The Daily Pennsylvanian asked Catherine Buroker of Penn women's swimming 15 questions about her sport, her time at Penn, and her life overall. Here's what the junior had to say.
1. Where are you from?
I’m from Trumbull, Connecticut.
2. How did you get into swimming?
It was after the 2008 Olympics when Michael Phelps won his eight gold medals. My brother and I decided to try out for our swim team in my town, and it kind of went from there.
3. Do you have any history of sports in your family?
My parents are both very athletic, but I’m the first collegiate athlete in the family.
4. How did you end up choosing Penn?
I think it’s a mixture, but everybody says that. It’s a mixture of the academics and athletics. I really connected with my coach, Mike Schnur. I think he’s the best distance coach in the Ivy League personally, and Penn has a great history of distance swimming. It was a no-brainer once I got the offer.
5. What are you studying? How do you like it?
I’m studying political science with a concentration in international relations, and I love it. It’s definitely really relevant right now, which makes it really fun. I like how all the classes connect. I’m also a history minor, so everything blends together. It’s great.
6. What is your favorite stroke/event?
I like the 1,000 the best because it’s not too long. Once you start getting too tired it's over. It’s not an NCAA event, so I guess the mile has to be my favorite technically. The 1,000 is definitely better though because it’s shorter.
7. How has COVID impacted practicing?
It’s been really spotty. I was out of the pool for almost six months, which was really tough. I had to find ways to stay in shape and stay strong. I swam with a club team while I was in Philly, a club team in New Jersey, and now that I’m back home I’m looking again for another club team that is open because of the second or third wave. So, it’s been really tough.
8. What measures has the team done in terms of keeping spirit?
We did a lot of Zoom calls this summer to try to connect the freshmen with the team. That was before we learned that we weren’t going to be on campus. So, it’s been hard to have everyone together. We have team swim houses that became like pods this past semester, so I lived with 11 other girls on the team. It was a really great way to stay in the team mentality.
9. Who do you look forward to competing against?
She’s a a sophomore on Princeton women's swimming. She beat me in my event this year, and her name is Ellie Marquardt. She’s an awesome competitor who definitely has been pushing me, so she’s probably my favorite person to race.
10. Who is your favorite swimmer at Penn of all time?
My coach Mike swam [at Penn] so he’s up there. I also look up to our only NCAA Champion Chris Swanson, who won the mile in 2016, he’s definitely an inspiration.
11. Cold or warm pool?
Cold pool because in a warm pool, you’re sweating and your face gets super-hot. Cold pool is better because you at least can warm up.
12. What's your favorite aquatic animal?
My favorite animal in general is an otter.
13. Who's your favorite pro swimmer?
Michael Phelps was the reason I got into swimming, but now I love watching Katie Ledecky, the best distance swimmer ever. In general, Caeleb Dressel has been killing the game recently, so he’s fun to watch.
14. What music do you listen to?
I listen to pretty much everything. I go through phases, but during quarantine I’ve listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin.
15. Favorite place to study on campus?
Van Pelt, second floor, tucked away in a corner.
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