The All-American junior swimmer has been a strong contributor for the Irish on the relays and is a school record-holder in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay. At the 2020 Easterns, she placed fifth in the 500 free (5:00.85), sixth in the 200 IM (2:08.03) and was part of Notre Dame’s second-place quartet in the 400 free relay (3:28.12) and the Irish’s 10th-place foursome in the 200 free relay. Stuart also swims for the Suburban Seahawks, and competed in the 2020 Winter 18 & Under Championships, where she placed fifth in the 1650 and 12th in the 500 free and 400 IM. Her 400 IM time (4:27.44) and 1650 time (17:11.06) qualified her for the NCSA National Swimming Championships
Q: What do you think has been the biggest key to your success in the free relays?
A: The free relays are just so much fun for all of us at Easterns, and I think that is just really important to our success. At Easterns specifically, the environment is just so exciting and encouraging, and everyone gets up and cheers for the team. For me, having everyone there, wanting the whole team to do well, really helps.
Q: What is your favorite memory of the 2020 postseason?
A: My favorite memory of that meet would have to be swimming the 500 free at finals on the second day. The 500 free is one of my favorite events, and I was really nervous but just really excited to try to do well.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of weekday training, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: On Thursdays and Fridays I have morning practice from either 5:30 or 6 a.m. until 7:30, then school starts at 8:15 and goes until 2:50 p.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I have practice from 3:45-5:15 p.m., and on Tuesdays and Thursdays its 8-9:30 p.m. Practices used to be two hours and 15 minutes, but COVID regulations shortened them. Finally, I do homework and dryland whenever I have time in between school and swimming.
Q: What was your most memorable experience at the 2020 Winter 18 & Under Championships?
A: That was such a fun meet, and it was great to get back into the racing environment with my Suburban Swim Club teammates. My favorite race there was definitely the 1650. I was a little nervous because it’s a longer event and COVID has cut our training short, but I felt really good during it. I had also been trying for the NCSA cut for a while, so it was great to touch the wall and see that I made it.
Q: Who have been your most influential swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each of them?
A: I am currently swimming for Coach Charlie Kennedy at Suburban Swim Club, and he has really taught me how to love the sport. At Academy of Notre Dame, head coach Brigit Barry is really great at bringing the whole team together to have fun and swim fast. Finally, Coach Andrew is an assistant coach at SSC and Notre Dame and he has helped me to believe in myself and make the most of my training.
Q: What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?
A: My favorite swimming venue is Franklin and Marshall College where Easterns is held. I have also been there for our senior championships with Suburban Swim Club. Especially at Easterns, it’s just such a pumped up environment and everyone is just so excited to swim for Notre Dame, especially on the relays, and that makes it a great bonding experience for everyone on the team.
Q: What is your favorite academic course at the Academy of Notre Dame? What do you think you’d like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My favorite classes are AP Latin and AP Bio because they’re the most interesting and challenging. Later in school, I would like to participate in a pre-med program and work in the medical field.
Fun Facts – Natalie Stuart
Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy or Criminal Minds.
Favorite movie: Gladiator.
Favorite athlete: Katie Ledecky.
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.
Favorite place to visit: Sicily, Italy.
Favorite pre-meet meal: Acai bowl from Playa.
Person I most admire, and why: “My role models are the seniors on the Academy of Notre Dame team. Seeing their commitment to the sport year after year really makes me want to try harder.”
Family members: parents Mark and Jackie, dog Princess.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)
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