While sophomore Chiara Robinson doesn’t always have 14 hours to swim home, she’ll surely take any and all opportunities to swim laps at the ARC. Robinson, originally from Colorado, describes herself as someone who's always been a water baby.
“I just always loved to play in the water and then somehow I ended up joining a local summertime league in my neighborhood,” Chiara said. “My mom said when I wanted to learn how to get faster, I would google YouTube videos of Olympic swimmers and watch them swim and then all of a sudden I was making faster cuts in the summer league.”
Eventually, this lead her into swimming for a club swim and then high school swimming. The overall family environment throughout her years of swimming is what led her to stick with the sport, leading into collegiate swimming.
“We’ll go to church together, we’ll go get ice cream; it’s just all the little things,” Chiara said.
Chiara’s father, Steve Robinson, feels the swim team has provided his daughter with an instant community as well as providing structure and a good outlet from studying some structure and a good outlet from the studying. While he misses her at home, he understands the bigger picture of her being away at school.
“I think she’s continued her development of being independent,” he said when asked if he’s seen changes in his daughter since joining the swim team. “I think she has really pushed herself outside her comfort zone to be involved and do things she might not have normally done and I think she’s benefited from it.”
Not only has Chiara gotten involved with swimming, but also Fraternity and Sorority Life and WAVES.
“These are all things we didn’t necessarily think about or know about when she went off to Valpo but she’s branched out and found those and I think those are incredible opportunities for any student who goes to Valpo,” Steve said.
As for Chiara, the opportunities and experience make Valpo feel like home, but the program also drew her in. As a civil engineering major, she was drawn to their program.
“I was set on going to a small school in Rhode Island and then I came here for a quick trip and ended up really liking it. They had a better engineering program that was stronger academically, and I wanted to make sure that I put my studies first because that’s ultimately more important and it’s going to get me a little further in life,” Chiara said. “I had a great opportunity to swim and it was a little bonus that it was Division I.”
According to Chiara, the hardest aspect of her her family being 14 hours away is not having them immediately there to comfort you or hangout with, but luckily, she has swimming.
“One of my favorite things my mom said when I got home for the summer was ‘It’s just like you were at a long swim practice.’ Swimming keeps me so busy I hardly ever realize I’m away,” Chiara said.
As for advice for parents whose children are far from home this academic school year, Steve suggest parents reach out to their children as often as they can and encourage them, but realize that this is an incredible time for them.
“Take advantage of this unique time in your life because you have the ability to,” Steve said.