Parent Magazine

10 Questions with Steph Nasson

By Rachel Johnson (MET’11)

Between a grueling practice schedule and studying health sciences at BU’s Sargent College, it’s a wonder that Stephanie (Steph) Nasson (SAR’16) has time to sleep.

All that practice paid off in March 2014, however, when Nasson became BU’s first female swimmer in 26 years to be invited to the NCAA Championships—breaking both her school records for the 1,650- and 500-yard freestyle while there. The New England native spoke to Parent about BU’s swim spirit and why her heart belongs to Boston.

Steph Nasson (SAR’16) stands between Head Coach Bill Smyth and Assistant Coach Jen Strasburger at the NCAA Championships in March 2014. Photo courtesy of Steph Nasson


1. You were BU’s first female swimmer at the NCAA Championships since 1988. How did that feel?

It was the best weekend of my life. I’ve been to a lot of big meets, but this one was special. Everybody was so excited. There were some really fast swimmers there, and it was great to see everyone come together and battle it out for their own schools.

2. What is most challenging about being a collegiate athlete?

Time management. I’ve had a pretty intensive practice schedule since I was younger, so that kind of got me ready. But there’s really nothing like a college workload, and all the different things I have to do besides school and athletics.

3. Do you have a favorite swim event?

The 1,650-yard is my best event, so when I finish that and do well, it’s special. But it’s also the longest and the hardest, in my opinion. The 500 is a lot of fun to swim. I pay a lot of attention to it, but it’s still a little bit less pressure than the mile. The mile is worth it in the end, but it’s very daunting too.

4. How do you train for swimming a mile?

Just a lot of yards and pacework and practice. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, it’s twice a day, with about one hour 20 minutes of swim and an hour of lifting in the morning and then two hours of swim in the afternoon. On Tuesday and Thursday, it’s just two-and-a-half hours of swim in the afternoon. And then Saturdays are just swimming as well. Most of us have been swimming like this forever, so it doesn’t really seem like a lot, and we do enjoy it. It’s definitely a love/hate feeling when my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m., but it’s more love in the end.

Steph Nasson competes at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Photo courtesy of Steph Nasson

5. How is competing at a collegiate level different from your previous teams?

College is much more team-oriented. When you’re looking at swimming from the outside, it seems very individual, but in college, every race you do, every point you get is going toward the team. I like that a lot; it makes it a lot more fun to have people relying on you and to have other people to cheer for.

6. What makes BU Swimming stand out from other swim teams?

Our close bond, which I think is unique to this team. It goes beyond just teammates. We’re friends. We practice as one team, guys and girls together, we talk about issues as one team, and we help each other as one team. And we work hard on it too, because every year the team changes a bit. It takes time to incorporate everyone, but we’ll spend weekends together talking about goals, about where we want to go with this season.

7. Other than your team, what’s your favorite thing about BU?

I love being in Boston. And I know as I’m getting older now and trying to find internships and figure out my next step, Boston is the place to be for almost whatever I want to do. When I was looking at schools, I pictured the big grassy campus—but between athletics and academics and just hanging out, there’s always something to do here. I’m never bored. The more time I spend here, the more I realize that I don’t really want to go anywhere else.

8. Do you have a favorite BU class?

I’m getting EMT-certified right now. It takes up a lot of time and I have to pass the test, and it’s not even one of the required classes for my major (although it counts toward it), but for me, it’s the first time class has been real hands-on. I want to be a physician’s assistant eventually, and this is the first time I’ve learned directly about things that would impact a patient. So that’s been really amazing.

9. If you could give your freshman self any advice, what would it be?

To stress less and spread out my work a little bit more. In high school, it was pretty easy for me to study on Wednesday night for a Thursday test—but in college, that catches up to you. It takes away your sleep and it damages your grades as well. I thought I had pretty good study habits coming in, but college courses are just so different than high school courses.

10. What advice would you give to freshmen athletes?

Enjoy where you are and take advantage of the opportunities you have, even if it means you’re going to have to do a little more work later on. I’m a sophomore, so I still have some time, but it’s flying by. It’s easy to get lost in all the work you have to do, between practices and classes and whatever other activities you have to do. So enjoy it. It goes by really fast.

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