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It's all in the genes

Lorenzi will swim D1 this fall in Big East

BEYOND GENEVA LAKE Ellie Lorenzi doesn't just swim in the area. Back in April, she qualified for Y Nationals with her Lake Geneva Y swim team and competed at the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., along with Emily Russart and Lindsey Mikrut. To qualify, Lorenzi posted some of the best times in the country in the 50 freestyle. There were 200 participants in each event.
August 11, 2010 | 08:40 AM
Former Badger swimming standout Ellie Lorenzi, a 2010 graduate, has swam competitively since she was 7 years old.

And amazingly, those same swimmers she started with — Emily Russart and Lindsey Mikrut — have been with her both in and out of the pool ever since.

The three, plus Badger senior Maddie Clark, won the state title in the 200 medley relay back in 2008, and Lorenzi competed in the event at state all four years, and she isn't done breaking records and winning races.

Lorenzi will take her talents to St. Louis University on a Division 1 swim scholarship this fall. She will leave in a couple weeks for Missouri, but the Regional News had a chance to catch up with the 18-year-old Lake Geneva resident on her long lineage of athletes, life at Badger and goals for the future.

RN: Where else did you consider enrolling beside St. Louis?

EL: I was also considering Western Illinois, University of Illinois-Chicago, St. Cloud, Minnesota State and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

RN: How did you decide on St. Louis finally?

EL: I was looking at different schools that Western Illinois faces, and my mom came across St. Louis. She told me our neighbors went there, and it is a really good school. We contacted them, and they replied right away.

RN: St. Louis is a Catholic school. Did that affect your decision?

EL: I did go to St. Francis, and my mom teaches there, but it was more about the Division 1 scholarship.

RN: What was attractive about St. Louis?

EL: The coach, Jim Halliburton, is a really good swimmer. Now, he's a master swimmer, and he was on the U.S. Olympic team. He broke Mark Spitz's 100 butterfly world record. The guy is pretty known. I feel like he more than any other coach I met would be the best person to take me to the next level.

RN: What events will you compete in at St. Louis?

EL: I'll stick with the 50 freestyle and maybe the 200 medley relay, two events I did in high school. I'll swim wherever coach needs me. I can swim in any event. I'd like to try the 200 freestyle.

RN: Why did you get into swimming?

EL: My grandma Betty is a really good swimmer. She is known in the masters swimming world. She has broken so many world records for her age group (she's 83). I got into swimming because Betty taught me how to swim when I was really young. She encouraged me to sign up for the swim team, and I have stuck with it all these years (Betty recently competed in a U.S. National event in Atlanta and won six events).

RN: So Betty is an elite athlete. How about the rest of your family?

EL: My brother, Henry, plays tight end at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He's a sophomore. Also, my dad Charlie played Division 1 college basketball at UW-Green Bay. Both my brother and I have made it to state (Henry went with the Badger basketball team in 2008).

RN: How young were you when you began swimming competitively?

EL: I was 7 years old, and I swam with the Ducks. That year, I made a state-qualifying time. I was fourth at state in the 25 backstroke. And my brother and friends were involved. I liked it, and I was good at it.

RN: Did you give up other sports for swimming?

EL: I used to play softball, volleyball and basketball. Through freshman year at Badger, I played basketball and swam, but I blew out my ankle. So that kept me from swimming for awhile. I would have eventually gone with swimming year-round even if I wouldn't have gotten hurt.

RN: Why was swimming all year better than playing other sports?

EL: It kept me in shape for swimming, and it kept me focused on what it takes to succeed. I was able to post consistent times and didn't have to catch up to the other swimmers if I would've played a different sport.

RN: Is swim training more intense than other sports?

EL: It's really intense. We have two-and-a-half-hour practices every day at 5:30 a.m. We also do "dry land," which is working on abs and our core using medicine balls. I usually swim 6,500 yards each practice, which is three or four miles. A lot of work goes into my events.

RN: Will college be as intense?

EL: For the preseason, we will only have one practice per day. After that, we will have two-a-days. We will also lift weights in the morning. I am leaving Aug. 19, and the season will start in October.

RN: How dedicated did you have to be in high school to achieve success?

EL: During the season, there are no weekends. Swimming is the weekend. I didn't go to parties during the season for sure.

RN: Did you earn good grades in high school? And what will you major in at St. Louis?

EL: I graduated with honors. I had a decent class ranking. I want to major in nutrition or environmental studies, but I'm not sure yet. I like nutrition because my dad owns a catering company in Lake Geneva, and I have worked for him, so I have been exposed to facts about food. And I took advanced placement environmental science as a junior, and I'm really interested in it.

RN: How do you balance swimming and schoolwork?

EL: I like to set certain goals for myself, and I like to achieve them. I'll desire a certain time or grade, and it will bother me if I don't accomplish those goals. And my parents push me to succeed. And I didn't party on weekends. I'd come at 9 p.m. from a swim meet and do my homework, or I would do my homework right away on the weekend. Also, I've had like-minded friends that have kept me on track.

RN: What are your goals for your freshman season at St. Louis?

EL: I would like to shatter my best time in the 50 freestyle (24.6). I'd like to break the St. Louis school record of a 24.1. It is completely attainable. A really tough goal would be to make a Big Ten cut. I would have to drop a full second to do that. That's an eventual goal. Finally, I want to make finals at conference.

RN: What were your accomplishments at Badger for swimming?

EL: We won state my sophomore year in the 200 medley relay. But I competed in the event at state all four years. We were second in 2007 and third in 2009. Also, we were second in the 200 freestyle relay in 2009. As a senior, I qualified for state in the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. Also, I qualified in the 50 freestyle in 2008. I loved competing at state, it was so much fun. And 2008 was a huge year because my brother and I both competed at state. Winning is a lot of fun.

RN: What's your mentality when you race?

EL: Before a race, I usually get pumped up with music and I visualize what the perfect race will look like. Once I dive in, I try to give it all I have. Hopefully it turns out the way I want it to.

RN: What advice would you give children about the benefits of swimming?

EL: It's interesting because you meet people that will be your friend for the rest of your life. You go through so much during practice. I will probably keep in touch with Emily Russart, Lindsey Mikrut and Maddie Clark for the rest of my life. Stick with it. It gets hard, but push through and keep going. It's fun.

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