shore Student Athlete of the Month after her performance in the Horizon League Championship. She feels honored to have received such recognition and grateful that the school recognizes individual accomplishments.

“It’s honestly such a great feeling,” LaGrand said. “We work so hard all year and my team pushes me so hard to be great. I come from a place where sports weren’t valued all too much so coming to a large university where they can still recognize individual accomplishments is amazing. Being able to look into all the different sports and pick the outstanding individuals and reward them makes me really proud to be at Oakland.”

LaGrand got her start in swimming when she was only eight years old. When she started, she admits she wasn’t the best, or anywhere near it. However, when high school came, she became engulfed with the sport and knew that she would take it further than high school level competition.

“Most people start when they are younger, around four to six, so I technically came a little late,” LaGrand said. “I wasn’t very good, well I was okay, just there trying to learn at first. We then started to move to teams that were a lot harder than the last and so on. When I hit high school my freshman year, I won the state meet in the 100-butterfly and from there my coaches knew they could push me harder. I enjoyed everything they threw at me and I wanted it to be more challenging the further I got. So, by the time college was around the corner I already knew that I wanted to keep going.”

LaGrand took home five individual championships in the championship meet including the 200-backstroke where she recorded a time of 1:56:74, which is now the second quickest time in Oakland University history. She was selfless saying that her efforts were for the team and giving her all for them was the sole reason as to why she able to perform so well.

“For this one it was just for the team,” she said. “You give it everything you got and the last little bit of that race you just dig deep and muster up the will to finish. When I hit the last wall, I felt good about it, but I didn’t realize it was that good, so I was in complete shock. I honestly thought the board glitched and maybe I didn’t go that fast. I was off 2 seconds in the morning when we practiced so it wasn’t even in my mind that I was going to get the record. Going from that to seeing 1:56 was just unbelievable.”

Before the swim meets, LaGrand listens to some slow music to keep herself calm and ready to go.

“I perform way better when I’m calm,” LaGrand said. “Most people put their headphones in and listen to some hardcore, upbeat music. I like to feel calm almost as if I’m in practice. When people ask me what’s a song that gets me pumped, it a song called ‘Sunshine,’ which is not like a Mo Bamba or anything. I do that because if I get too into it, I’m known to go out there start too fast and end up tanking at the end, so I just keep calm and stay focused for when it’s time to go.”

You can catch LaGrand and the rest of the Oakland University swim team at the CSCAA National Invitation in Cleveland, OH March 14-16.