Throughout this semester, the Bowdoin Orient Sports Section will highlight outstanding individual performances by Bowdoin athletes every week. All athletes are eligible to receive this distinction, and the Orient aims to include athletes from as many teams as possible by the end of the year.
This week’s Polar Bear of the Week is Emilie Grand’Pierre ’23 of the Bowdoin Women’s Swim and Dive team. Grand’Pierre delivered a strong performance at the Bowdoin-Colby meet this past Friday, where she won both the women’s 100 and 200-meter breaststroke races.
Grand’Pierre attributes her success to the hard work she put in with her team over Winter Break.
The swim and dive team dove right into training when they arrived on December 29 after a shortened Winter Break.
“I just feel really good in the water right now,” Grand’Pierre said. “I really attribute it to [Coach] Brad [Burnham] and training over J-break. [It was] really fun to be together as a team and focus on swimming.”
Grand’Pierre’s times—1:07.45 in the 100m breaststroke and 2:29.31 for the 200m breaststroke—have provided her with an uptick in confidence going into the NESCAC Championship in nine days.
However, this is not the first time she has experienced a high-pressure environment. Grand’Pierre represented Haiti on the international stage during the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“Being at the Olympics taught me how what you do in the water isn’t the entire experience,” Grand’Pierre said. “Swimming can be such an individual sport, but going to the Olympics and cheering with all the other small countries and delegations there made me realize that it’s also such a team sport.”
Another one of the lessons that Grand’Pierre learned in Tokyo was to embrace the joy in her sport. This season, she has worked to have more fun and take herself less seriously.
“Everybody is cheering and happy and having a good time,” Grand’Pierre said. “It’s really hard to remember to have fun while you’re swimming because you can easily get in your [own] head.”
As for the remainder of the season, Grand’Pierre has a number of goals both at the individual and team level.
“I am shooting for the school record in the 50 [meter] breaststroke,” Grand’Pierre said. “I am [also] excited to see how well our team does in general because I think we are going to have a lot of fast swimmers, and I think we have the potential to go to nationals,” she said.
Grand’Pierre and the rest of the Bowdoin Swim Team will compete at the NESCAC Championships in Waterville starting on February 10.
“I am excited to be a cheerleader for the rest of the team but also put out some fast swims myself,” Grand’Pierre said.