Elizabeth Auckley

Sport: Women’s swimming

Age: 21

Year: Senior

Hometown: Bay Village, Ohio

Majors: Chemistry, History of Art

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Question: We’ve had a run of foreign agents here at Meet a Buckeye in recent weeks, which is great. Are you really from Bay Village, a born-and-bred Cleveland-area girl?

Answer: That’s mostly true. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where my parents moved during my dad’s medical residency. But we moved to Bay Village in 1998 and have been there ever since. I definitely consider myself a Clevelander.

Q: Here’s a test of your roots: Are you still upset about the Indians’ playoff loss to the Yankees?

A: It’s never easy to watch the Indians lose. I grew up going to a lot of Indians games with my family and love to see them play. My parents had season tickets this year, so they were especially upset. But we’re all looking forward to next season.

Q: Those are two fairly discrete subjects you’re studying, history of art and chemistry.

A: It’s true. Heading into college, I knew I wanted a chemistry degree, and it made sense with my career goals. But after the first semester, I missed humanities and arts so I added history of art. I’ve found a lot of overlap in the skills both subjects use and have loved the intellectual balance the double major has given me.

Q: What intrigues you about art history?

A: The way I see it, to understand art in its historical and cultural context you have to understand what a society values and how they express value. My concentration is in modern and contemporary art because I think it’s an interesting way to analyze the implications of current events. It’s also a fun way to relax and get a break from science.

Q: And chemistry? Is your goal to be a doctor?

A: I like chemistry because it’s so fundamental and can explain so many complex systems. Ultimately, I want to be a doctor, but I know there will be countless ways to utilize my background in chemistry in the medical field. At OSU, I was fortunate to work on a chemistry research project, studying iron-sulfur cluster proteins, that has implications for Alzheimer’s disease.

Q: In what ways do you mesh those two areas of study?

A: Both fields require a lot of detailed analysis, which is great because I love being analytical and detail-oriented. The two subjects really balance each other well.

Q: What's your ultimate career goal?

A: Being a medical doctor is what I’ve dreamed of as long as I can remember. I am in the process of applying to medical schools now and am excited to work with patients and see the impact of basic science research.

Q: Here’s another Cleveland question: Do you think the Cavs are better now or when they had Kyrie Irving?

A: Kyrie brought skill to the team, but the Cavs will be all right without him once they rebuild their team chemistry.

Q: When did you first begin swimming?

A: I’ve been swimming since I was a baby but competitively I started on a summer rec team when I was 9. I had a blast and didn’t mind the early mornings, so I joined a club team that fall and have been swimming year-round since.

Q: Is yours a family of swimmers, or are they landlubbers?

A: My dad and his three siblings all swam through high school, and his sister went on to swim at Purdue. Now, one of my cousins swims for Purdue and another swam for four years at Toledo. It has been really cool to race family at dual meets and Big Tens after meeting up at club meets when we were younger.

Q: What do you remember about the first time you won a medal for swimming?

A: I remember winning some ribbons at summer rec meets, but mostly I remember goofing around with teammates. I loved the social aspect of swimming, especially when I was younger!

Q: Backstroke and butterfly are your two main strokes; do you prefer one to the other?

A: Butterfly is my favorite because I can be really aggressive with the stroke and get into the race.

Q: Did the backstroke come naturally to you, or was your success based on hundreds of hours in the water?

A: I was more of a butterflier when I was little and gradually backstroke came into my meet lineups. I think it helped that I relied on my underwater kick in butterfly, since that’s a big advantage in backstroke.

Q: Is it common, when swimming the back, to drift into a competitor’s lane?

A: Not into another lane, but sometimes “ping-ponging” between lane lines in your own lane. I usually do when I’m getting used to an outdoor pool or a pool without good ceiling markers to follow.

Q: So, when swimming the back, you employ a visual guide?

A: Most backstrokers count strokes after the flags. I usually take two strokes then flip over after I see the flags.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the worst stroke in swimming?

A: Breaststroke! I can never get the timing down right. It’s just too complicated.

Q: Swimming is an individual sport that feeds a team result; does that equation work well for you, mentally?

A: I actually see it as the opposite. It can be so hard to train individually that I can’t imagine practicing without keeping pace next to teammates and cheering each other on. I think meets are more individual — you have to get on the blocks and race by yourself, and that is where you can show off all the technical work you’ve put in. But of course, your race contributes to the team score and teammates are cheering the whole way. I love how much the team atmosphere is emphasized in college swimming; it makes the sport so enjoyable.

Q: Your last Cleveland sports question: Are the Browns best forgotten for a few years, act like they’ve moved or something?

A: I can’t say I’m a die-hard Browns fans. I really only follow Buckeye football.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much have you enjoyed your college experience?

A: Can I go above 10? Ohio State has given me more than I could have imagined. Swimming here has been a dream come true and I am so grateful for all the friendships I’ve made. I’m excited for medical school, but it will be hard to say goodbye at graduation.

Q: And, lastly, “Carmen Ohio:” Have you heard it enough, or does it still give you goosebumps?

A: Oh, goosebumps every time. It’s crazy to be part of a tradition that is so strong. I always look forward to singing “Carmen” at the end of a meet!

rstein@dispatch.com

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