Stella Langenbach was barely in grade 2 when she developed a passion for swimming and joined the school swim team. Over the years, she became more competitive and in grade 6 joined her current club, Hamilton Aquatics, where she began honing her skills and training more seriously. It clearly paid off. Today the teenager, an aspiring lawyer, has earned a seat at Boston University, thanks to her athletic perfomance.

Excerpts from an interview:

When did you develop a passion for swimming? Who were your mentors?

I developed a passion for swimming at an early age but when I joined Hamilton Aquatics I become aware of my potential and what I could achieve through swimming. My greatest mentors are my parents who were always supportive of me and my swimming, my coaches over the years, and especially my current coach Alex Gray who has shaped me into the swimmer I am today. He taught me to trust the process and myself.

How did you hone your talent?

Through lots and lots of training, and a ton of early morning practices. It took a tremendous amount of commitment, but everything has paid off greatly.

What were the challenges you faced?

Perhaps my biggest challenge was in 2019-20 when my coach and I decided to change my stroke technique to swim with more of a straight arm in my freestyle. It took me around six months to really get the hang of it and go fast again. During this time, I often lost confidence and wanted to give up, but I kept going and once again had trust in the process. At the beginning of grade 11, I struggled to find a balance between school and swimming. I had a lot more work and training had also increased. So I was exhausted all the time. I overcame all of that with better time management: cutting down on my Netflix hours and studying on weekends. I’ve also always been good at getting a lot of work done at school; that helped a lot.

Why Boston University?

I was always planning on applying to BU because I love the city — specifically how it is known as "America’s college town" and for being very international. BU also has amazing academics and great flexibility in choosing between majors as well as internship opportunities.

When I got in touch with the BU swim coach, I immediately felt like BU was the right place for me. I chose to swim at BU because of its amazing team spirit and environment, which I could sense from my very first zoom meeting with them. I’m extremely excited to become a part of, get involved in, and grow with them. Furthermore, I found that it was the ideal school for both my swimming and academics due to the support programs available to student athletes. I plan to pursue a pre-law track, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in law or management.

How did your success in swimming help you in the recruitment process?

My swimming times and success in international competitions were the biggest factors. That kind of name recognition made me attractive to coaches at US universities.

How did you go about preparing for the admission process?

I started my application early, spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas for my personal statement and supplemental essays. I was lucky to have gotten recruited to BU so that I only had to work on an application for one school. My counselors helped me a lot as well, in writing my essays and guiding me through the application process.

What tips can you offer students talented in sports who are aspiring to land a place in a top uni?

Start early; contact coaches through email or zoom calls to start building a relationship with them. Be honest with the coach so they get to know you. Make sure you find a University that is good for balancing both sports and academics.

Try to go on a recruiting trip, if you can, to meet with the team and show them your skills.

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