Slusarczyk defies the odds

Senior swimmer, runner and architecture student thrives on competition

Her schedule involves swimming in the pool, running on the track and building in the studio.

Senior Emily Slusarczyk is a captain of the women’s swimming and diving team, a runner for the track and field team and an architecture student.

Emily found her interest in architecture in an AP art class she took in high school. This is a photograph of one of Emily’s drawings. (Courtesy of Rose Slusarczyk)

She began her swimming career before high school when her mother signed her up for swimming lessons at her local YMCA. At the time, the lifeguard said: “She really has some natural form… you should consider signing her up for the YMCA team.”

From there, things took off and she ended up joining her high school swim team, before continuing her swimming career at Roger Williams University.

“It started my freshman year of high school and I’ve been in the pool ever since,” Slusarcyzk said.

She was in contact with RWU Head Swim Coach Matt Emmert since the beginning of her junior year of high school, as she knew she wanted to swim in college.

“I found a talent and it kept going and I couldn’t stop it, which sparked my interest in continuing it in college,” Slusarczyk said.

Emmert said Slusarczyk began her recruiting process early.

“She basically recruited us,” Emmert said. “She was extremely active with sending us her times and keeping us updated.”

Emily is pictured competing in the sprint event at a swim meet. (Courtesy of Rose Slusaczyk)

She faced some obstacles when she began the recruiting process. She needed to improve her times in order to make the swim team.

Her parents, Rose and Carl Slusarczyk, remember the ride home after speaking to Emmert about what she would need to make the cut.

“We got into the car that day, the three of us, and we’re driving back and she said ‘I’m going to make the team’ and she got right to work,” Carl said.

Slusarczyk’s father witnessed a progression from high school to now and he describes it as nothing less than extraordinary.

“She’s a quiet leader because she is leading by her actions. She is not a yeller or screamer. She goes about her business and people are drawn to her for her personality, her attitude and smile,” Carl said.

Emily’s mother loves watching her compete.

“To see her be the cheerful, happy, smiley young lady on the side of the pool deck, cheering on other teammates, laughing with her teammates and all of a sudden, she walks over to the block and then there is this transition of the eye of the tiger and she is going to swim her heart out. I love seeing that in her,” Rose said.

Slusarczyk began swimming at RWU freshman year but by her sophomore year, she felt like something was missing.

“When swimming season was over, I felt like there was a piece of structure missing. I heard my friends talking about running for the track team and realized I missed it,” Slusarczyk said. “So I looked into figuring out if it was even possible for me to compete in both sports and to make sure they didn’t overlap.”

Emily runs in the 800-meter event at a track meet. (Courtesy of Rose Slusarczyk)

Head Track and Field Coach Sean Livingston was happy to make it possible for Slusarczyk to compete in both sports.

“We talked a lot about how the seasons would work with swimming ending and taking a break and track starting up and it all just kind of came together,” Livingston said. “I could tell from the conversation we had that she was going to be able to manage it all.”

Slusarczyk’s parents were hesitant when Emily said she wanted to join track.

“We looked at each other and said ‘okay, if your grades slip then we’ll talk about it,’ but her grades actually got better and has always been the case with Emily,” Rose said.

Slusarczyk said she loves the races and thrives on the structure of participating in all of these activities. Her time at practice and time competing helps her balance out her school work schedule.

“They keep me going,” Slusarczyk said. “The different ways of breaking it up with swimming a few laps in the pool, then running a few laps on track helped me get better. I thrive through the competition.”

Throughout the entire process, Slusarczyk has learned a lot about herself.

“If I thought to myself out loud that you will try to do a rigorous architecture program and two varsity sports, it would be overwhelming, but doing it has actually helped each other,” Slusarczyk said. “I’ve learned that you are capable of a lot more than you think you are.”