Photograph by Ellen Schoenmaker.

Claire Williams ’13 has been a four-year member of the women’s swim team and contributed to the team effort that winning Conference required last weekend. Additionally, Claire swam in the US Paralympic Trials in 2012, competing in the 400 free, 100 back, 100 fly and 200 fly. After last weekend, she now holds the S9 American record in the 500 free, 100 fly, 200 fly, 1650 free, and 1000 free.

What was the most exciting part of Conference this weekend?
It was maybe the best conference to go out on. It was such a team effort. When it’s winning by 12 points, that’s not one person; that’s everybody digging a little bit deeper and pushing a little bit harder and swimming a little bit stronger. I felt like we did a good job of supporting everybody. For me personally, it was lifetime bests across the board, so it was a really good meet.

When did you begin swimming and why?
Summer league before I was in middle school, so like 10 or 12. Most of my family swam—my parents in high school and two of my mom’s siblings in college—so it’s not a new sport for my family. I started swimming probably mostly because my parents did and because it was a fun thing to do. Especially summer league. We practiced for an hour and a half and then played games.

What will you miss most about swimming at Grinnell?
The team. My high school team was pretty good closeness-wise, but Grinnell has such a fantastic team environment and there’s so much respect between the men’s program and the women’s program. It’s been nice to train with the men’s team. And Erin [Hurley] and Tim [Hammond], the coaching staff, are a huge part of the program.

Do you have a favorite Grinnell swimming memory?
I would like to say this Conference, but probably coming back from abroad last spring and swimming the 1000 at Coe and going to the warm-down area and Tim coming over and finding out that I’d broken the previous American record by 9 seconds or something like that. That was the first moment when I realized that I could set records.

What records did you break this weekend and what is S9?
When they do Paralympics, they do categories of ability to differentiate because it wouldn’t be fair for me to swim against certain other swimmers. S stands for swimming and it goes from 1-14. A 1 is very low ability, while an S10 would be harder to tell they had a disability. I swim against other people who are above the knee amputees on only one side or above the elbow amputees on one side. Last year I set the American 500 free record. This year at Conference I set the American 100 fly, 200 fly, 1650 free, and broke my own 1000 record.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
I eventually will go to graduate school. Next year, I would really like to find a position working in a lab that’s using chemistry as a tool for different problems. For example, there are labs using chemistry to look at pollution in lakes. I’ve also applied for some art conservation internships.

If there’s something you could tell the underclassmen on your team, what would it be?
Keep supporting each other and embrace the lyrics to “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

—Compiled by  Jacqui Vautin, vautinja@grinnell.edu