LEWISTON, MAINE – Ask Gabrielle Sergi about what she’s going to do after graduation and the question is almost overwhelming for her. A little frightening even for a swimmer who has dedicated her entire life to swimming over the past few years.
A senior swimmer at Bates College, Sergi recently earned New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Conference honors for the fourth time in her career (she thought it was her first). It is the culmination of years of sacrifice, travel and more sacrifice.
She was also named to the NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team with a 3.61 grade point average in psychology. She earned a 4.0 last fall.
“Elle has been one of those athletes who defines what it means to be a student-athlete at the Division III level,” said Peter Casares, head coach of the Bates swimming and diving team. “It was never a zero sum game for her. She was always going to get great grades and swim fast. It was never one or the other.”
That’s not the half of it.
It was only within the past few years that Newburyport High School merged with Triton to offer an interscholastic swimming program. That was never an option for Sergi, who graduated from Newburyport in 2010 and chose to attend Bates.
Instead, Sergi swam for the Solo Aquatics, a year-round competitive swimming factory in Haverhill that manufactures collegiate swimmers like an automobile plant. Competing for Solo was more than an after-school activity. It is also a before-school activity.
In her early teens, with a love for swimming, Sergi decided to forgo all things school-related (except for studying) to devote herself to Solo. Not only did she make the commitment, so did her parents, Michael and Stephanie.
For more than four years, Sergi, along with Mom or Dad, awoke at 4:30 a.m. to make it to Haverhill for the Solo morning practice. Afterward, it was off to Newburyport for classes, then back to Solo for the afternoon session, which lasted between 2-3 hours.