Though you’re likely to find her in the Koury Natatorium on campus, Stephanie Peacock has been making a splash in pools all around the world. Just this past summer, Peacock competed in the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia, where she placed first in the 1500 meter Freestyle, second in the 800 meter Freestyle, and 7th in the 400 meter Freestyle. In the 1500m, she broke the World University Games record. The wins she brought home only added to her already impressive career at UNC, which includes a 22-year-old NCAA record that she shattered as just a sophomore.
HC: How did you first get into swimming?
SP: I was ten years old when I first started swimming competitively. I got into the sport because every other sport my parents put me in (gymnastics, ballet, karate), I never liked. Almost every day when I was little my mom would take me to our neighbor’s pool so I could swim. I loved swimming and even in the Florida winter I would always force my dad to come play in our outdoor pool when it was freezing. So finally my parents decided maybe swimming would work out, and I ended up loving it.
HC: What’s your favorite part about the sport?
SP: My favorite part about swimming is the competition. I love traveling to different places I haven’t been before to compete– I’ve been to Australia and China to compete in international meets, and it’s really fun because you get to meet new people who love the sport as much as you do. I get to meet people from different countries and I also get to explore the area we’re [competing] in. I really like to compete because there’s not a better feeling than seeing your hard work pay off!
HC: What has been one of your favorite moments in your swimming career so far?
SP: My favorite moment was when I won NCAA’s my sophomore year and broke Janet Evan’s 22-year-old record in the 1650 yard freestyle. It was my breakout swim, and I never thought I was capable of something that big. The race was a close one between me and a girl from Georgia (Wendy Trot), who was a senior at the time and won the mile her last three years.
HC: That’s awesome! So you’ve had a good experience swimming for UNC?
SP: I love swimming for UNC. The coaches are great and the team is awesome. Our team gets along really well and I love my teammates. I’m constantly really busy being a student-athlete because when I’m not in the pool I’m either in class or doing homework, but I love it because it makes things less boring when I always have something to do.
HC: What was it like swimming in the 2013 World University Games (and doing so well at them!)?
SP: It was amazing! I had just recovered from an illness in the spring, so to go to that meet and come back home with a gold proved to me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I couldn’t have been happier with the way things turned out this summer. Once I finished the race I looked up into the stands and saw the whole USA team going nuts, and I’ve never felt more accomplished.
HC: So do you see yourself swimming after college?
SP: Yes, I do see myself swimming after graduation. I can’t see myself being done eight years after college, so I’ve decided to keep swimming until the 2016 Olympics.
HC: What advice would you give to swimmers (or athletes in general) trying to swim in and after college?
SP: My advice would be if you have the chance to play a sport in college, then do it. There is nothing like the college experience of being on a sports team. If you love the sport you play, then you should keep playing it– since I still love swimming, I’m going to keep it up after college and keep chasing my dream of making the Olympic team.
From all of us at the HC UNC team, GO STEPH!