April 11, 2008 - by
South African “Extremely Proud” To Complete Her Career As A Seminole

April 11, 2008

In the spring of 2005 when Lauren Sparg came to swim for Florida State, it was her first time in the United States.  She brought with her many worries about not fitting in, becoming homesick, and wondering if she had made the right college decision.


“I was very nervous when I got here that I would not fit into the team or the culture very well,” Sparg confessed.


Four years later, she is leaving with three school records, two NCAA appearances, an individual and team ACC championship, and is an All-ACC and two time All-American athlete.


Being new to the collegiate style of swimming, Sparg learned that it would not only be about personal success, but the accomplishment of the entire team.


“In South Africa it is only about yourself,” Sparg said.  “Whereas when I came here I was excited to learn that every time I am successful, it helps our team out even more.”


The “no I in team” idea caught quickly with Sparg as she would eventually help in setting the school record and become an All-American on the 200 and 400 medley relay teams.


When asked the reason for her success she immediately spoke about her head coach Neil Harper.


“Neil is the one who got me here and I owe him a lot,” Sparg said, “He put faith in me that I would do well for the team and has helped me ever since I came here.”


“Everyone that knew her only had great things to say about her,” Harper boasted.  “Her times alone spoke loud to me and I knew she was going to be a great recruit.”


She claims that a positive attitude and making the most of every opportunity has helped her be successful and to have no regrets.  Lauren also pointed to the fact that she pushes herself to train as hard as possible through motivation and determination to succeed.


“All the hard training is worth it in the end, just for a few days of feeling extremely fast,” Sparg stated.  “All the pain and suffering is worth the victory.”


When she enrolled at FSU, Sparg set many high standards for herself as a swimmer. One of her goals was to qualify for the NCAA meet every year of her tenure as a Seminole. She came very close to this ambition barely missing the cut her freshman year. This year, as the rest of the women’s swim team season comes to a close, Sparg will continue hers as the only swimmer from the women’s squad in the NCAA championships. Although she is the only qualifier, Sparg has given FSU national attention by being the first Seminole to break 53 seconds in the 100 fly.


Sparg’s lifetime contribution to the pool and her swimming career will come to a pinnacle when she travels next month to her native South Africa to compete in the Olympic Trials. She will have to place in the top two of her country in the100 butterfly in order to qualify to participate in the Olympics. Sparg will be facing a tough task in reaching her Olympic dreams, but nevertheless she is extremely excited just to have an opportunity to be competing against the best from her country.


“The meet will be extremely fast and electric which makes me a little nervous,” Sparg said. “It is a good nervous though, and I am really excited to have a chance to go and race.”


Her hard work and focused training techniques that have been crucial to her success have not only stood out to the coaches but have been a motivation to the rest of her team.


“Lauren lets her actions speak for themselves,” Harper said. “She is always looking for ways to make herself better and has a burning desire to make the most of every day.”


Associate head coach Andy Robbins, who will be traveling with Sparg to the Olympic trials, believes that her time at FSU has taught her to be independent and has helped in defining herself as a person.


“She has a lot of confidence,” Robbins said.  “She trains hard no matter what other people say and does not let anyone else’s opinion get in the way of her goals.”


In agreement with her coach Robbins, Sparg looks back at her time at FSU as a period of defining herself as a person.


“I really have found my true identity since I have been here,” Sparg said.  “Most importantly being at FSU has prepared me for life after swimming. I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to represent the entire university and consider it an honor to uphold such a prestigious reputation as Florida State‘s.”


As she finishes her career as a Seminole she hopes to set a higher standard of excellence by encouraging her team to continually strive for improvement. Sparg urges her teammates, “Make the best of every opportunity by always giving it your best shot, that way there will be no room for regrets.”

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