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Ohio State’s Michelle Williams surges in and out of pool

Photo courtesy of the Ohio State Athletic Department

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Being an athlete and a student can sometimes be a daunting task at Ohio State. For sophomore swimmer Michelle Williams, the concept isn’t quite as difficult. In fact, Williams makes it looks easy.

During the 2010 season, Williams was one of few student-athletes at OSU to record a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Williams, whose main events for OSU are the women’s 50 and 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly, along with some of the relay teams, said she is able to succeed because swimming helps her manage her time.

She said academics are her priority, followed closely by swimming and family.

“Swimming helps me to be a better student,” she said.

The classroom isn’t the only place where Williams has found success. The Toronto, Ontario-native will be competing in the Canadian Olympic trials this March. It will be the second time she has competed in the trials. The first time around, she knew that she was fighting an uphill battle and didn’t end up qualifying.

“I have a better shot (this time),” she said.

Williams said she wants to go further than making the Canadian Olympic team.

“Many people make it to the Olympics and then don’t know what to do,” she said. “The next step is to perform.”

Williams’ swimming career began when she was 8 years old. Her parents signed her up for a learn-to-swim program and her swimming blossomed from there.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to go to the Olympics,” she said.

And she isn’t the only member of her family to find success in athletics. Her sister is also a gymnast at the University of California, Berkeley and her brother was always involved in high school sports.

“My family is pretty athletic,” she said.

When the trials come around, she will be trying out for the 4×100 freestyle relay team along with the 100 butterfly, and 50 and 200 freestyle events.

Coach Bill Dorenkott said he has been emailing the Canadian Olympic team coaches trying to make them more aware of Williams.

“She’s flying under the radar,” Dorenkott said.

Dorenkott said he is confident she will make the team.

“She has a great shot,” Dorenkott said. “Myself, her parents and her club coach might be the only ones that know that.”

It might be hard for a prospective Olympic athlete to stay motivated, but not for Williams. She looks to her competition to stay motivated.

“My rivals in the same events as me are always big influences,” she said.

Her teammates and coaches, at home and at OSU, are also big influences, she said.

“She’s very humble and hardworking, sometimes to a fault,” Dorenkott said. “I love coaching her.”

Williams’ teammate, junior Jackie Brousseau, said Williams is “a hard worker and someone who is easy to talk to.”

“She always looks to her teammates first,” Brousseau said. “She’s definitely a team player.”

Brousseau said Williams’ best attribute is her ability to cheer up her teammates.

“We’re up at 5 a.m. every day and sometimes we’re grumpy,” Brousseau said. “She always knows what to say and reminds me of my goals.”

With the Olympic trials more than a month away, Williams said her focus right now is on the Big Ten championships that will take place mid-February in Iowa City, Iowa.

“The team is really excited and really prepared,” she said.

The women’s swimming and diving team continues its season at 5 p.m. Friday when they travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans.

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