Senior swimmer ready to lead growing team
The UALR swimming and diving program has been steadily growing over the course of the last half-decade and this year, the program boasts one of the biggest classes ever with 10 freshman being added to the team to give UALR 19 competitors in total.
This growing team is anchored by senior Hope Myers, one of the team’s most astute and studious competitors.
Teammate Meghan Petersen, a junior who competes in the breastroke and the individual medley, said Myers is someone that brings positivity to the team.
“She is always an encouraging, happy person at practice,” Petersen said. “[She] keeps everyone smiling and working hard.”
As a captain of the team, Myers is someone the freshman can look up to.
“She is an amazing captain,” Petersen said. “She’s a good role model and leader for the team as a whole.”
Myers has the stats and the skills to demonstrate why she is one of the captains of this squad. As a freshman, she scored a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 200 and 400-yard individual medley in her first collegiate meet. In the Sun Belt Championships, she earned a lifetime best in the 200 individual medley, clocking in at 2:15.61. Her efforts were noticed by then-Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters, who added Myers to his “Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List,” reserved for student athletes who maintain a GPA of 3.5 or better.
As a sophomore, Myers received her first winner performance, earning first place in the 400 individual medley at the UALR Invitational meet. She also arguably put on one of her best performances of her career during her junior year, swimming a season-best in the 200 individual medley (2:14.89), the 200 free (1:58.64) and the 400 individual medley (4:45.59).
Now, entering her senior season, all eyes are on Myers to lead the team and leave her mark on this growing program.
Myers, who came to UALR with her twin sister and teammate Holly, has been named a captain in her senior year and for good reason. She has 16 years of experience under her belt when it comes to swimming, but her path to a decorated career in swimming almost didn’t happen.
“[Holly and I] started out with gymnastics — and it was before the age of 6, because that’s when we started swimming– but we didn’t like it too much. So, our mom kind of forced us to join swimming.”
Myers quickly developed a proficient set of skills and began competing with a club team in her hometown of Purvis, Miss.
“We took recruit trips my senior year. Holly and I went on some trips to Pennsylvania and [UALR]. We wanted to get out of our hometown and state of Mississippi.”
“The facilities here were really nice and it was closer to home,” Myers said.
Myers said the six-hour drive home was a lot shorter than it would be had they chosen to go to a school in Pennsylvania, which would have totaled about two days worth of driving. Although the proximity to home was an important factor in choosing UALR, head coach Amy Burgess sealed the deal in helping lure Myers to the program. Myers noted that watching Burgess conduct a practice helped her realize she is the right coach and a good influence to help her achieve her goals.
“When I first met her and then talked to her, I thought ‘Wow, she’s a great person and a great coach.’”
Going into her senior season, Myers said she is more excited than ever to compete, due to the increase in number of swimmers on the team.
“I’m really excited going into the meets because now we can compete with some of these other teams we never had a chance to beat before. Even though we had good swimmers, we didn’t have the numbers there.
“One of our team goals is to kind of better our times and win a few more meets that we couldn’t [in previous seasons] because we didn’t have those numbers there, so that’s really exciting.”
Myers is expected to graduate in May and said after that, she hopes to attend graduate school. She’s still deciding if she will remain in Arkansas or return to Mississippi to attend school.
The team will have four home meets this season: Dec. 5-7 (UALR Christmas Invitational), Jan. 18 (Southern Illinois), Jan. 26 (Rice) and Jan. 31 (Vanderbilt).