Ready, Set, Swim!
October 29, 2010;
by Stephanie Cook '12
Did you know there is a paralympian within Catawba College's student body?
The fact that Ashley Owens is a Lady Indian or student athlete on the swim team makes the student population even more different and interesting.
Ashley, a sophomore psychology major from Stockbridge, Ga., has been competing in the Paralympic Games since she first made the team at age 13. She began swimming competitively at the age of eight, and has been hooked ever since. She is a competitor in the Paralympics due to a Cerebral Palsy condition on the left side of her body that causes a coordination disorder.
However, her small physical disadvantage does not slow her down whatsoever, and her best race in a Paralympic event proves it.
While competing in Beijing at the 2008 Paralympic Games, she swam the 100 free at a very quick pace, clocking in at 1:01:57. Pretty impressive, huh? When asked how she liked representing Team USA, Ashley said, "I think by itself making Team USA is an accomplishment because it is so difficult to make. You have to be Top 3 in the world to make the team. I love being a part of it and wouldn't trade it for the world. I started in 2003 when I made the team at age 13. I love traveling; it has really made an impact on my life. I have met a lot of amazing people through it."
When asked why she chose to come to Catawba to study and compete on the swim team, Ashley answered, "I came to Catawba because I love the small school experience and the small community around it. I think Coach [Betsy] Graham is an amazing coach and an amazing person and I really like what she has done with the swim program. I think she is going to make it go a lot further and I want to be a part of that."
She noted that her favorite part of the swim team at Catawba is competing with teammates on the relays in meets.
"When one person succeeds, I feel like everyone does because we train with each other twice a day, five times a week and see each other so often that we are like family."
After she earns her undergraduate degree and uses her four years of swimming eligibility, Ashley plans to pursue her master's degree in special education. She admits she has not picked a school yet, but isn't worried about it. She claims she has time to figure that out. As far as swimming after Catawba, Owens states she definitely wants to continue practicing her passion, but maybe not work at the sport as intensely as she is now.
Owen's goals for this season include making an "A" cut for NCAA Nationals and representing Catawba in the event. "I don't think any females (from Catawba) have done, that so I'd really like to do that." She also said she wants to perform well so she will be ready to go to London for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
When asked what a lot of people don't know about her, Ashley quickly answered that she is an avid reader. She noted her favorite author is James Patterson, but she said she is open to reading anything and everything.
She also admitted to getting really nervous before races, but has her iPod on high and headphones in each ear blasting music to help calm her nerves before each individual contest. She has developed a good frame of mind going into each race. "Even if I don't win (the individual race), I can't be upset because I know I have tried my best going into it. Whatever happens happens."