By Steve Joos
Birmingham Southern College will have its first swim team this fall and Mount Vernon’s Emily Harris will be part of it.
Harris signed a national letter of intent on Wednesday to attend the Division III school in Birmingham, Ala., and swim for the new Lady Panthers’ team this winter.
“It was an opportunity for me to get ready for med school,” Harris, who plans to major in biology and pre-medicine, said. “It’s a brand new team that’s starting next year.”
Mount Vernon swim coach Larry Zoller said that the coaches are projecting Harris in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyles, adding that the new team and Division III level are areas where she will be very competitive.
“I know that Division III swimming is close to what we do here,” Harris said, citing Mount Vernon’s stringent training regimen. “I’ll be ready because of that and I think I’ll be competitive because of that.”
Harris chose BSC over Murray State and Kentucky, both of which she considered for academics only. She is the daughter of Wes and Nancy Harris.
“It’s a brand new program,” Zoller said. “The coach there (Toby Wilcox) used to coach at (the University of Evansville) and we know him from there. It’s going to be a great opportunity for Emily to compete at the level she’ll be successful at.”
Harris hasn’t been the state meet threat other swimmers have, Zoller said, but she has been very important to our success and the Lady Wet Wildcats’ ability to compete at a high level.
She comes on well with the taper, the coach added, explaining that she will now contribute earlier in the season.
“College swimming doesn’t depend on the taper,” Zoller said. “They look for a dual meet season to be competitive and that’s something Emily will have to learn how to do.”
A great end-of the -season swimmer, Harris will have to bring that to the earlier part of the year now, Zoller said, and swim faster in the middle.
But the school is a great fit for Harris both academically and athletically, Zoller added.
“I know that she’ll do well there,” he said. “We wanted her to go to a school where her academics would come first. She wants to have a good coach and that’s the opportunity she’ll have at Birmingham Southern.”
But it will be a program that Harris will be growing with, from the ground floor.