Meri Millman: Making waves on Smith’s Swim Team

Photo courtesy of Smith Swimming and Diving Team | Meri Millman ’16 is the 2015-2016 captain of the Smith Swim Team.

Photo courtesy of Smith Swimming and Diving Team | Meri Millman ’16 is the 2015-2016 captain of the Smith Swim Team.


Sophie Chase ’19
Contributing Writer

Meri Millman ’16, captain of the swim team, a neuroscience major, Spanish minor and pre-dental student, just completed her final season on the Smith College Swim Team.

Millman began swimming at three years old and became a year-round swimmer in high school. At Smith, Millman is primarily a freestyle sprinter, though she has tested the waters (literally) with backstroke and breastroke events.

Millman loves the team aspect of the sport, as well as the structure and organization swimming has brought into her life. “I wouldn’t be who I am without the sport,” Millman said. “When people ask me about myself, the first thing I say is that I’m a swimmer.”

Despite suffering from an injury to her shoulder before coming to Smith, Millman decided she still wanted to compete at the collegiate level.

She said, “I had been swimming for the same amount of years I had been going to school; I didn’t know how to be a student without also being an athlete.” Attracted to Smith’s outstanding neuroscience program and inspired by swim team coach Kim Bierwert’s belief in her swimming abilities, Millman decided to swim for Smith.

Eventually, her injury caught up to her in the pool and Millman had to go into shoulder surgery on New Year’s Eve 2013. Undeterred by her surgery, Millman returned to the pool with the help of her coach to finish her senior year competitively and fulfill the goals she had set for herself as a collegiate swimmer.

While on the Smith Swimming and Diving team, Millman loved how the team increasingly gained recognition and support throughout her four years. She could feel the great support from fans, the trainers, the coaches and even the athletic director.

“You can clearly see that every person in the department wants to help the athletes stay healthy while also working with each of us to improve and continue to reach our goals,” she said.

Over her years competing, swimming has taught Millman some very valuable life lessons, like how to stand up for herself and be confident in her own voice. She’s learned that no matter what happens, she will always have people supporting her and helping her reach her goals and successes in and out of the water.

The senior captain’s favorite memory of the swim team came from this past year at the NEWMAC championship meet. At the end of the competition, the exhausted Smith College swim team took their place on the deck at MIT. When the speaker system started playing “Gangnam Style,” the seniors of the team began, one-by-one, getting up and dancing on the deck. It only took one more song — “Sorry” by Justin Bieber to be precise — for the whole team to be up and dancing with their seniors. She loved how her team proved they were not just there to compete, but also have the best time while doing it. Millman loved ending her last season competing at MIT as she had begun her first season for Smith there as well.

The soon-to-be graduate said her favorite motivational quote was said by her swim coach here at Smith. Bierwert told Millman, “There’s always more toothpaste left in the tube.”

But if she could give any piece of advice for younger, aspiring female athletes, Millman would tell them, “Go for it. It will be the best and most exhausting experience of your life so far, but it’s worth it.”

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