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While most college students balk at the mere thought of an 8 a.m. class, Kylie Stewart wakes up each morning well before the sun, treks from her dorm room to the UGA athletic complex, and then promptly jumps into a lukewarm pool to swim hundreds of laps.
Stewart’s days are divvied up between being a student and being a swimmer. The Acworth native has long been accustomed to such a routine though, and thus far, she has thrived both in the classroom and in the pool. Comparing high school and college, Stewart says, “Practices [are] more difficult and the school work [is] just more time consuming. Learning to find the balance is crucial.”
As the number one female recruit on CollegeSwimming.com’s ranking of the class of 2014, the Westridge Christian Academy graduate continues her success in the pool at The University of Georgia. In her rookie season, she nabbed SEC Freshman of the Week three times, and she qualified for both the Southeastern Conference Championships and the NCAA Championships. Stewart and her Lady Bulldog teammates secured the SEC title in February and took home second place at the national championships in March. The 18-year-old already holds a top 10 ranking in school history in four separate events, including the second fastest time in the 200 yard backstroke.
Days spent juggling practices, classes, and tutoring sessions have one advantage for a college athlete—they are shared with teammates. Stewart says she is lucky to be a part of such a large support system, both in the pool and the classroom. She says, “My teammates? I consider them to be my family.”
Photos and story by Shanda Crowe