March 4, 2009
By Amanda GonzalesNotre Dame Sports Information
If you have been following the Notre Dame women’s swimming team, even if only for a short while, then the name Samantha Maxwell is not unfamiliar to you. This outstanding sophomore has already planted her name in Fighting Irish history after breaking her own records in the 100 and 200 breast with times of 1:01:57 and 2:12:46 respectively, thus qualifying her for two NCAA B-cuts. Additionally, Maxwell garnered prestigious awards this season including two BIG EAST Conference Athlete of the Week selections, as well as being named the Division I Women’s National Collegiate Swimmer of the Week by CollegeSwimming.com.
As if these recent accomplishments are not enough, in January, Maxwell set three pool records at Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium in the 100 and 200 breast as well as the 200 medley. Head coach Brian Barnes characterizes Maxwell like any other great athlete in that, “she gets results not just because she has talent, but because she works hard.”
In practice, the coaches continually give her various goals to aspire to, whether it be swimming against another teammate or racing against the clock, to not only challenge her, but keep her motivated. Judging from her track record, these practices propel the tenacious athlete to achieve her well-deserved success. Furthermore what sets Maxwell apart from many other accomplished athletes is her selfless attitude both in and out of the pool.
While Samantha’s recent triumphs have given her more media exposure, she still remains humble in not only her success, but also her commitment in excelling as a team player. Regardless of how well she’s swimming in the pool, her primary focus always reverts back to her team mentality, as she defines her goal “to go as fast as I can at every meet and bring in a win so we can get points.”
This type of team-first attitude is especially prevalent when Maxwell swims the 200 medley. For her, if she does not swim well in the relay, she realizes “I’m not just letting myself down, but I’m letting down the people that I swim with and the rest of the people on the team that are counting on me.”
This passion Maxwell has for putting forth her best effort for the betterment of the team comes as no surprise to assistant coach Joel White. He notices how much the team feeds off of her ambition.
“When you’re on a relay with Sam, you know that Sam will carry her weight and you know that you have to carry yours because she wants to win,” White said.
Whether or not Maxwell considers herself a leader, she surely has the characteristics of one. She guides the team by example, maintaining high standards for herself as well as inspiring her teammates to raise the bar to work harder and race faster. Although swimming is not always typically considered a team sport, for Maxwell, much of her motivation stems from the camaraderie she shares with her teammates where she feels a sense of solidarity “by knowing that we all go through the same struggles in training and have to overcome the same challenges together.” Just as the team counts on her to always put fort
h her best effort, Maxwell, too, relies on her teammates for their encouragement and desire to succeed. Her accomplishments in the pool are nothing short of amazing, but what is also admirable about this young athlete, is what motivates her to do well in her races. She focuses much of her energy on doing well for the team.
“Sam cares just as much about her teammate’s performance as she does about her own,” White said.
This unselfish attitude of Maxwell has certainly aided in her success in the pool and has helped mold her into a laudable leader.